Tuesday, March 3, 2015

M3 Beacast Ep 6: Criminal Justice and the Black Community

Episode 6: Criminal Justice and the Black Community 
March 3, 2015

Many black men find themselves involved in the criminal justice system. What is often left behind is a trail of broken people who have trouble getting steady work and don’t know how to relate. In the latest episode of the Bearcast, I want to talk about how the criminal justice system can affect relationships in the black community, how our distrust of the law has a ripple effect on the community as a whole and what strategies we can adopt to curb the rate of recidivism.

First, I talk to Mark Estes about the strained relationship his sister has had with her boyfriend. He is in and out of jail and has a hard time finding work. I asked him to explain the things he’s learned about how institutionalized attitudes have affected his family. It seems that when a family member dates someone who doesn’t care or is self-destructive, the harder you try to get them to leave the harder they will fight to keep them. Sometimes people just don’t want to hear the truth. Maybe they just aren’t ready for it.

David Vollin talks about the larger effects of crime on the community as a whole. He talks about how there is a huge influx of black men who come out of prison who are fundamentally unemployable or are likely underemployed. He talks about how kids are often enamored by the stories of men who have been in prison and find their stories exciting. What sort of message does that send to the next generation about what type of person that they want to be?

I reference our discussion about respectability politics a little realize that for some having been to prison is a way to gain status in some communities. If you want to signal fear or authority, you need to have gone through this right of passage. I then ask Gerald and Breeze  if they would date someone with a criminal record and what sort of advice they would talk to someone who has a criminal record and what advice they would give to someone who does.

Do scared straight programs actually work? David talks about how the videos of those programs make the prison experience seem very unsexy and unwelcoming even to those who aren’t in danger of being incarcerated.  Mark then talks about how much further our culture has to go before it values education and stops glorifying ignorance. 

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