GREAT BEGINNINGS FOR BLACK BABIES HOSTS “FROM THE CRIB TO THE PENITENTIARY PIPELINE” PANEL DISCUSSION AND JOB FAIR
SHERIFF LEE BACA FEATURED PANELIST
In an era of racial profiling it’s not surprising to learn that depending upon where you look, evidence exists that third grade reading scores today are used to predict the number of prison beds that will be needed in the future. And, since the privatizing of some prisons in the mid-1980s, U.S. Justice Department figures indicate that the building and maintaining of prisons is the largest and fastest growing industry in this country.
Examining racial profiling and predictions, Great Beginnings for Black Babies’ (GBBB) Fatherhood Initiative will offer a “From the Crib to the Penitentiary Pipeline,” panel discussion and job opportunity fair beginning at 9 a.m., Thursday, April 8, 2010 in the Junior Blind of America facilities, 5300 Angeles Vista Blvd., “We have researched the direct correlation between education, poverty, and prison,” commented GBBB Fatherhood Initiative Project Coordinator Roderick Elzy. “Statistics show that only three of 100 Black males who start kindergarten graduate from college, young Black men without a high school diploma are 60 times more likely to end up behind bars than their college degreed counterparts, and that Black males in their early 30’s are twice as likely to have prison records than bachelor degrees,” he explained.
“The most dangerous place for a child to try to grow up in America is at the intersection of poverty and race,” he said, adding “A Black boy born in 2001 had a one in three chance, and a Latino boy a one in six chance of going to prison in their lifetime.
“While representing only 12 percent of the nation’s population, African Americans comprise more than 50 percent of the country’s prison population,” Elzy said.
Sheriff Lee Baca, chief law enforcement officer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, will lead the “Crib to Penitentiary Pipeline” panel discussion. Commanding the country’s largest Sheriff’s Department with more than 18,000 staff, Sheriff Baca also manages the nation’s largest local jail system housing more than 20,000 inmates. Joining Baca on panel are NAACP Los Angeles branch President Leon Jenkins, civil rights attorney; Aquil Basheer, president of Maximum Force Enterprises and considered one of the nation’s preeminent violence prevention specialists; Kashari Jones, a mental health therapist and founder and president of Women of Worth, a re-entry program for the formally incarcerated; and, Meschellia Smith, a gang intervention specialist for Unity One, Inc., who has developed a “Life Beyond Youth” program under the auspices of her company, Much More Bounce, Inc., dedicated to restoration of young women who have been subjected to domestic violence, mental abuse or incarceration. A job opportunity fair will run concurrently featuring representatives from the Iron Workers Union, U.S. Census Bureau, Certified Forklifters and the South Bay Workforce Investment Board, among others.
Started in 2009 to ensure that fathers have a support system and adequate intervention resources for successful entry or re-entry into the lives of their children, families, and communities, Great Beginnings Fatherhood Initiative seeks to provide effective prevention resources to break the cycle of rampant incarceration amongst men of color. The Fatherhood Initiative is funded by the California Endowment. A nonprofit dedicated to reducing infant mortality by encouraging women to seek early and continuous prenatal care, encourage healthy lifestyles, and promote the healthy development and growth of babies, children, youth and families, Great Beginnings for Black Babies, Inc. was founded in 1990. For additional information on “Crib to Penitentiary” contact Roderick Elzy at (323) 789-7955 or via email a firstname.lastname@example.org.