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First- Protect The Children

October 17, 2011

What I learned at last month’s Congressional Black Caucus’s Braintrusts and Issue Forums:

Everyone deserves a quality education, but a quality early childhood education is not available to all children.  Clearly the odds are not in favor for poor children.  Budgets are being cut despite  the decades of research affirming without a doubt that early childhood educational programs like Head-start can give at-risk children the chance the succeed.

Other Daunting Facts:

Ten thousand black and brown children are imprisoned every day.  “The annual cost of detention can average around $50,000 per minor while most community-based programs cost less than one-fourth that amount.”  “Research shows that incarcerating youth does not make us safer—in fact, it undermines public safety. Detention often propels a youth in a direction that leads to behaviors responsible for the recidivism rates of 50% to 80% for incarcerated youth. ”

The Rebecca Project states: “There are now between 100,000 and 300,000 adolescents in the American sex trade market, most between 12 and 14.” We continue to punish those who have already been punished by society.

A flyer distributed by the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth: Racial Inequality in Youth Sentencing‘ and their website offered these facts:

  1. “In schools, youth of color are more likely to be expelled or suspended, but there is no evidence that they misbehave more than their white counterparts.”
  2. “They are, however, punished more severely, often for behaviors that are less serious.”
  3.  “45% of all incarcerated youth are African American even though they only make up 17% of the population.”
  4. “The United States is the only country in the world where a person under the age of 18 can be sentenced to a life without parole. “
  5.  “Youth crime rates have dropped steadily since the 1990s, yet rates of incarcerating youth have increased.
  6. “According to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the number of youth held in pre-trial detention has increased 72% since the early 1990s.”
  7. “African American youth are 10 times more likely than their white peers to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  This is just one example of disparities in sentencing: a 2001 Journal of Law and Economics empirical study of sentencing in federal courts found that, on average, African Americans of all ages are given sentences twice as long as whites.”

Congressman Scott representing Virginia’s 3rd District has introduced the Youth Promise Act as a solution.  I’ll discuss his and other successful projects you can support in an upcoming post.

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