Why do you think there are so many African-American men in prison?

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Initial post: Aug 23, 2007 6:41:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 23, 2007 6:46:13 PM PDT
Justin says:
Read Demico Boothe's new book "WHY ARE SO MANY BLACK MEN IN PRISON?" This book is the best written on the subject. Very fair, very informative. Has anyone else read this book?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2007 11:36:02 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2007 10:25:02 AM PST
Steve, that's a nice cut-and-dry answer that im sure your very proud of yourself for. But you might want to consider the history of slavery and widespread racism which is firmly ingrained in American culture, although nowadays the mainstream finds this subject "too hard" to discuss openly. There are men of all races in prison for crimes they didn't commit, but there is a disproportionate amount of black men due to the reasons stated above, among many others. Not everything is as simple as your statement... except your remidial logic.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2008 6:27:30 PM PST
Shuterbug says:
Because once you have a criminal record it is impossible to redeem yourself even after paying your debt to society & therefore crime or 7-11 is your only option out of the joint ..

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2008 5:43:06 AM PST
And this is true no matter what color your skin is. Actually it is not impossible though. I have had to work long and hard at some menial jobs to finally get to a place that affords me a chance to actually make a living. I would encourage anyone in this situation to not give up.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2008 5:45:01 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2008 9:30:04 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2008 2:34:00 PM PST
Of course me being a Black female I hate that a lot of our Black men are in prison...period. I can sit here and try and justify why they are in there in the first place but the bottom line is that Black men are going to do what they do to survive. Put a man in a certain environment with limited financial resources and a lot of responsibility (children, financial obligations,etc), he is going to commit crimes. Then add to the fact that the system has harsher sentencing (and this is a fact), then you are going to have a lot of Black Men in prison. I mean if you look at the fact that only in the 1970's just a little over 30 something years ago, 75% of the prison population was white and now it is totally flipped. You have to ask yourself is that coincidental. For me it's not. And the fact that white people are benefiting from what is called privitization of some of these prison, then you really have to question what is the overall picture here...what is really going on?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 1:26:46 AM PST
L. Barnes says:
Latonya, you shouldn't waste your energy on S. Dekker. You can't beat ignorance.

Why are so many African American in prison? One reason, our Judicial System. It is tilted to forgive the haves and punish the have not's whether guilty or not. Unfortunately, most of the have not's are minorities unable to afford decent representation. Case in point, the black man that was just released from prison after 20 something years due to DNA evidence that proved he was innocent, as he proclaimed all along. Obviously his 1st lawyer wasn't Johnny Cochran. It makes you wonder how many innocent people have been executed. Then we have a prison system that is suppose to rehabilitate but in actuality its sole purpose is to act as guard dog so now we have those that are released only to return back to the system.

With that said, I believe not taking ownership and responsibility for the ills of our community is the other reason we represent the highest number of those incarcerated. Our numbers are increasing in the prison system, the welfare system and in the HIV community. Children having children, absent fathers, abusive households, gangs replacing families, negative role models and the desire to acquire the things that are flashy and "in style" rather then those of sustenance are all contributing factors to our issues. Yes, I believe the dehumanization of slavery had its place in the ills of our community and that we still live in a society where all things are not created equal, but, our brothers and sisters before us faced those same challenges and look at how far we've come. They fought, marched and literally gave their lives so that our past would not define our future. It's time for us to stop giving those that embrace our failures and those that spew ignorance control of our destiny. It's our duty to set out to change our own lives and our own community, one person at a time if necessary. Only then will we see change.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 1:29:47 AM PST
JockStar! says:
Because the 14th amendment does'nt protect you in jail...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 4:38:38 AM PST
Tan Aik Seng says:
I don't think Steve Dekker is a racist. He mentioned "culture" and "entitlement"; both of which are the results of wrong thinking and mindset. He said this group of people "embrace" a certain "culture." Similarly, the terrorists as a group also embrace a certain culture and entitlement; using voilence and murder to justify their cause (also a form of entitlement).

Let's also look beyond America. Africa, which is predominantly black, has been plaque with voilence for many years. Many were given democracy and independence much earlier than countries in Asia. When I mention this fact, am I to be termed as a racist? I am also colored; both blacks and whites call us "yellow."

