Why Do Black Children Become Prison Inmates

black students

At a time when many white students are preparing for their life by going to college, many black youth are preparing each other by learning how to evade the police, because they know it’s just a matter of time before they become a target. This is not a joke. Black kids KNOW  it’s just a matter of time before they will be harassed by cops for absolutely no reason. When they are old enough to drive many get pulled over an average of once a week. There is no violation. They are just black and cops often do whatever they can to find a reason to arrest them, smash their windows, use their tazers even in front of their children, terrifying them. They don’t care what they do in front of children.  Everyone has seen the videos. I have two half black grandsons. If I didn’t, I could like all white people and say, they probably did something to deserve it. It really affects my life because I’m white and cops smile at me.  But they won’t be smiling at my grandsons, so I’m in this fight for the long haul.  One in three black men go to prison at some point in their lives. With 2 grandsons what are the odds of at least one of them will go to prison? A black man doesn’t need to be guilty. We hear often of inmates being set free because they were finally proven not quilty. Over 70% of these men are black.

It starts in childhood. Kids play act what they see. A game of tag becomes instead, pretending to be a cop and a criminal and learn how to arrest each other and pretend to cuff their playmates and do cavity searches.  This is real life to black children.

What makes it even harder for black youth is the way schools punishment them, starting with the attitude of many teachers.  Racism in schools is rampant. Many teachers teach racism by their actions.Why is it that teachers find it so easy to expel a black child, when a white child mihg de only get detention for doing the exact same thing? An after school fight for two white boys more than likely will end with their parents being called. If you are black, the police will be called and they get their first taste of jail and end up with fines.  If they can’t pay that fine they are arrested again. Minority families with lower incomes are affected the most. When a child is removed from school it begins a spiral down that becomes an inability to finish a high school education. Forget college.

inmate education, prison classroom,

This is what happened to Jamie’s life, and there was no one who could help him or his mother change the outcome. By the time he was in his mid teens with his high school years just beginning, the court system was doing it’s damnedest to end his possibilities.  He is 33 and he still isn’t allowed to take the test to get his GED.  He’s a smart man. He would love to have an education. With more time to go and still having no education, what are his chances?

It takes more than wishful thinking.  Because there is no one else willing to do the legwork, I have research to find out what his options are.  There is a school for inmates in Dallas called the Windham School.  http://www.windhamschooldistrict.org/

EDUCATING INMATES 

inmate education, recidivism ratefor educated parolees
photo source: imgarcade.com

Educating inmates lowers the recidivism rate back to prison.  Getting a GED, learn a trade or take college classes.  I don’t know yet what it will take to get Jamie involved or when it can begin, but it is worth finding out. I can only think that something like this would help him with parole. This isn’t automatically offered to inmates.  An inmate need someone on the outside who takes the time to find out about it. Overall, there needs to be more stress on inmate education if you want to slow down the revolving door for those who want to get off the ride.

This past year the subjects of prisons and decreasing the population has been a hot topic. Are the politicians serious? Or is it all talk? In this election year I have heard more hate talk and about people that shouldn’t be allowed to live here. The KKK is endorsing Donald Trump. If by chance he wins, what will they expect back? A large amount of people think we should have never freed the slaves. Are these the people who become cops who kill and teachers who expel black kids? Who taught these adults when they were kids that hating another race was okay? Who taught the adults today they are superior? Because somebody did.  Are these people who think they are better, because they are white ever going to want these black people back into a society that doesn’t want them there in the first place?

This presidential election year has shck n me how hateful, cruel and judgemental the people of America can be and it scares me. Politicians have to loudly proclaim the are Christians but their actions  at makes a country great, since making America great again seems to be such an issue, is the people in it. When I see the incitement of hate, and the cheering that goes with, when I see a candidate say he wants to punch a man at his really and people cheer it’s like watching America vomit all over itself.

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http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/april/discipline-black-students-041515.html

By

Racial differences in school discipline are widely known, and black students across the United States are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to Stanford researchers.

Yet the psychological processes that contribute to those differences have not been clear – until now.

“The fact that black children are disproportionately disciplined in school is beyond dispute,” said Stanford psychology Professor Jennifer Eberhardt in an interview. “What is less clear is why.”

