The Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network is a non-profit agency located in North Philadelphia that seeks to tackle some of the leading problems in our communities such as drug abuse and violence within our communities.
Their mission is to transform the lives of many of the children/adults, here in the city through “the development and implementation of programs that reduce juvenile delinquency, young adult criminality, as well as relapse into criminal behavior.”
Sequence 1 Charles from Philadelphia Neighborhoods1 on Vimeo.
Text and Video by Sharee Cole
During a class assignment, we were asked to pick an issue in society that we would like to see changed and provide evidence to support that there is indeed an issue. I chose to write about the modern day slavery taking place right under our noses in the prison systems. Here are some stats I found along with my voice on the issue.
First off there is a cycle. Find a way to target African Americans. (War on drugs…check). Find a way to make sure the sentencing sticks. (Make sure the jurors on the panel are predominantly white…check). When they get out, make it so hard for them to find jobs, due to their record, that they have to resort to activities that will land them right back in jail. (Recidivism…check).
- According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, employer surveys reveal that 74 percent to 96 percent of employers, admit that felony convictions play a major role in the hiring decision.
- According to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEO laws prohibit employers from discriminating when using criminal history information.1. Sub-point: The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was amended as Title VII, prohibits employers from discriminating in employment based on color, race, national origin, religion, or sex.
- Criminal conduct exclusion is allowed only if the employer can show that it is relevant to at least one of the three determining factors. The nature and gravity of the offense (Ex. conviction of felony theft-deception, threats), the time that has passed since the offense (still recent), and the nature of the job (if the crime relates to the areas of the job description).
Though employers have guidelines to follow in regards to the hiring process, many ex-criminals still cannot find jobs. Why is that?
- A 2010 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that between 1.5 and 1.6 million of those with criminal records are locked out of the job market each year, costing the U.S 65 billion in annual economic productivity.
When employers do not want to hire ex-felons, it can also be viewed as an excuse to sustain racial inequality since African Americans make up 40 percent of the incarceration population but only 12 percent of the U.S population according to the U.S Department of Labor. The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Over the last 30 years, the incarcerated population has more than quadrupled, and today, just about 2.3 million men and women are held in prisons and jails.
- One out of twenty-eight children has a parent behind bars while that number changes to one out of 9 for African American children.
According to MSNBC, in 2011 alone, there were more African Americans in prison or “under the watch” of the justice system than there were enslaved in the U.S in 1850. This stems from the war on drugs but statistics have shown that blacks and caucasians use/sell drugs at the same rate but African Americans are the ones constantly being arrested for the offense.
- In an article by the Huffington Post, African Americans are frequently illegally excluded from criminal jury service according to a 2010 study by the Equal Justice Initiative. A Kentucky judge by the name Olu Stevens can attest to this since he recently had to dismiss a panel of jurors not once but twice for lacking minorities in cases where the defendant was black.
What better way to keep African Americans in prison except by making sure their kind aren’t on the jury when it comes to sentencing?. Please stay woke people.
Scenarios such as these, show how Africans Americans make up majority of the incarcerated population and how this trickles down to the hiring process and discrimination since they are the ones suffering when it comes to finding jobs.
This is how the cycle of recidivism occurs. Recidivism is when a person is released and resorts back to criminal activities that gets them thrown back in jail. Usually when people sell drugs or steals; it is not for the benefit of them, but to support someone close to them. This will happen if a released criminal cannot find a job. They will do what it takes to find a way to support these people.