In Asia, we have many kind of people who blame yellow people like me for their own predicament. Many of us "yellows" were killed because we (minority in Indonesia and Malaysia) were supposedly denying the majority (the Malays) of their entitlement and God given rights.

Americans have become apologetic to crimes that were committed to hurt them. If we are against the Saudis for purnishing the victims (mainly women); aren't you Americans punishing the very people who brought riches and prosperity to America? Aren't the blacks continue to blame the whites who delivered them from slavery?

If you think the white Americans are unfair to the blacks; why don't you come take my place in Malaysia or Indonesia? We continue to excel despite been a minority. We continue to raise ourselves up despite been prosecuted, murdered, openly been discriminated, and so on. What you blacks in America are experiencing is nothing compared to what we have to go through. Mind you... it was your forefathers who suffered through the slavery. Not you... You were all delivered, not by your own struggle, but by the struggle of your forefathers... and the willingness of the whites American to have a change of heart and mindset!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 7:48:32 AM PST
L. Barnes says:
Tan Aik Seng,

One man's burden is another man's grief. Unless you've walk in my shoes, you know not my journey. Quotes I feel befit this conversation.
Pain and suffering is relative. The person that grows up with a silver spoon in their mouth who now is forced to work for a living may consider this a devasting blow to their life. So what may seem insignificant to you can be life altering to someone else. I'm sure there are people who see and judge the world just as you do and feel your peoples plight is nothing compared to what their people have gone through.
If you try practicing tolerance instead of judgement you may discover understanding.
By the way there are black people excelling everyday. Open your eyes.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 12:09:01 PM PST
Britt says:
It is true that our judicial system targets and profiles black men. It is also true that there are a large number of black men and women who are of a lower socio economic status. Therefore, one can assume that our society has been formatted so it is easier for blacks to go to prison. The economic status alone keeps blacks from being able to receive exceptional representation and reducing their risks of receiving smaller penalties such as house arrest and probation.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2008 1:49:14 PM PST
Dear Steve,
You do what has been role modeled in your life. If your father went to jail you are more likely than not going to jail. Women can't raise their familes on their own. They need good male influences in their life to show them that things can be different. They have no skills and need money. I am not condoning bad behavior but you get what you got. Cheryl

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 4:46:11 PM PST
Robert Boyle says:
Janks Morton, in his interesting and probative film "What Black Men Think", points out that there are -- by the least favorable reckoning -- twice as many black men in college as in prison. This is the case in spite of culture, crime, politics, racism and all of the other theories for why some (too many) black men end up in jail, or fail in other aspects of life.

Does this mean that everything is okay? That nothing needs to be changed, corrected or improved (by individuals and governments)? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that in spite of dire statistics -- even when they are not misleading or simply false -- black men are not doomed. They face unfairness and uneven odds, but they are not beyond help or self-achievement, nor should they themselves -- or anyone else -- give up on "the class" of black men because some of them do fail. A positive attitude towards black men and their futures on more people's parts will (and does) make a difference. Such an attitude is not *sufficient*, but it *is* necessary.

As a gen-ed TA at a university (in LA), my students range widely in their ethnicities (as well as majors and aptitudes). I see them (whether you think this is good or bad) as individuals with individual assets and liabiities. My policy is to try to get each of them to advance (in this particular phase of their lives -- i am not omnipotent) along whatever point on the track they find themselves at. Their lives are up to them.

I do not "whitewash" (excuse the expression) much less deny the flaws, the obstacles, the unfairness, inequities and injustices the world has to offer; I do tell all of my students that they do NOT have to accept this fact as a judgment (doom = "final judgement") upon themselves.

I TA philosophy, which is horrendously difficult for most students (even 'A' students). Everyone is at a disadvantage, and as the course is a required gen-ed class, there is no "opt-out" choice" (other than to drop out of college or shoot yourself). It is quite unfair; so much is out of the student's hands, and all they can do is to struggle through as best they can, and maintain whatever integrity and personal dignity they can muster. I help as many as I can "get over the fence", and more importantly I try to help them understand that to allow yourself to be defined by your (or worse, someone else's -- perhaps society's) ailures is a kind of voluntary self-destruction. I am not saying this to shift blame away from shoddy and or self-rightious intitutions, or worse, *onto* black men (or other students having this or that unfair and undeserved disadvantage) but to point out -- as I do all the time to my students -- that you may struggle and fail, and the entire enterprise may be seem pointless, confusing and even unfair -- but you are never -- *ever* -- obliged to quit.


