The 'Sentencing Project' found that 1 out of 3 Black men born today are expected to go to prison. It's a cradle to prison pipeline for young Black men. And, the majority of black men will be released from prison into the community unskilled, undereducated, and highly likely to become re-involved in criminal activity. Nearly two-thirds of black men released from prison are expected to be rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of their release. Such high recidivism rates translate into thousands of new victimizations each year. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said 90% of the violent crimes are committed by young black men. With so many ex-offenders returning to prison, it is clear that the punitive, incarceration-based approach to crime prevention is not working. "We have to save ourselves," Rev. Al Sharpton said. In that spirit of self-reliance, Sharpton went on to support the creation of the 'Second Chance Committee'. I am chairman of the 'Second Chance Committee'.
The Second Chance Committee's mission is to provide 'Life Skill Workshops' to formerly incarcerated black men and women to help them make a positive re-entry back into our community. The goal of the 'Life Skill Workshops' is to educate and change the negative influence of the prison system on the minds of primarily young black men. For example, our workshop focuses on a Civil Rights perspective. It gives young black men pride to stand tall after learning the history of the Civil Rights Struggle from Rev. Sharpton and other Civil Rights leaders. The 'Education' workshops help young black men finish school and go on to higher education. The more education received, the less likely an individual is to be re-arrested or re-imprisoned. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, inmates with at least two years of college education have a 10% re-arrest rate, compared to a national re-arrest rate of approximately 60%.
Unfortunately, many young black men return to our community from prison educated to be better criminals. This dead-end policy must be changed. Education can afford formerly incarcerated black men with the opportunity to achieve and maintain a productive and crime free life. The Second Chance life skills workshops can provide a critical service to New York City by providing a 'cost effective' program that reduce unnecessary reliance on incarceration, reduce recidivism and promotes public safety. Let's give young black men and women a second chance and assist them to change their behaviors and lead law abiding lives.
Dennis Levy is a formerly incarcerated black man who is Chairman of Rev. Al Sharpton's Second Chance Committee. He is also the Executive Director of the 'Black And Latino AIDS Coalition', Inc. who has written for the Amsterdam Newspaper and the Beacon Newspaper. . Levy lives in Manhattan with his son. For more information: E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.