By pologod[quote style=”boxed” ]Filmmaker Rahiem Shabazz addresses the issue of children in urban communities being deliberately ushered from school detention to adult corrections in his latest documentary[/quote]
Within the past decade, civil and human rights activists have all but waved the white flag when it comes to developing a solution to lessening the prison population in the United States, which currently has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In the midst of this sociopolitical discussion is an educational shortcoming where schools are looking toward law enforcement to handle behavioral problems with underage students, creating the future generation of inmates that never received an equal opportunity to the American dream and have been forced to live the American nightmare.
Atlanta based filmmaker Rahiem Shabazz took a moment to speak with TheSource.com about his forthcoming shock doc, Elementary Genocide, which magnifies the various causes and possible solutions of this lethal problem facing the Black and Brown community. The documentary is set to premiere this weekend in Atlanta for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
What was the catalyst that sparked this documentary?
RS: I grew up in the unruly streets of Harlem and as a result of my ignorance I ended up on the wrong side of the law. While in prison, I went to college where I graduated in the top 5% of my class. I actually graduated 8 days before my release. It was through education that I was able to see a new definition of life and it showed me that the unimaginable can become reality.
Today, 85% of all juveniles who come into contact with the court system are functionally illiterate and when we look at adults that number is 60%. Inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% for who who receive no help.
The school to prison pipeline is a timely topic and if its not addressed immediately, we’ll face serious consequences. Those who are building prison cells use education as a criteria to determine how many prison beds are needed in the next 10 to 15 years. We going to end this prison for profit scheme and this documentary is just the first step.
What role does American legislation play in the school to prison pipeline?
RS: The rigid mandatory sentencing laws, truth in sentencing laws, 3 strike law and the draconian drug laws are largely to blame for the growth in incarceration of non-violent offenders, who make up over half of all prisoners. These laws disproportionately affect people pf color and the rapidly growing population of women being sent to prison. These laws are passed by legislative body we elect in office. But, more importantly these laws were pushed by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who have an invested interest in prison for profit. Over 1,800 state legislators belong to ALEC and more than 220 corporations pledge membership and give funding. Those who profit from prison or help in passing laws for private prison are culpable of pervasive, systemic and unremitting greed, by imprisoning the most vulnerable members of our society, the youth.
What were some of the revelations that shocked you while making this film?
RS: While doing research for the documentary, I came across a quote from the President of Correction Corporation of America (CCA), where he told a room full of investors, “If we build it, they will come.”
I also learned, the 3rd grade standardized test scores were produced by No Child Left Behind legislation. Let’s be clear, the curriculum centered on this legislation in no way prepares our children for real life experiences. Yet they are able to determine from the 3rd and 4th grade failure rate whether you are likely to go to prison or not.
Then there is the letter CCA (Correction Corporation of America), which was sent to 48 governors offering to purchase their prisons in exchange for a guaranteed occupancy rate of 90 percent. How can you guarantee that your prisons will remain at 90%, unless you start locking people up arbitrarily. The few states who entered into this contractual agreement were fined when they could not maintain the occupancy rate.
What do you see as the solution to the racial disparity of Black youth, particularly Black males in America’s prison population?
RS: In order to render a solution to this pressing problem we must focus on the youth before they get to prison. We got to start before the first day a child steps foot in a Kindergarten class. Education must be of paramount concern in every household, parents need to be actively involved in PTA meetings and become school board members.
Frederick Douglass, once said, “its easier to build strong children, then it is to repair broken men”. So I say, let’s start with the young and break this cycle.
What will be the future of the next generation if this problem isn’t corrected?
RS: There will be no future. It will be a total annihilation of the Black and Brown male if the current incarceration rate continues and there are those who suffer from genetic annihilation that want to see that happen.
Is the School to Prison Pipeline being addressed by the our President?
RS: Recently, President Obama made an announcement saying he’ll take aim at cutting the racial disparity in school discipline and to help close the school to prison pipeline. All Obama did was write a letter of recommendations. However, the recommendations are nonbinding. On the surface, it looks like things are being done, but its not. We got to protest, get in the streets and raise hell. If not nothing will be done and our children will continue to suffer.
-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)
Source: Main Stream News