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Invest in schools and jobs, not prisons

African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented in the U.S. prison population.
African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented in the U.S. prison population. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

As we already know, United States incarceration rates are disproportionally higher than anywhere else in the world. According to recent statistics, there are 2.3 million people incarcerated in this country. Now, if we look at racial and ethnic backgrounds of inmates currently confined, we will see that African Americans represent 40 percent of the prison population while making up only 13 percent of the U.S population. This conveys again the disproportion among those jailed. It is also evident that while 13 percent of the population is made up of those of Latino background, 19 percent of this population is housed in correctional facilities.

Being from Baltimore, I understand how this poses a huge threat to so many of our upcoming youth and young adults in connection to the unreasonably high crime rates (“No progress for African-Americans on home ownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years,” Feb. 26). I believe that if our communities could ensure better educational programs, recreational facilities and programs, and employment training and services, the city would improve in many ways. There is a major issue in regard to the lack of educational funding in our city schools. When students are falling behind in the classroom, there should be resources where they can talk to someone, get help with their homework or just build a positive social support network in their neighborhood. Once out of school, young adults often struggle to find adequate career opportunities due to a lack of qualifications or issues locating reasonable options within an accessible distance.

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If funding was allocated to employment and training programs, our community members would have better chances finding income sources to support adequate living. Investing in our youth and local resources is a great preventative measure to combat their chances of having negative interactions with the law. Assisting them in transitioning into productive and self-determined adults will ensure their success in adulthood.

Gerleene Garcia, Salisbury

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