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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

We spend too much money putting people in prison.  Of course, criminals must be punished but it would be better if the crimes never happened in the first place.  I am 47 years old and I have never made 47K per year but the national average cost of an inmate is $47,000 and as much as $60,000 in New York. 

The statistics from a CBS Sunday Morning news story are alarming: 1 in 3 Black men between the ages of 18 and 34 are in the system (jail, prison, probate or parole); 50% of released inmates return in three years. 

The old “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality sounds great for political candidates and officeholders but we are spending $63 Billion per year on incarceration.  Guys who ended behind bars, many for non-violent drug related offenses, often discover that education and faith are wonderful; I wish they learned that in junior high school or earlier.

I don’t have the answers: however, I have always felt that prison seems like the bondage of slavery but slaves didn’t have a choice, could still live with mates and could go outside (the good Lord knows that I would go crazy if I couldn’t go outside when I wanted.)  The possible answers include mentor programs for youth, men being real fathers and reducing drug usage.  With constant cries for reducing governmental spending, addressing the prison situation is a must.

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George Zimmerman meant well but we must be careful in our zeal to protect our communities.  Trayvon Martin was a better young man than most but sorting good kids from the bad ones has become difficult because most of them –Black, White and Brown- seems to admire the thug/hard element. 

I didn’t add “Yellow” to the list above because (as I stereotype) Asians youth in America still respect their elders and attempt to be obedient.  Oh, it is a matter of time before certain parts of American culture ruin them also. 

We have two or three generations of young people who don’t give a flip about how they carry themselves.  They will say or do anything in front of anyone and dare you to look at them sideways.  Zimmerman, with the warmth of his firearm, wanted to be that heroic figure in the neighborhood who stood for what was right; he wanted to be the man not afraid to stop the crime drama.  But, he stepped mistakenly to a decent guy. 

On some level, I feel like the guy on the block who senior citizens seek regarding community matters but I am much smarter than Zimmerman.  You must establish a vibe with the young folks and I have found that the holiday season is the best time.  During Christmas and the Fourth of July, my 40 something classmates come home to visit their parents and, of course, yell (like we do) at a brother from down the street.  It usually surprises the current young people to know that their uncles were once young and that some oldheads gave us words of wisdom—now it’s our turn. 

The seed gets planted when my old friends put their massive hands on their nephews’ shoulders and say, “listen to my homeboy and help him keep the block straight for moms.”  That nephew and his crew are the ones with the booming car music at 3 a.m.  We always want to diplomatically address these matters rather than seeing another person heading to expensive penal system.

We have so much unemployment in rural Georgia but a factory closing doesn’t mean you don’t have a job to do.  Most of my friends have worked continuously since high school.  I have seen guys laboring to keep their kids in Polo and Tommy gear but the kids grow up with a feeling of entitlement.  A year out of work might just be the year when dude saves his son from the streets or the year when moms’ house get the renovations it needed. 

On the job front, we are starting to see reports on employers who will only hire whose currently working.  Really?  In my community, we must do everything we can to weather these rough times.  The good news is that Black folks have perseverance encode on our DNA.  If we get rid of Polo, Tommy and other aspects of conspicuous consumption, we could live with less money.  Secondly, we must stop trying to keep up with the Jones because the Joneses are in debt up to their eyeballs. 

There is nothing wrong with a guy being a stay at home dad for a minute; I have been a stay at home son for more than a minute and yes the salary drama is stressing me out.  We are now the old guys who voluntarily read the Bible and I like Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength and the beauty of old men is the grey head.”  I find Psalm 71:18 to be equally cool “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and they power to every one that is to come.”  While unemployed, you still have work that needs to be done.

Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Well, my daddy had a strong commitment to our community and my neighborhood was created in the 1970s by men who were overworked and underpaid on someone else’s farms.  If those dead men paid for these houses with years of hard labor, we can’t let a few half-raised youth destroy the area to the degree that widows are in constant fear.  And the crazy thing is that homies who come home from prison are the main ones telling the youth that the wild path isn’t the right one.

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What is the real cost of crime in America? 

The departments of the federal government directly and indirectly crossover each other.  Problems for the Justice Department often start with the Department of Education’s poor performance.  As we know, there isn’t necessarily a government answer to every problem.  As hard as it might sound, Americans who are fed-up with violent crime often think that some of the criminals never should have been born in the first place. 

Not to start an abortion debate, we should good farther back.  How can we address the huge cost of the criminal justice system by encouraging (if not forcing) people to be more deliberate about when and with whom they have kids?  Of course, young people later realize that they should have wait to a better position and situation in life before starting a family—the difference between 18 and 26 years old would be wonderful.  It hurts to think about young boys who might be heading for the jail because no one properly prepared them for life.  We spend more funds keeping guys in the State Pen than keeping them in Penn State; what a waste of human and financial resources.

