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THE URBAN DISCIPLES INITIATIVE

 THE PROCESS OF CRIMINALIZATION

          

                     THE PROCESS OF CRIMINALIZATION (How it all went down!)

 Growing up in one of Connecticut’s urban cities we have all witnessed the effect of President Regan’s War on Drugs. From the vantage point of the inner city it seemed more of a war on people than on drugs itself. Marijuana became a very centralized part of socialization. Media began to reinforce our social dependency on this substance. Companies like Phillies Blunt began to be promoted as part of the culture; it was sung about in the songs and became a new form of paraphernalia. It (marijuana) was abundant and could be found very easily. Almost everybody was smoking...

 

     There where sieges on all of the shipments coming in through Florida, New York, Boston. and the other access ports of the country. “Weed” was no where to be found. Not long after, another drug could be found in the very same places where we all went to buy weed. The impression was given that this was the drug of choice by the opulent and the sophisticated. Not wanting to appear “unlearned”, many began to innocently venture into the unknown. We learned that it should be snorted, but we were used to the affect smoking had on us. Many pretended to enjoy the new substance. Soon through experimentation it was learned to smoke this stuff in cigarettes, and then when marijuana resurfaced it was mixed in blunts. After this, there was something called “freebasing”, this was done through a process called “cooking up”. The new substance was brought back to a more pure form and then smoked independently. A new market was developed, many of us who were influenced by the customs of poverty; found this as a means of capitalism. To control the market gangs were formed, and in due course violence ensued. It moved so fast and so smoothly it seemed almost intentional. Almost like the allegorical Willie Lynch “The Making Of A Slave

 

       Cocaine was isolated by a German scientist in 1860 named Albert Neiman. It was heralded as a wonder drug. It was used as a cure all in tonics, and many doctors and scientist promoted it. By the 1920s it coined a phrase “dope fiend”; it was outlawed by the government and deemed unacceptable to general society. This labeling helped many people distance themselves from their dependency on the compound. Cocaine abuse did not go away, it just did what many parasites do when exposed, it dug deeper, and it went underground. Through the liberation and freedom movements of the 1960s a new culture was unearthed; Drug Culture.

     Through the seventies up until eighties this culture became very pervasive. Incidentally, simultaneously and distinctly another culture was being formed; Hip Hop Culture. The influence of Hip Hop, although still in her early pubescence, was still influential. It became the voice of disenfranchised youth who otherwise went unheard. What began as an art form, evolved into a cry out against social injustice, and a rally for unity; later began to form a new and distinctive culture, complete with its own code of ethics, language, style of dress, etc.  Hip Hop by 1980 was about seven to nine years old. Using personification, Hip Hop was like most seven year olds, all she wanted was to have fun.  By 1985 Hip wanted to be understood. She wanted to be heard, her voice was the music. It changed from fun songs to more political and conscious songs. Not many people took her serious. There was an ancient pedophile called Drug Culture who was too willing to give her the needed attention; and seduced her.

     In her early innocence, Hip Hop became overwhelmed by drug culture and seduced into a courtship that has rocked our nation with illegitimate offspring; Drug Addiction, Homicide, and Recidivism to name a few.

    In 1980, there were less than 500,000 people imprisoned in the nation’s prisons and jails.  Today we have over two million and the numbers continue to rise.  Between 1980 and 1999, the total number of incarcerated males increased 303 percent whereas that number increased 576 percent for females. The incarceration for women American Society of Criminology 

      At current levels of incarceration newborn urban males in this country have a greater than a 1 in 6 chance of going to prison during their lifetimes. U.S. Department of Justice estimate 106,000 children in juvenile facilities (public and private).Census Bureau & U.S. Department of Justice

     Of over two million persons incarcerated in the U.S 63% is Black or Hispanic. American Correctional counts indicate that 75% of the incarcerated will return.

      We are spending over $35 billion annually on corrections while many other government services for education, health and human services and public transportation are hard pressed to meet the need for such services. The vast majority of cases referred to the juvenile court do not result in incarceration: 43 percent are never formally charged, and two-fifths of those who are charged have their cases dropped or sign an informal probation agreement rather than go to trial. Roughly, one-third of cases that do result in a court finding of delinquency (i.e., a conviction), result in more than two-thirds of probation, release, or alternative sanction. Only 11 percent result in placement into corrections or to a group home or residential treatment center. However, the majority of all juvenile justice funding goes to confining and treating these 11 percent, while far less is available for community based services to address the remaining 89 percent of offenders before their delinquency escalates. American Society of Criminology

      Although there are pilot programs and other longer lasting and more proved systems that have documented success there is little or no real governmental attempts at alleviating the immediate problem. The structure of our economy, the paradigm between the power elite and the lower classes, and the designation of who controls oil, business, and media really makes a person wonder if criminalization is a purposeful event to keep a certain order to things. To certain individuals this fuels what some have labeled Black Paranoia.

      To the casual observer the affects of Hip Hop culture are racial; to the contrary this culture has transcended ethnic and national boundaries. “It can be found as far as the Ukraine, and has even infiltrated the Great Wall of China. The cavalier spectator will also conclude that Hip Hop is also “the problem”, when actually it is just the medium. The imminent potential here is drug culture’s affects on this medium, and its influence on the subjects introduced…  Close to 80 percent of all hip-hop records are purchased by white, mainly male, youth, according to music industry statistics.  Now what Correction Officers in county jails are experiencing is a trend of young white male/ adolescent offenders.  So then at a closer observation we see that these affects are more to do with stratification and institutional racism rather than simple race specific. It does seem there is a systematic indoctrination of urban youth, targeting the poor to lower middle classes.

     Both arrest data and self-report surveys reveal that crime rates peak during adolescence and young adulthood. The arrest rate for serious violent crimes rises rapidly during the adolescent years, peak at age 18, and drops rapidly thereafter. Drug induced forms of rap music are very popular among youth…

 

    World News Tonight's Peter Jennings labeled the teenage perpetrators of crime "The Young and the Ruthless" as he reported the grim statistics on the escalation in violent teenage crime. (World News Tonight, 1994)

           America's youth violence rates eclipse those of other democracies: America's firearms-related homicide death rate for children under age 15 is nearly 16 times the combined rate of 25 other industrialized countries.

           The youth population is growing. America's juvenile population has grown significantly over the past several years, rising from 13.3 million in1990 to 14.8 million in 1995 to 15.7 million in 2000.  

Legislators, parents, schools, and even correctional & police agencies are at a lost at what to do about this new breed of youth. Some even in despair have deemed them generation "X" symbolizing the unknown. There is talk about boot camps, stiffer sentences, and even legalization… The problem lies in the fact that these social structures are at a lost on how to communicate to this culture, they don't speak the language, and there is a need for mediation. In Hip Hop the drug epidemic found the perfect tool and medium to inject it’s infection into the blood stream of Urban America.  There definitely need to be outreach from those within the culture informing others for the potential for change. There also needs to be levels of mentorship. Peer-Mentorship. For those who have definitive substance abuse issues, these need to be addressed on multi-tiered programs that take into account the physiological, sociological, mental, and spiritual aspects of the person; utilizing these toward positive behavior modification.

 

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