Three Key Impacts of the Mass Incarceration of Black Americans

In some cases, huge numbers of black and brown prisoners are segregated into special units (from an LA Sentinel Article March 2014)

Guest Blog by Brandon Garrick, Masters of Social Work Candidate at NC State University

In the United States, mass incarceration among African Americans is a social issue that is often disregarded. Like other issues, our population often overlooks this particular issue since it does not directly impact the majority of the population. The negative racial perspectives on criminals associated with African Americans is a contributing factor to society’s collective blindness on this problem. This cycle of placing a disproportionate number of young African Americans behind bars based on Racism and Racial discrimination is definitely problematic.

The enormous imprisonment of African Americans has three key impacts that include:

1) Economic Cost. Mass incarceration as a whole is expensive, and in many cases of innocent individuals and non- violent offenders, is unnecessary. Individuals within prison are given meals, healthcare, and are excluded from earning revenue or paying taxes. The overall price tag on American incarceration is nearly 80 billion dollars. The amount we spend on incarceration has nearly tripled since 1980. Incarcerating millions of African Americans is negatively effecting society from a economic perspective.

2) Increasing our racial divide. The imprisonment of large percentages of African Americans negatively contributes to a racial divide in our country. The mind-boggling statistics of how many African Americans are facing incarceration feeds into the negative stereotype of African Americans being criminals. In addition the media portraying African Americans in hand cuffs or behaving criminally negatively shapes these views.

3) Harming communities and families. The mass incarceration of African Americans hurts communities in various ways. Mass incarceration often breaks family structures which hurts exterior communities. Also prison does a poor job of rehabilitating African Americans and often throws them in them back into same communities with little chance of succeeding.

Mass incarceration of African Americans is truly everybody’s problem, and should not be overlooked. This issue of mass incarceration is problematic from a social and economic perspective. When these individuals are released back into our communities without proper skills to make it, it often results in them continuing the crime cycle, further harming our communities. Bryan Stevenson does a great job explaining the overall issue alongside statistics. This dynamic “Ted Talk” video explains a lot more of the current issue of mass incarceration.

Look for part 2 of this blog series in 3-4 weeks, where I will propose some solutions to this issue.

And if you want to learn more about the social issue of mass incarceration among African Americans and receive a more in depth paper on this issue, you can reach out to me at [email protected].

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Guest blogger Brandon Garrick is a Masters of Social Work Candidate at NC State University

Brandon Garrick is my second cousin who I enjoy spending a lot if time with. He recently completed his Bachelor of Sociology at North Carolina State University, and has now entered their Master’s Program of Social Work. He worked full time at North Carolina’s Central Prison as a corrections officer while completing his bachelor’s degree, and has a deep concern about the many social issues facing our nation and the world. He will now be a regular guest blogger discussing these various issues.

Three Wonderful Recent Examples of Diversity in Sports

Photo credits: (1) Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, (2) Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America, (3) U.S. Sports – Stripes

Please see links to several of my other resources and my blogs about sports and diversity at the bottom of this page.

It is no secret that I enjoy sports, including writing about the intersection of sports and my professional field of diversity consulting. And even in my own life, I started my journey, against all odds, of training as an adult competitive figure skater at the tender age of 59! (You can read all about this journey on my figure skating page.)

Recently (Sunday, April 29th) my spirit was uplifted by 3 wonderful stories in our Raleigh News and Observer sports section that prominently included diversity aspects. The three stories included a football star with a missing hand, a WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) star experiencing new motherhood with her wife, and an immigrant African girl routinely beaten and growing up in poverty coming to America and becoming a college track star.

Here is a short look at these three wonderful stories:

1) Overcoming a disability. Linebacker Shaquem Griffin, after four years of playing on the University of Central Florida’s football team, was recently drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, where he will join his twin brother Shaquill. This one handed young man, with great speed, a knack for the ball, and an infectious enthusiasm, overcame the disability of a missing hand to become the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, and the first one-handed player to be drafted by the NFL. Link to full Orlando Sentinel Story.

2) LGBT Acceptance. WNBA star Diana Taurasi’s wife Penny Taylor recently gave birth to a son on March 1st. Heartwarming stories of star athletes becoming parents for the first time are quite common as “human interest” stories in the news, but societal progress toward acceptance of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people into mainstream society is demonstrated by the simple “matter of fact” “no big deal” way this story of the lesbians moms is portrayed. Link to full Associated Press Story.

3) An immigrant growing up with abuse and poverty. As a young girl in Ghana after her mother died, Amanda Agana was raised by an aunt who routinely beat her, smasher her fingers with rocks, and singed her skins with a smoldering end of a stick. When she was eleven, Amanda was adopted and brought to the United States by Carol Meadows, a nurse-practitioner from Arkansas. During the long emotional and physical healing process, Amanda’s skill of running away to avoid constant beatings was channeled into winning races on her high school track team. Now Amanda is attending the US Naval Academy, where she is an emerging college track star. Link to Washington Post story.

These three stories illustrate how determination can help people overcome disabilities, societal stigma, prejudice, poverty and physical challenges to become empowered people achieving great things and a fulfilling life.

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Link to Resource: Breaking Barriers: Strategies for Inclusivity in Sports

Links to some my other blogs featuring diversity and sports

A blog about Bridge II Sports, a local non-profit with a robust series of athletic programs for people with disabilities.

Five Key Messages on The Importance of Out Gay Olympic Athletes, which also includes links to two blogs featuring a series of fabulous out gay figure skaters.

Fortunate is the NFL Team that Drafts Out Gay Football Standout Michael Sam!

Football, Bullying and LGBT Diversity – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Five Important Ramifications of NBA Pro Basketball Player Jason Collins’ Coming Out

And finally, a link to my whole series of “Get Up” Blogs inspired by US Figure Skating’s “Get Up” campaign, with the theme, that, in all aspects of our lives, like in figure skating, we may fall, but the more times we get up and persevere, the stronger we become.