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Blacks get 20 percent longer sentences than whites

caines | 3/21/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Can Black families reclaim their youth?

T. Willard Fair, 74, CEO Urban League of Greater Miami says things still look bad for Blacks and with good reason. When you look at the people doing the arresting, the juries that we tend to face and the judge who is responsible for the sentence, it should not surprise us that Blacks are getting longer sentences or that Blacks make up the largest percentage of those incarcerated, he said. You have to wonder, when we will wake up? This has less to do with politics and more to do with the inability of the Black family to function in a healthy, positive manner. We have more women having children out of wedlock and we have fewer Black men actively engaged in the lives of their children. In Liberty City, it isnt whites who are doing the killing. Its Blacks shooting other Blacks. Our response is to have a meeting or a press conference which does nothing. Why do we have one woman having children by three or four different men? If things are bad for Blacks we have to start pointing the finger at ourselves and examine the decisions were making. State Representative Cynthia Stafford says we must continue to demand greater parity in sentencing until the difference between Blacks and whites is zero. Florida and other states have moved towards privatizing the prisons and that means its now an industry the prison industrial complex, she said. The purpose of any industry is to make money and in this case the product is our own people. Once Black boys get involved in the system, even as early as elementary school when they are suspended or put in the juvenile detention system, they become labeled. By the time theyre adults, they cant vote, they cant get a loan for college and they cant qualify for a number of jobs. What options do they have left? In Florida, we have all but eliminated the effective programs that once helped inmates turn their lives around. What we need are more treatment and diversion programs included in our prison system. We need to bring back GED programs and college-level courses. Instead of investing in prisons, we should be working on enhancing reentry programs for former inmates. Were spending our money on the wrong things. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com