LaDonna from HBO's Treme

If you do a crime, you should do the time but most of that drama and the effects on victims could have been avoided.  The HBO series Treme hit me hard recently with the violent and senseless attacks on the character bar owner LaDonna and later street music Harley Watt.  This young thug shot Harley during a street robbery for calling him “son” and the gang assault on LaDonna was painful to watch.  While that is a T.V. show, crime happens every hour of every day and I am pissed.

The U.S. Justice Department, in my opinion, should invest more in reaching those heading down the wrong path.  Some presidential candidate or the current president should be tough enough to say that we need to discourage people from having children until they are fully prepared to raise a law-abiding citizen.  It cost more to put a thug in prison for a year than many people make in salary in a year.  I shouldn’t get started on the young parents who leave the responsibility of parenthood to their parents.  The economy is rough and grandparents should be planning for retirement rather than spending on grandkids while the baby-makers slide.

Albany Herald columnist Carlton Fletcher wrote a strong one about this subject this week.

http://www.albanyherald.com/opinioncolumns/headlines/Capital_case_causes_ignore_true_victims_124688249.html

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In Georgia, we spend too much money on criminal justice after spending cash for 12 years to education whose who would become criminals.  New Governor and former congressman Nathan Deal was alarmed by the crime-related items in the state budget.  To me, it’s like that old Fram oil filter commercial: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later” the mechanic says.

Well, we should pay teachers who today unfortunately do more than the teachers of old.  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Spike Lee are pushing for more Black men to consider teaching.  Currently, one percent of teachers are Black men and over the next 20 years many teachers will be retiring.  In this down economy, teaching could be a cool option for those with the right temperament and the paid is not bad.

Education officials should look into a program Silver Springs, Maryland, had in the 90s called college style teaching.  The D.C. Area had many retired federal workers and military veterans who would like to work part-time because they were basically fine financially.  The school system found recruiting difficult because those who wanted to simply teach didn’t wanted the headache of hall, bus, homeroom and activities duties.  While the majority of the teachers were “full teachers with full pay,” the college style teachers, who received less money, arrived on campus 30 minutes before their first class, taught two classes, had a planning period, taught two more class and left campus—similar to college professors.

Options for other duties like coaching and clubs came with more money in a cafeteria plan like current coaches’ stipends or supplements.  We could be talking about former Wall Street executives, well-travelled war veterans, and high-paid factory worker who want a change for the last phase of their working years.  If the schedules are right, these teachers might split time between teaching and consulting in their former fields.  The real winners would be the children who would get teachers who know exactly what the workforce needs.  I love the idea of lower grades kids having more positive men in the schools as role models.

Yes, our communities were better when parents and the church primarily raised kids.  Today, music videos, the internet, 150 T.V. channels and the streets are framing young minds.  If we don’t do something innovative soon, we will continue spending more money sending youth to Georgia State Penitentiary than Georgia State University.  The rough kids disrupt the education experience for those to want to learn.  I will tell you what: get this program before my 50th birthday and I will teaching four American government/civic classes and coach tennis for 30K and be glad to have it.      

The added benefit of having clean-cut men in the schools is the character options for boys, and the experience of being around real men for girls whose fathers were elsewhere.  Oh yeah, some of those life-long daddy issues and quickness to argue with men stem from rarely being around a certain type man.  As Chuck D said in the rap rhyme back in the day, “with a man in the house…the bullsh__ stops.” I shouldn’t go there but let me rhyme, “with men in the schools…knowledge becomes more cool.”

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The headline in last Thursday’s Augusta Chronicle ‘Juvenile Crime up 23% in Richmond in the last year’ was troubling.  So much so that I teamed up with a friend who manages three Waffle House restaurants and three local organizations that work directly with at-risk and disenfranchised boys to do something about it. A press conference was held Wednesday and once again the local media were there. Our CBS and NBC affiliate, our daily newspaper and the black owned weekly newspaper were there and gave us much coverage and much love. In about 24 hours, we’ve got over 60 men who have signed up to serve as mentors for our young boys. Our goal is 250 men, by August 7th, who commit to at least one hour per week with a young man. It seems we’re well on our way. We’ve even attracted people who want to help ‘recruit’ men to get involved. I’m blown away by the response we’ve received in such a short time…

The following article was featured in today’s Augusta Chronicle. http://www.augustachronicle.com

Effort seeks mentors for young males
By Stephanie TooneStaff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Helen Blocker-Adams met with media and community partners Wednesday about filling the void of father figures in the lives of Richmond County’s young males. // <![CDATA[//

Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Radio host Helen Blocker-Adams (right) and Waffle House District Manager Escubar Moore (left) want men to volunteer to be mentors for young males to help combat the rise in juvenile crime in Augusta.

Mrs. Blocker-Adams, a talk show host on WNRR-AM 1230, said she was disturbed after reading in The Augusta Chronicle that juvenile crime has increased 23 percent in the past three months, compared to the same time last year. That should be a wake-up call to Augusta, she said.

“Juvenile crime is just off the Richter scale,” she told a crowd in front of the Waffle House on Gordon Highway on Wednesday. “We have to find some surrogate fathers for these young males because a lot them don’t have one.”

