Why the High Number of African Americans in Prison??
Friday September 8, the Urban Institute announced preliminary results from their Justice Policy Center study called "Returning Home: Experiences of Former Prisoners Residing in Cleveland" at the Cleveland Food Bank. This got no coverage in the Plain Dealer today, but was picked up by WKSU and WCPN. NEOCH attended the forum for the release of information. What we found to be the most amazing statistic that was not mentioned in the other media was the high number of African Americans returning from incarceration. This is the most damning statistic on the current state of Ohio with 53% of those leaving prison in Ohio are identified as "Black" while only 11.5% of the population of Ohio are "African American Only" according to the US Census. In Greater Cleveland 74% of those returning from prison are African American while only 28.9% of Cuyahoga County identify themselves as African American.
How can this not be identified as an Apartheid system? Are we enslaving a generation of African Americans through the judiciary instead of the public auction used from 1699 to 1865 in America? I do not understand why this fact is ignored? Why is this huge disparity not the focus of this report or at least mentioned boldly? It is just used as a dry fact in a lengthy report about the current state of our misnamed "Corrections and Rehabilitation" system. It is accepted as a reality that the percentage of those in the prison population contain four times as many African Americans as the population of Ohio. How is their not rioting over the incarceration disparity in Ohio? I do not understand how the large number of African American "Corrections" officers do not see this new form of slavery and speak out? How can the prison work industry not be viewed as the modern cotton field? I am floored by this disparity. How can we demonstrate to caring people that if all 5,300 returning from prison to Cuyahoga County every year were gathered together in one place only 18% or 985 people would have white faces.
Other statistics that are troubling from this report:
**47% of those returning from prison have a violent offense in their background. (Not the one tenth of one percent mentioned by Geoff in the Callahan police shooting discussion.)
**Only 27% of those in prison received any type of counseling which includes mental health counseling.
**Only 31% have lived with a spouse or partner or alone after their release. 4 out of 5 rely on family for housing after release.
**Prior to prison, 84% reported drug use or intoxication with half reporting daily drug or alcohol use. After release, 23% still report drug use or intoxication in last 30 days.
**Only 30% report legal employment upon release with another 23% reporting "under the table employment."
**Only 39% report participation in post-release programming.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.