Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund, has some answers that addresses the Prison Pipeline crisis. She offers us some valuable insights in stemming the flow of our youth into the juvenile justice system and hence into prison.
As a community activist and child's right advocate, I find Marian Wright Edelman work very refreshing, if not fascinating with hope.
Breaking the pipeline to prison
By Marian Wright Edelman
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children's Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies to help children escape poverty, abuse and neglect and gain access to health care and education. Edelman was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar and was a leader in the civil rights movement. Her latest book is "The Sea Is So Wide And My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation."
(Excerpted by Eddie Griffin)
(CNN) -- One of the most dangerous threats facing black America right now is quietly stealing our children at a young age.
Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid, and poor children of color are the fodder.
So many poor black babies in rich America enter the world with multiple strikes against them: born without prenatal care, at low birthweight and to a poor, and poorly educated, teenage single mother and an absent father.
At crucial points in their development after birth through adolescence, more risks pile on, making a successful transition to productive adulthood significantly less likely and involvement in the criminal justice system significantly more likely.
This is America's pipeline to prison, a trajectory that is funneling tens of thousands of youths down life paths that lead to marginalized lives, imprisonment and, often, premature death.
Nationally, one in three black boys and one in 17 black girls born in 2001 is at risk of imprisonment during their lifetime.
It's time to sound a loud alarm about this threat to American unity and community, act to stop the growing criminalization of children at younger and younger ages, and tackle the unjust treatment of minority youths and adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems with urgency and persistence.
We must reduce detention and incarceration by increasing preventive supports and services children need, including access to comprehensive child health and mental health coverage, quality early childhood development programs like Early Head Start, and supports for parents including home visitation programs. And every child has to get an education that prepares him or her to succeed in the 21st-century economy.
The failure to act now will reverse the hard-earned racial and social progress for which the Rev. Martin Luther King and so many others died and sacrificed. The urgent challenge for each of us and for our nation is to prevent this waste of our children's lives and our nation's future capabilities.
Read what is being done to stem the flow of our youth into the Prison Pipeline: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/06/17/edelman.children.prison/index.html