Washington, DC - November 2, 2009
CROSS ROADS radio program, airing on WPFW-FM 89.3, tonight, Monday, November 2, 2009, 7pm - 8 pm EST, we will have an open mike to President Barack Obama. This is your chance to speak directly to the President and the White House staff. Call in and express your concerns on this crisis that has disproportionately devastated the formerly incarcerated. Wall Street and Main Street received funds from the Stimulus. We're from the side street and back street. What about us? WHERE IS OUR STIMULUS ???
|The national unemployment rate stands at over 9% and the unemployment rate for DC residents is over 11%, higher than the national rate. DC has the highest unemployment rate of any city in the Nation. The unemployment rate for persons with felony records or criminal convictions is a whopping 75%. 7 out of every 10 black males with a felony record or criminal convictions is unemployed.
Each month more than 50,000 formerly incarcerated men and women are released back into the community, which translates into 600,000 yearly. Coupled with the devastating down turn in the economy, 20 states have and are cutting their budgets for corrections, closing prisons and laying off staff and exploring ways to reduce their prison populations, which will add to the 50,000 monthly releases. Homeless shelters are bursting at the seams, nursing homes are becoming a back up alternative for the homeless, the DC government has cut and reduced the budget for the homeless by 30%, and closed down two shelters for families. DC has more than 60,000 people living in the city with felony records or criminal convictions. The majorities have wives and children and are not able to neither support nor provide the basic necessities of life. A large percentage of people living in shelters are the formerly incarcerated. Why? They are not hired and first to be passed over for employment and the first to be fired when their criminal history has been checked, irregardless of the length of their employment or successful work record. They've paid their debt to society and society is reciprocating with discriminatory interests (criminal records prevent one from being hired, leasing an apartment, getting student loans, living in public housing, and denied certain federal benefits.)
Wall Street and Main Street have been bailed out; folk from the back street and side street have been knocked out. They've been given funds from the stimulus, but what about us? We've been hit with the tsunami of economic employment isolation. The American Dream has become the Katrina Nightmare; no homes, no hope, all the levees for the safety net have been crushed by tidal waves of unemployment, discrimination, and apathy. This is similar to the scenes when the world watched the citizens of New Orleans in utter desperation and lacking basic services and support. The formerly incarcerated are the New Katrina and Tsunami refugees of America.
On my last radio broadcast, people called in from several states reporting on the devastation of the unemployment crisis affecting the formerly incarcerated. The Super Bowl is the biggest game of a player's life and being released from a correctional institution is tantamount to our Super Bowl; it's a chance to re-enter society and make a positive contribution. Now our Super Bowl is a federal disaster. We've been hit with paralyzing and life threatening levels of unemployment. We are in the last of the 4th quarter, with 10 seconds on the clock, the ball is on the 50 yard line, with no time outs and its 4th down and 50 yards to go, all the lights are out in the stadium, it's raining with a freezing wind blowing, the football is laying flat on the ground with no air in it. You have to throw a touchdown with your arm broken, and both legs have been cut off at the knees. What do you do? Crime has been going down all across the country, while unemployment has been going up. This trend will reverse itself and affect national security and public safety. There are two types of crime - need and greed. This unemployment of the formerly incarcerated needs to be addressed immediately. How long can you go without a job or home or food for your kids when all the safety levees have been discriminatorily eliminated?
President Obama, we need a White House Council on the formerly incarcerated to address this disaster and related concerns (unemployment-economic development-re-entry- housing-collateral consequences etc). When a disaster has been declared, the President has authority to commit federal resources. This is a national disaster and will affect and impact all Americans. National security and public safety will be seriously impacted, if not addressed.
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