Dallas Texas can boast about many, many things. It is the ninth largest city in the United States, and the third largest city in Texas. Dallas is the core, of the largest inland metropolitan area in the United States that lacks any navigable link to the sea, and is the home base for retail store Neiman Marcus. In terms of voting patterns, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the third most liberal of the Texas metropolitan areas (outside of Austin and El Paso). The Super Bowl winning Cowboys call Dallas their home, as well as many other sports teams.
Approximately 1.3 million people call Dallas home, and I must ask; what else could you do with 1.3 million people. The country of Trinidad and Tobago has a population of about 1.3 million. The truth is, with 1.3 million people, Dallas has a larger population than 68 other countries in the World. It is quite impressive to see 1.3 million people, building sky scrapers, growing businesses, creating parks, and contributing to art. With these facts, it is hard to imagine that there is another population, right here in America that is larger than the population of Dallas Texas, and shows no signs of diminishing.
As of June 30, 2007, a population of 2,299,116 would call a prison or jail home. This number has tripled since the early eighties, bringing money to the pockets of contractors and those who have interests or equity in the existence of prisons. While failing to upgrade and re-evaluate the effectiveness of our rehabilitation process, approximately 500,000 youth are taken to detention centers, and the door appears to be revolving. This number can continue to decrease, or increase, dependent upon how congress and this administration choose to deal with: Same-Sex Marriage (with currently 55.7% of American’s 18 and older married, marriage between heterosexuals is on a continual downward spiral. Affording marriage rights to Same Sex Couples could give displaced children, who are at high statistical risk for entering the penal system, a potential home, which may help decrease the number of juvenile crimes and arrests), Revamping No Child Left Behind ( A 2008 study from the Department of Education, “Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report,” concluded that the Reading First Program, a major billion dollar a year No Child Left Behind effort, had proven “ineffective.”), Medicaid (Medicaid provides health coverage and services to approximately 49 million low-income children, pregnant women, elderly persons, and disabled individuals. Under the new federal rule, states are now allowed to charge premiums and higher co-payments to Medicaid participants. At this time, there is no way to determine how juveniles will be impacted by this rule, thus no way to predict how this will impact the number of juvenile arrests.)
A more disturbing figure, impacts the minority sector of the United States. The lack of male role models is often depicted in mainstream media outlets, when trying to replicate a typical minority family setting, function, or event. This reflection is accurate within the African American Community. About 10.4% of all black males in the United States between the ages of 25 and 29 were sentenced and in prison in 2002. If these men were arrested as a part of a “non-violent related” crime, they will be introduced to gang-violence (usually for protection) while incarcerated, and will have a higher rate of returning for a more aggressive charge.
Where and when does this stop?
Reformation of the current penal system has not been addressed by this current administration. As stated on the White House Website concerning Criminal Justice Reform:
“The President will lead the fight to build a more fair and equitable criminal justice system. He will seek to strengthen federal hate crime legislation and will work to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies do not resort to racial profiling. He supports funding for drug courts, giving first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, if appropriate, in drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than prison terms in changing behavior. President Obama will also improve ex-offender employment and job retention strategies, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling so ex-offenders can successfully re-join society.”
The administration has not addressed a plan or the need, for procedural techniques in regards to how the rehabilitation process can be more effective to prisoners while incarcerated. The lack of proper rehabilitation results from detention centers can be attributed to over crowdedness. For an example (as reported by Don Thompson in his book “Prison Attacks Calling Attention to Overcrowding”) California’s 33 prisons have a total capacity of 100,000, but they hold 170,000 inmates. Overcrowding can also be found in another place some juvenile prisoners may find familiar…the schools system (which could be another reason why Fort Worth had to take major precautions with the Swine Flu Outbreak).
Regardless of politics, the next 4 years must produce solutions for the youth of this country. With the Republican Party trying to “re-invent themselves” instead of going to their districts and observing the needs of their constituents, and with the Democratic Party brainstorming ways to hold on to a slim majority in the Senate and State Houses; One in every 31 American adults find themselves in the penal system, whether it is in prison, on parole or serving probation. Something has to change!
Perhaps these words from Sitting Bull, could give insight to what we are dealing with even now:
Each man is good in His sight. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.