Fighting crime and incarceration in Black America

February 8, 2007

Paul Butler, a former prosecutor, now law professor, and regular contributor to Blackprof, spoke to NPR’s Ed Gordon regarding crime and incarceration in the black community (audio here). The conversation was over a year ago, but I listened to it again recently and was reminded that Butler’s analysis and recommendations stand the test of time. Butler argues that since black people are disproportionately represented as victims and defendants in the criminal system, what black people have to say about what we should do about crime deserves special consideration.

I have long been saying this about black youth–black youth are disproportionately victimized by criminals and by police abuse, so we should listen to what they say about policing and crime prevention. If we do it right, they can be effective advocates for safer communities and more just policing. For more on this, see Community Policing and Youth as Assets on my homepage (warning, the article is long).

Of course, the black community is hardly monolithic. But there is wide agreement on a number of the points Butler makes: we need increased economic investments to raise employment opportunities, educational investments that increase the number of kids who graduate from high school, and community-wide investments in mentoring for teens and health care for infants. Butler also talks about what individuals can do in their own neighborhoods and communities. It is 11 minutes, and worth a listen.

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