This Week's 'One Tribe, Many Voices' podcast features an educational project that I did for incarcerated teens. Sometimes it seems as if 75% of all Black & Latino boys have been incarcerated in this state. Every time that I have visited a correctional facility, I have been startled by the sheer numbers of young men who are being warehoused in the United States.
In many neighborhoods, incarceration has become a 'rite of passage' for young men. There is no negative stigma attached to their plight since it is more the norm than an anomaly. For many, imprisonment has become the path most trodden. It may be the more likely 'straight path' for those who find grade school irrelevant.
The most disturbing reality is that serial incarceration has breed a generation that is not uneasy with the dehumanization of imprisonment. Some young men feel more self assured within the confines of correctional facilities. They know what to expect and they know what is expected of them. The the halls of justice and education present a clearer danger to them. Could the ugly secret be that society has no use for most of them? Are they taken out of the economic equation early in life so that America can make the numbers look good? Are they factored into the percentage of America's success quotient?