In the study, “Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students,” which was recently published in the journal Psychological Science, Eberhardt and Stanford psychology graduate student Jason Okonofua reported on two experimental studies that showed that teachers are likely to interpret students’ misbehavior differently depending on the student’s race.

In the studies, real-world primary and secondary school teachers were presented with school records describing two instances of misbehavior by a student. In one study, after reading about each infraction, the teachers were asked about their perception of its severity, about how irritated they would feel by the student’s misbehavior, about how severely the student should be punished, and about whether they viewed the student as a troublemaker.

A second study followed the same protocol and asked teachers whether they thought the misbehavior was part of a pattern and whether they could imagine themselves suspending the student in the future.

The researchers randomly assigned names to the files, suggesting in some cases that the student was black (with a name such as DeShawn or Darnell) and in other cases that the student was white (with a name such as Greg or Jake).

Across both studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers’ responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student.

In fact, the stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, Eberhardt and Okonofua said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.

“We see that stereotypes not only can be used to allow people to interpret a specific behavior in isolation, but also stereotypes can heighten our sensitivity to behavioral patterns across time. This pattern sensitivity is especially relevant in the schooling context,” Eberhardt said.

These results have implications beyond the school setting as well.

As Okonofua said, “Most social relationships entail repeated encounters. Interactions between police officers and civilians, between employers and employees, between prison guards and prisoners all may be subject to the sort of stereotype escalation effect we have identified in our research.”

Both Okonofua and Eberhardt suggested that useful interventions with teachers would help them to view student behavior as malleable rather than as a reflection of a fixed disposition, such as that of troublemaker.

While racial disparities can be lessened by psychological interventions that help improve black students’ behaviors in class, it is also important to understand how that behavior is interpreted by teachers and school authorities, Okonofua said.

Jason A. Okonofua, psychology: (650) 736-9861, okonofua@stanford.edu

Jennifer L. Eberhardt, psychology: (650) 703-2224, jleberhardt@stanford.edu

Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, cbparker@stanford.edu

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Kids or Criminals? Growing up and getting out – a very important entry!

Young offender, kids in prison, juvenile incarcerationThe saddest casualties of this rush to throw as many people in prison as possible, are the children. Yes, children often do serious crimes. Many of these kids were thrown away by abusive, neglectful, or addicted parents. Many were raised by the state and the only mentoring they could get was from other, often young, people in their same shoes. They were ” at risk kids” for a long and no one paid attention. Kids with no wisdom, no real understanding of what they were doing to their lives. So so sad. It rips my heart out.

When they were delinquent at school no one cared. When they were taken to juvenile court no one cared. Many were moved from one abusive foster parent to another. When they started doing petty crimes no one cared. When they ended back in juvenile court, the courts were too swamped and probation officers never checked on them to see if they were in school. They were sent to home probation. No one cared.

Only their friends cared. Their barrio, their homies protected each other. They survived. No one taught them right from wrong and no one punished them. The courts often did nothing.  There was no time or resources to get these kids the help they needed. There are too many of them. The crime rate by children soared. Then one day the child finally did something really bad and they noticed. Now the court said,

You are a horrible child, you’ve been in trouble for years. We told you to stay in school and you didn’t. You can’t be helped. We’re going to send you over to adult court and they can deal with you.

22 States certify children as young as 7 to be tried in adult court. By now their lives are lost. They often become habitual offendersrs. They know no other life. They have no idea what a life is like being loved and cared for and raised to be the best they can be. 70% of all foster children end up in prison and female foster children are 600x more likely to have a baby they struggle to raise.

Although this is a different issue – pro lifers, abortion abolitionists have no concern for a baby after it is born. They only want it born. Life is sacred they say. But when these babies are discarded because they can’t be cared for their life is not so sacred anymore. Now they want them thrown in the trash.  We did this. Many of these children didn’t have to turn out this way. These babies often end up as one of these children and it is a goddamn crying shame.