She and Escubar Moore, the district manager of three Augusta Waffle House restaurants, will sponsor the Back to School Men’s Drive for Kids, a campaign to recruit positive male role models for Augusta’s male youth.

By July 27, Mrs. Blocker-Adams and Mr. Moore hope to sign up 250 men to volunteer with local mentoring agencies: Dads in Action, An Ounce of Prevention and Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry.

Mr. Moore said men can sign up at Waffle House locations on Gordon Highway, Deans Bridge Road and Wrightsboro Road. The men are asked to give one hour a week with one of the three mentoring agencies. About 75 men had signed up to volunteer as of Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Moore said.

“I hope we blow that number away and have even more,” he said. “That 250 hours per week can make a whole lot of difference in our community.”

Devon Harris, the executive director of the Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry, has worked with troubled youth for several years. He said the statistics are not surprising. A positive male in the lives of some of the young men in his program could make a difference in their lives and have an impact on the community, Mr. Harris said.

“We want to think it’s somebody else’s problem or the government’s problem, but we have to plant the seed,” he said. “These young men are looking for guidance. They want someone to invest in their lives.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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Mindless Crime

The sun came up in the east in Sylvester, Georgia, today.  It rose over an old pecan grove and the tranquility of the morning was broken by news that two area 80 year old women were beaten and robbed in separate incidents by males who look like me and the two seniors.

 

I can hear the accuses already, “I was just trying to provide for my family because the man is holding me down.”  Sylvester, which has a Black police chief, is in a state with a Black Attorney General.  The state is in a country with a Black Attorney General who was appointed by a Black President.  I guess I should add that a Black Georgian sits on the highest court in the land.

 

If the man is trying to hold criminals of any hue down, let’s hope criminals stand up—cuffed and ready for transport.

 

While working as a congressional staffer in D.C., my boss wanted me to give up my Million Man March VIP pass so he could give it to his dear colleague then Rep. Harold Ford, Sr. who had several sons and one was being groomed to replace him in congress.  Those “grassroot” Black congresspeople are often a snooty bunch of elitist who function like royalty and expect the masses to kiss their rings.  Okay, I sound like sour grapes because I never quite fit into their snobbish circles and Rep. Ford, Jr. because a sound young congressman.

 

At the MMM, Mrs. Rosa Parks was speaking and I asked the guy next to me what would happen if Mrs. Parks acknowledged with love and forgiveness the attendance of the knucklehead who broke into her house and roughed her up.   Dude and I agreed that he would have two million feet in his behind—from my Rockports to Ice Cube’s Converse All-Stars. 

 

So the righteous among us would quote Romans 12:19: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it s written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord.

 

But since we were right there, let us get this one for you, saith “Folks done with mindless crime.” 

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The Florida Gators won the national college football championship—again.  Go Gainesville Gators, Go.  That Tim Tebow is one outstanding young man; his parents did a fine job raising him but some of that is genetics – which they provided also. Congrats to Myron Rolle from the FSU Football Team on his Rhodes Scholarship; putting Cecil’s ill-gotten gains to good use.  Rhodes wanted a secret society to promote British rule around the world; Rolle is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.  Tebow and Rolle might be the next Obama-types. 
 

Also, don’t sleep on Georgian Maya Moore who plays basketeball with Uconn and graduated from Atlanta’s Collins Hills High School with a 4.0 GPA. 
 

Tebow, a service-minded Christian athlete, was homeschooled by smart people; which leads to the fact that not everybody who homeschools will product a brainy Heisman Trophy winner.  So, if you are not smart enough to homeschool your kids past a certain grade level, you might not be smart enough to know it.  Some kids need to be at school and/or church for socialization purposes.  Yes, many school systems have uncontrollable little monsters who are exposed to heaven-knows-what at home and the teachers can’t stop them from “sharing” in the halls and cafeterias.
 
I think Georgia now has an innovative program for children to learn via the internet.  Can you image a cul-de-sac with six or seven homes where all the parents are bright and they create their own little school in a pool house or garage.  Parents who telecommute can swing by for a few classes and the banker can come home to teach economics during her lunch hour.  And mom can bake ginger bread cookies and vacuum in heels while wearing pearls.  
 
I am sure what the answers are with education options but some dramatic changes are needed because Little Johnny who does not learn might eventually be Jo-Dog, master of the cellblock for 15 to 20 years.  Georgia spends 1.2 Billion dollars on the state’s prison system—which does not include caring for the families of some inmates.  The education system is like that old oil filter ad, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.”
 
It all comes down to parenting and home training and President Obama will likely say what many reasonable people are thinking, “Some folks need children like a fish needs a bicycle.”

 
When Soon-to-be Speaker Newt Gingrich considering provisions for his agenda, he publicly discussed giving 21 year olds $5000 if he graduated from high school, had no out of wedlock kids and no criminal activity.  Those who say you can’t legislate morality never met Newt.  Hey, that plan is cheaper than lock’em up.

UPDATE: The list grows; Stephen Curry with Davidson College is another good kid. Like Grant Hill was back in the day.

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