Mass Incarceration was a term we created as a descriptive of a process. Too many young black men were going to jail and prison, leaving behind a void in the family structure. The biggest problem was father leaving their children behind. The burden of child support falls on others, namely mothers without their men, grandparents, charities, and state agencies.
As a child’s rights advocate, it is my job to look after the survival of these children, and all other children who are neglected and abused. From a sociological point of view this means the well-being of a child, from conception to viability, until the child is able to survive in society on their own. They call these “at-risk” kids because of environmental risks and challenges that these children must overcome before they can take their place in society.
Old School Revolutionaries, who have studied the risk factors in current society, build the necessary support systems as bridges over which these children can overcome their obstacles. The ultimate objective is to provide a strong foundation for the family, which entails the survivability of the mother, her child or children, and the reclamation of the absentee father. A strong family is the building block of our society and a participant in the governing and control of that society.
With this perspective, we focus upon the Child, Mother, and Father, as the basic unit of our society. As an Old School activist, I am member of the Strong Family and Community Services team of the Morningside Children's Partnership. We are into the second year of implementation of our Cradle-to-Career Initiative.
In homes where the fathers are MIA, the family unit is Mother and Child. Their basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and financial assistance (in lieu of the missing potential income of the absentee father). For this purpose, we began building a support network of social services to assist and guide mothers and children in accessing these resources. This system has since grown into a statewide network, now centralized and coordinated by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission through the 211 System. The Texas 211 hotline is free and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and provides contact information to the following catalog of services:
In order to address the specific problems facing young black men, from youth through fatherhood, we addressed the School-to-Prison Pipeline, the Criminal Justice System, Incarceration, and Post-Incarceration.
The starting point and the ending point are one and the same: How to help young men become good fathers. For this purpose, we created a local chapter of the Fatherhood Initiative, with a wealth of information and contacts in the “Dad’s Pocket Resource Guide”. A lot of the listed resources may also be accessed through the Texas 211 System.
The head of the School-to-Prison Pipeline begins inside the public school system. By tracking students going through the AEDP (disciplinary process), we can estimate the rate of Juvenile Delinquency in the FWISD. The Texas Education Agency provides an annual report on the number of disciplinary actions taken within the school system, but daily reports can be generated whenever necessary. This helps us to identify which schools or which students need an intervention strategy.
We have also worked with the Fort Worth Police Department and the Juvenile Courts to save as many young people as possible from incarceration. As of late, we have worked diligently to prevent our young black men from being killed by the police during confrontations.
We have worked collaborative with faith-based organizations and the Texas Parole Division to successfully reintegrate ex-offenders back into society. We developed a reentry strategy that has proven so successful that the state modeled its program after it. (See Texas Department of Criminal Justice Reentry and Integration Division).