LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Right now in the United States, African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of white people. That’s according to the NAACP.
In hopes of lowering this rate, community leaders came together for a forum today in Lansing.
In 2017, African Americans represented just 12 percent of the U.S. adult population, but 33 percent of sentenced prisoners.
“We also know that African Americans, Hispanics, get longer sentences and more severe sentences, so we have to advocate,” said Dr. Sharon Hobbs.
Hobbs has a PhD in clinical psychology. She says the incarceration rate isn’t only flawed, but so is getting help for people once they leave prison.
“I worked with a man who had gotten a Master’s degree while in prison and when he finally got out, there were really no jobs for him,” said Hobbs. “The profession that he thought he’d be able to participate in didn’t want him and I see that over and over again.”
Delois Whitaker Caldwell is the president of the Lansing Association of Black Social Workers. The group brought the community together today with a goal in mind.
“We’re trying to look at all aspects with the intent of reducing the number of African Americans in particular in the criminal justice system because we know we’re disproportionately represented,” said Caldwell.
These two women hope by initiating the conversation change will come.
“We want to make sure that everybody’s aware of those issues and also what can be done, what the community can do, what families can do,” said Caldwell.
“We have to look at what we do offer, we know it’s not enough, and we need people who are watching to advocate,” said Hobbs.