Much of this article came from this in depth article at Huffington Post
One out of 28 American children has a parent in jail or prison – 60 percent of inmates are people of color (only 30% of America’s population are people of color). There are twelve time more drug offenders in state prisons than there were in 1980.
25% of American youth are charged in adult courts & many ten or twelve years old children are tried as adults. About ten thousand juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails every day. 2/3 of those youth suffer from mental health issues and half that number have multiple and serious diagnosis.
Seven of ten of these youth have seen someone killed or severely injured and three of ten have attempted suicide. My first visit to a CASA guardian ad-Litem four year old was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital in Minneapolis. The thoughts of killing yourself start young in at risk youth. Jeff Weise had been talking and writing about it before he killed his grandfather and fourteen others before killing himself.
And we wonder where the violence on our streets and in our schools comes from.
Black men born in 2001 have a 33% chance of incarceration and black youth are five times more likely to be arrested than white youth.
2/3 of America’s prisoners recycle within 3 years of being released Our recidivism rates are soon to exceed 70%.
Nearly 40% of America’s incarcerated youth are sentenced to privatized facilities. Where a growing number of them are being reported for under training and under-staffing, a culture of rape and violence, arbitrary quotas, inadequate health care, and their own criminal acts (2 Pennsylvania judges sentenced to 40 years for incarcerating innocent youth to collect the ten percent commission on each child sent “upriver”, and the “cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts” brought about the shut down of GEO Groups Mississippi operation (words in quotation marks were written by Governor Phil Bryant of Miississippi).
60,000 detainees labored in these facilities last year, many of them for candy bars or one dollar a day.
One of my guardian ad-Litem boys walked 35 miles when he was tossed out into a ten degree Minnesota night when the staff at his privatized facility used freezing in the cold as discipline (he was wearing only a t shirt).
Private prison contracts almost always mandate that 80 to 100 percent of prison beds be kept full with fines for unused beds. This is the opposite of any sane persons approach to sound public policy.
Prisons are a five billion dollar business with powerful lobbying firms working to incarcerate more people for longer sentences. This has disrupted not just America’s at risk youth.
America incarcerates more young people than any other industrialized nation – overall, we have 25% of the world’s prison population, and only 5% of the world’s population.
One third of the world’s entire imprisoned female population is in America’s justice system, mostly for non violent crimes. Since we passed the King Pin and Mandatory Minimums laws, it is often the women serving the longest sentences. King pins have high priced lawyers and get time off of their sentence for ratting on others. Most of these women have committed the crime of being in love with or afraid of the man they live with. It is a rare event that the women ever received money or safety because her significant other treated them well. Most of these women lose their children and many of them were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time (and she gets twenty years). Sexual assault and PTSD are the almost the rule for incarcerated in America’s prisons. GOP governors have been fighting against the “Rape Elimination Act” passed ten years ago.
There are almost seven million Americans in the U.S. adult correctional system with twice that number of arrests made in 2012. The conditions within the prison system are in many states just awful. The people that run Riker’s Island youth prison in New York might be the people more deserving of a prison sentence (nearly twenty inmates slashed last month).
Sample 4 minute video of Kids At Risk Action talk on child protection in America (invite KARA to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )
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