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HomeEducationCDF: Break the 'cradle to prison' pipeline

CDF: Break the ‘cradle to prison’ pipeline

Interest Group Meets with Children’s Defense Fund Staffers. See meeting as a call to end adult hypocrisy, neglect and abandonment of children and America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline Crisis.

CLarksville citizens meet with CDF organizers Lisa McCloud and Elandria Williams

A lively group discussion among Clarksville citizens marked a meeting with organizational training representatives of the Children’s Defense Fund. Lissa McCloud, CDF Tennessee Organizing Director, led the gathering. She and Elandria Williams of the Highlander Research and Education Center are crossing the state to meet with local groups. Their mission: to gauge communities’ perception of and desire to address the glaring disparity in minority male youth who fail to complete high school and are subsequently being fed into the prison and judicial system.

At the CDF’s request, Human Resource Center Director Terry McMoore coordinated this first meeting. Among those attending were Odester Watson, Derrick Murphy, JoAnn Lochs, April Smith-Moore, Kenneth Albritton and his son, Amir, Pastor and Mrs. Timothy Grant, Jim Roberts, Sarah King, City Councilman Marc Harris, Ivin Roberts, Attorney Muriel Neal, Attorney Pat Mock, Freida and Donald O’Neal and Wanda and Terry McMoore, along with this writer.

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The meeting focused on systemic deficiencies that result in the prevalence of minority male youth being routed into the prison system. Copies of the CDF’s Summary Report, “America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline” were provided for the attendees. This report notes that:

“In America- a child is abused or neglected every 36 seconds, more than 880,000 children a year; a child is born into poverty every 36 seconds, a baby is born without health insurance every 41 seconds; 90 percent of the more nine million uninsured children live in working families; a child or teen is killed by a firearm about every three hours–almost eight a day; every minute a baby is born to a teen mother; every two minutes a baby is born at low birth weight; every day 77 babies die before their first birthday; every day 192 children are arrested for violent crimes; every day 383 children are arrested for drug abuse; every day 2,261 high school students drop out; every day 4.302 children are arrested; every day 17,132 public school students are suspended.

Kenneth chats with Pastor Timothy GrantA diverse group of professionals, concerned parents, social service advocates, legal services, clergy and concerned private citizens gathered on Friday evening for the presentation. Ms McCloud explained that CDF personnel travel around the state, meeting with locals to gauge local awareness of the disparity of minority male youth that routes them into the judicial/prison system in alarming rates. (At right Kenneth Albritton talks with Pastor Timothy Grant as JoAnn Lochs looks on.)

Each community has its own manifestation of this paradigm or model. Common elements include poor performance in school, often starting at the elementary level. Also indicated was a strong predilection by medical and school personnel for medicating pre-pubescent children. Students who are not performing at par by the fourth grade are statistically forecast to fail school and become entangled in the prison/judicial system malaise.

Lissa McLeod chats with Ivin RobertsA lack of familial support, encouragement and parenting skills were also seen as contributing to this downward spiral. However, it was noted that even with strong positive, supportive family structure and motivation, minority male youth face systemic pressures that derail their forward progression in the education system. School systems seem overtly eager to place minority males on ADHA mind-altering medication at very early stages of their educational process, often even in pre-school or elementary school.

Additionally, economic success of the parental authority was also cited as a strong factor in deterring young males from failing in schools and being drawn into undesirable, negative activities such as drug abuse, gangs or crime. To see the full report, download a PDF copy or order a printed version, interested parties are urged to visit: www.childrensdefensefund.org.

The greater community is invited to join in this effort to re-direct minority youth into the mainstream of society as positive, productive participants. The solution to this crisis can be found as a community-wide effort, irrespective of ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, age, connection or non-connection with the judicial/legal system or even immigration status. The next meeting will be held Thursday, May 22, at Outreach Deliverance Temple, 851 Garretsburg Drive, with Ms Elandria Williams as organizational trainer facilitator. Ms. Williams is a youth and community organizer from the Highlander Research and Education Center, an organization which has trained major civil and social rights leaders for the past 75 years. < www.highlandercenter.org>

Elandria Williams chats with Wanda McMoore

April Smith Moore chats with Terry McMoore


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