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2008 10:19:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 28, 2008 10:23:49 AM PST
Thomasina says:
Is it the crime of slavery, driving while black or poverty Mr. Dekker?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2008 11:12:44 AM PST
Erlenstar says:
Very well written and I agree 100%. For some reason it seems that the black community is not trying to better their situation, but instead keep making excuses as to why they feel they are discriminated against. Rap music is a classic example of how to project a negative light on a race of people. The music is all about hatred, killing, sex, etc. Granted we have other music and songs with this but not even close to the extent of rap music. Then you have the continued corruption in Africa where your own people treat you worse then whites ever did! If the black community wants respect and to better their people then they need to start with themselves and stop relying on other people to better their situation. My ancestors were Indian so I can sit here and claim 'entitlement' and hate white people because they took my ancestors land but instead I appreciate history, learn from it and try to better myself and contribute to the society we live in. What is that saying? You make life what you want it to be? We can either make excuses for our upbringing and blame things on our parents and other races of people or we can do something about it on our own and make this world a better place to live and try to eradicate the racism and poverty that run so rampant because of close-minded views that people have about subjects they know nothing about.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2008 5:55:36 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2008 9:45:24 AM PST
L. Barnes,

You are truly a gifted and insiteful writer. I was duly impressed with your ability to communicate your ideas and to advise men and women of all colors to own up and to accept responsibility. You got a bit less effective and off-track when you started to get defensive, but then, I, too, as a White Hispanic man, took a bit of offense to Mr. Dekker's comments.

I think that Mr. Dekker could have made his point heard without painting himself as a bit judgemental had he expanded a bit on his comments. I could go on and on about why he might feel that he is right and about why he could have been a bit less general in his statements, but we have all heard it before.

The facts hurt; the welfare system is broken and it is being abused. We are rewarding young women of all color who have multiple children from multiple fathers by continuing to pay for their births and to up their entitlements in the way of food and housing subsidies. I am all for feeding children, it is not their fault that they are here. The system that continues to make it okay is the problem.

I originally came on here to review Senator Obama's book since he has a pretty good chance of becoming our President. I did not vote for Bill Clinton (I voted for Ross Perot), but once he was in office, I supported President Clinton for the entire 8 years that he served in office, even after I voted for Bob Dole. Senator Obama's book scares me because it appears to embrace a socialistic system where hard work and achievement are not rewarded (unless you count taxing those who work hard), it rewards those who don't put forth the effort and are content to coast along on the government nipple.

If we don't create incentives for people to start new business, to want to get good grades, to want to make their mark on the world, then we will continue to see the illegal invasion from the south, the continued outsourcing of our jobs to China and to India, and we will one day have a society where you are penalized for working hard and when you go out and earn a good living and your wages are taxed and given to those who want to sit around while the rest of us go to work (all colors of people, there are plenty of white people on welfare and disability), then you breed a generation of individuals who give up on trying to succeed because they will do just as well by not going to work, getting an education, waiting until they can support children before they have them, etc.

When I fight rush hour traffic in the morning and I pass by able-bodied men sitting on their porches, it concerns me. When I fight to give my son nice clothes, shelter, and food in his stomach and I see someone in front of me in line buying T-bone steaks and cookies with food stamps while I buy ground beef and SPAM, that concerns me.

This is our great country folks, white boys, homeboys, Hispanics - WE CAN AND SHOULD GET ALONG! There is no room for racism in our great nation, united we stand, divided we fall!!! I am living proof that all races can get along - you cannot judge a man or woman until you walk in their shoes.