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Juvenile Detention – A Cry For Help

Armando Macias artwork

Unless you have a child – or know a child who is “at-risk” you don’t give it much thought. We read a lot about gangs and the violence that comes from it be we don’t understand why it happens or about the kids that get caught up in in it. The violence has increased so much over the years and the court system that is supposed to take care of it – can’t – it so the easiest thing to do is to either look the other way, or lock them up and get them off the street. What they don’t do is get them the help they need at a time where some of them can be saved. Juvenile courts are too chaotic. The don’t have the manpower or the resources adult courts have. Many crimes can’t be proven. Witnesses don’t show up. The reschedule court dates so often the people involved give up and don’t show up. When that happens the case is dismissed. Finally the kids are old enough to push over to adult court and have them tried there. So many of these kids are crying out for help and no one gives a crap. Case loads are so heavy they don’t have time.

If you live in a city that has a lot of gang activity, the kids who don’t have parents who end up in foster care also end up getting sucked into the life of a gang because at least now they have people in their life who care about them. Many of these people came from the same broken homes. They know how that feels. This cycle keeps churning out people who have to survive somehow. They don’t have educations. They can’t get good jobs. So, for them, crime pays. They start making regular visits to juvenile court, but there is no help. If they had been helped their life could have been different. ‘

States have gone back and forth over when it is okay to try kids as adults, especially when they do adult type crimes. Finally they have released the harm it causes to keep them in solitary confinement. Why anyone thinks it isn’t harmful to adults is beyond me. Maybe because by that time most of them have lives that are already ruined. To ruin someone so young with isolation gives that minor no chance. It’s such a shame that it had to take Kalief Browder committing suicide when he got out, to wake “them” up from the outcry from the public. America won’t even admit we keep keep adults in solitary for the decades we do. We don’t torture inmates they say.

It is easy to see that the way we deal minors only makes certain that when they get out, they will be full fledged criminals because they have no concept of how to live. They have more than likely never experienced anything close to having a normal life. I say “more than likely” because there has been a greater trend toward children coming from “good” homes and still deciding that the life of a “gangsta” has more appeal and excitement. But just like the sentences given out to older criminals, those children are looked at as having more promise and worth rehabilitating and get more breaks within the system. What helps is they have family support who show up at court hearings and typically hire real attorneys who have gone over their cases and planned a strategy so they don’t end up in prison at 16. Most juvenile offenders don’t get to see their attorney until the are sitting at a desk in front of the judge who will decide whether they stay in the juvenile system or proceed to prison.

If they go to prison they are subject to the same system as adults, which means, no rehabilitation and being subjected to adult predators. They come out with a felony record they will never escape from. Education becomes extremely hard to get and their spiral down happens quickly. The law isn’t set up to benefit minors. Juvenile courts are not allowed to consider why the child is there. What is his background? They can only look at the offense. But where do these kids come from? Why did it get to the point wher3e it became hopeless? Why wasn’t the child helped when there was plenty of time to do it, but feet were dragged and nothing was done?

These kids became a lost society, kept out of view. They eventually became found a home in prison with the same people they were with on the outside; friends back with friends. They never had anyone who cared so they gravitated to the only people who loved them, people like themselves. Of course there are exceptions. There are kids that just seem determined ruin any chance they had. They go against what their parents tried to provide for them who don’t understand what they did wrong or couldn’t see in time to fix. Maybe there was nothing that could be done. But I want to talk about those who had no choice. Those who were born into a life that pushed them into a life of crime because it was all they knew.

I write to several inmates about their life and how they feel about where they are. I want to tell you about one who recently confided in me:

“I want to explain the way culture and the environment I lived in all my life formed my outlook. Blacks are not the only ones being racially targeted.  Growing up I remember if white people in cop cars saw you they were going to stop you.  I remember that no matter what, you would be searched.  Driving, they’d pull you over.   It didn’t matter if there was a reason to pull you over. If you ran and they caught you they’d beat you, so you ran faster and you didn’t get caught. Staying there to find out meant you would probably go to jail. Innocence is not a factor.  Never was, and it still isn’t.

I’m from the ghetto.  There were foothills nearby.  At times we’d see the KKK burning crosses in front of black people’s houses.  That stopped in the 80’s.  In 1992 there were the LA riots because Rodney King was beat up by cops.  Only when I received my first prison sentence and reached my 20’s did I learn about the laws.  They weren’t even supposed to be allowed to stop and search us for no reason, but the law never seems to apply to the police.

In prison, on paper, they say there are rehabilitation programs.  They say that, but in reality there aren’t any.  I wanted to go to school.  I wanted to learn a better of living but I soon learned that it didn’t mean me.  There was no rehabilitation for people like me.