L. Barnes, I respect and admire you and I don't even know you; isn't that a start?

Thank you -

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008 6:11:56 PM PST
Add up the total influence of the "gansta rap" culture, the "entitlement mentality", the lack of personal responsibility, the black homes with no father figure, the sloppy pants falling down life style and no respect for authority and it is a recipe for disaster. Add in the disregard for conservative values and throw in the Jackson & Sharpton playbook and these black youths don't have a chance. On the other hand hold up some black role models like JC Watts, Tiger Woods, James "Bubba" Stewart, Clarance Thomas, Secretary of State Rice and Obama just to name a few and we might just save a few of our black kids from a life in jail.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008 7:29:29 PM PST
David J. Stewart - YOU, my friend, should run for office on that platform. I would vote for you in a heart beat. Thank you for those words of wisdom.


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2008 12:17:20 PM PST
A. Nicholas says:
Think about your friends, colleagues, family, neighbors. Can you name one person who has lived his/her life w/o prejudice? Likely, no. Something over which they had no control - gender, race, language, physical handicap, religion, socioeconomic status one is born into, etc. - has been a limitation along life's journey. We must strive to understand rather than be understood.
This said, integrity, compassion and self-confidence are FREE and they know no barriers. How many people have risen above the limitations they were born into because they embodied those 3 important traits? Think about that next time you are tempted to blame others or society for your plight. In the end, each of us decides to live the life we want.
For those of you parents out there who can relate to this sentiment. Everyone is someone's baby. Show some grace toward one another the next time you might be tempted to otherwise.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2008 9:13:58 PM PST
A. McManus says:
Ignorant outsider statement, obviously. You should study the subject a little more.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2008 9:21:32 PM PST
A. McManus says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2008 8:04:44 PM PST
Kevin says:
I'm a black male. I'm applying to Cornell and Emory for entrance this fall. I currently live in an area that is predominantly black. You want to hear somethings?

There are many problems in this country. I've seen a lot and have heard a lot. You've all obviously decided that we have a problem. So, what do you do? Either you blame? Or you just talk about it. There are never any solutions offered. Well, Rarely. I'm agreeing, black people are thugs, blah blah blah. Ok. So you just let them continue down the path that their going? You give up? With every other problem this government seems to be faced with, their are solutions aplenty. This one seems to just inspire arguments and disinterest. Read the comments above. I think 95% of them are about the problem. Not what to do about it.

I agree. There are many factors that attribute to the disproportionate per capita amount of African-American youth that we see in prison. Now. Let's have a history lesson. Let's look at every culture, every society, every single civilization that has ever existed. We find that the people who are in prison are usually the poor. The people who fit the lowest socio-economic standards. Whether they're poor blacks, whites, hispanics, w/e. It's those who don't have the same kinds of opportunities and similar levels of education.

So you can stand here, and cry about it some more? Or you can actually do something about the problem? Try to fix our schools? How about not neglecting the minority schools in our district. If you want to give predominantly white schools more money and more attention? By all means go ahead? But please stop bitching when the results show up five ten and twenty years later? And if you think I'm just exaggerating? Please? Drive down the street? And look at the shape of the schools in a good and bad district.

We have a problem. Where is our solution? You can say whatever you want? Yes it's our fault. No it's not. Who cares. It's a problem that needs to be solved. Let's solve it? Or try?

You can look at any country in the known world and see that the jails are filled with people who are the poorest? It's a cycle. You can say what you want about taking hard earned money from those who've worked for it. Fine? I'm sure that those tax cuts for the wealthy really helped them out. I'm sure those upper middle class families are doing so terribly. You can continue to not make sure that schools are underfunded?

Here. I think that everyone would agree that most decisions are made using some form of rationality? Do you really think that the same rationale is applied when someone is brought up by two parents in a nice house and attends a nice high school -- compared to someone who is brought up by one parent in a apartment?

If you want to ignore the problem or feel it's not your responsibility to help? Fine? I'm sure your complaints will make everything better.

How about you volunteer for a week at any minority institution that is understaffed and filled with kids? Schools? After school programs? Tutoring? Any of them? That makes a bit of a difference? Not standing here and bitching about it. You can say you've tried to change the situation, you've tried to help, you've tried to change lives? Or you can complain to your spouse about those damn no good minorities who are always raising hell.

It's so much easier to talk about a problem.
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