There is a mentality you learn growing up and living like that. The chances of people escaping that life is small.  Most don’t.  I’m one of the ones who didn’t escape.  all those programs for “at-risk” kids never existed back then. I don’t know many kids benefit from them today.  Everyone went to jail.  Punks went to jail.  I accepted that mentality.  It was all I knew. It didn’t scare me.  In fact, jail was a vacation from an abusive home.  Violence was normal to me, so gangbanging was no biggy.

When you see very few people you know not go to jail and many of them die, it become normal.  When I got out of jail the first time all my good intentions faded in a second.  I got out wanting to do good, but when you encounter a hugh problem, who you really are comes out. Your intentions disappear.  It’s engraved in you.

So you ask, why did I go back to prison?  Why is it that if I knew the consequences, why am I here?  Because that is how it was. I had no place else to go.  It is the only experience I knew.”

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This man was raised in a violent home where he got beat every day.  There was violence all around him.  He didn’t have parents who made sure he had good food every day and went to school.  There was no Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.  There were no family Thanksgiving dinners and birthday parties.  The kids I grew up with all had these things.  We had families that cared.  I’m sure violence existed but it never entered in my life.  If you had his life what would you do?  You would bond with other kids who had a life who could relate to yours.  They were your family.  You never really knew there was any other kind of life you could experience.  There was no choice.  You would end up in prison.

There many kids who don’t have families.  Maybe the state took them away because of drugs and neglect.  Many of the parents died and there was no place for the kids to go.  We have all heard horror stories.  The juvenile system is overloaded with kids who have no place to go.  They get shifted between multiple foster home which are also rife with drug abuse and violence. There aren’t enough case workers who can take the time to care even if they wanted to.  Nothing is done in a timely manner.  Even when there is someone who is willing to take these kids in, the paperwork is insurmountable.  The kids get lost in the system.  They find themselves in and out of court until eventually they get old enough to prosecute.  One more person locked up. Another one to take his place.

80% of those incarcerated went through the foster care system.  Those are scary numbers.  Doesn’t that tell you that if there were a better way of dealing with these throw away kids the prison population would go down?  Isn’t it time something better should be done? Haven’t we had enough generations of throwaway kids?

Here is an excellent article about what happens to kids we lock up. Why Do We Still Put Kids In Shackles When They Go To Trial

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Watch – What Five Years in Solitary Can Do To a Man

I watched this several times trying to imagine myself in this same situation. It’s easy to empathize with this man and say, “What a horrible thing it was to have to go through this.” Now watch it and pretend it is you. Tell me – How would you feel, especially if you were locked up like this year after year with no hope in sight. You’re a forgotten piece, of humanity except to a couple people if you’re lucky. Try to imagine having to go back out into society after this. Now imagine you’ve been in there for decades. You’ve grown old. Your mental acuity is gone. Your health is shot. The prison no longer wants to “care” for you so they dump you out onto the streets with 50 bucks, and 30 days worth of meds, and you are supposed to pick the pieces of a life that no longer exists and much of it is nothing at all like the world you once knew. Think about this.

It has been determined that it only takes 15 days for your brain to start deteriorating from the isolation. Paranoia sets in. If you already have problems mentally in any form it is going to deteriorate fast. Depression sets in. Jamie was in solitary confinement for a total of about 4 years. We wrote letters constantly. I was the voice that told him to hang on and made sure he knew his life had value.

He’s out of solitary now, which is also called ad seg or G5. When they classify you as G5 it takes a lot of hard work to not let it get to you and keep your sanity and not let trouble find you. He is now in G2 and I am waiting patiently for my very first phone call.

I recently saw another YouTube video about the children locked up. 22 states in the US allow children as young as 7 to be tried in adult court and segregated in adult prisons, ‘for their their protection’
https://mynameisjamie.net/young-kids-hard-time/

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They took away any progress he made. He will have to work again to get any privileges back. He had applied to take his GED and now that hope is most likely gone. Somehow, to me, it seems deliberate. When he comes up for parole again in Oct, 2016, and he is unable to show he’s been able to better himself it gives reason to not grant it. But if is unable to learn anything what are his chances of survival? This is why I’m writing the book “Inside the Forbidden Outside”.

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Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years.  It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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