By Franklyn M. Malone, CEO, The 100 Fathers, Inc.
May 23, 2016
There is much concern in the Washington, D.C. area by community leaders about the lack of options presented to our youth in the area of sustainable community programs! After attending a community meeting in the Mayfair community last week with Charles Eaves of the Ward 7 Drug Free Community, it became clear that in order for our community and our youth to co-exist peacefully there must be many more “Sustainable” community supports in place.
The community to prison pipeline only gives us more incarceration. It has created, over the years, an unsustainable alternative that now has “hundreds (and maybe thousands) of returning citizens” to a city that must be prepared to offer jobs, counselling, fatherhood support groups, flexible and accessible social support services, long-term connection services, family re-building services, housing and character enhancement just to name a some of what is needed.
Youth Advocate magazine estimates that according to the latest statistics on cost per youth in the community, we still spend approximately $240 per youth per day to incarcerate youth and about $75.00 per youth per day to sustain them in the community. This has to change drastically towards sustainability versus incarceration. We must focus on the strengths and interest of our youth and families in the context of our homes, communities and neighborhoods.
What is done in an institution can be done better in the community through those who are dedicated to rebuilding lives and who focus on long term sustainable improvements that are showing promise and success with a strength-based approach, cultural competence and individualized services such as Rites of Passage Programs for boys and girls, Boyhood to Manhood Training Programs and Girlhood to Womanhood Training Programs.
To accomplish a safe and sane community the community leaders must reach out to our City Council and Mayor and ask them to legislate a way through this dilemma with open access to funding for evidence-based, experienced and successful endeavors that create supports and services that are accessible, available and flexible. If we begin to look at where we are headed now, we will find a way to improve on the limited-at-best, resources that require financial support and long-term accountability to the community. This community must face the fact that sustained community enhancement requires three main principles: prevention, intervention and innovation.
We need to dedicate funding to prevent our youth from going into the pipeline to prison. We must fund programs such as teaching our young boys to read well, boyhood to manhood programs, mentoring for success programs, and engagement of parents programs. We must create programs designed to intervene on those problems that require professional services such as drug addiction, violence prevention, gang warfare, and reactionary masculinity syndrome so that we can change the paradigm for our young men of color. Finally we must implement new and exciting out-of- the-box ideas, such as an all boys’ schools dedicated to breaking the pipeline to prison, work to provide more paid D.C. government internships for our youth year round, and require all construction in D.C. to be accountable to our needs while we enforce it vociferously.
We must put people to work. When a man has a job and can support his family he can be an asset to his community. There should never be legislation that pays anyone not to commit a crime, but rather we need legislation to on how we can put folk to work at all levels who can take advantage of a $13 billion dollar D.C. economy.
*Commissioner Franklyn M. Malone is a founding Member of the Mayor’ new DC Commission on Fathers, Men and Boys and the CEO of the 100 Fathers, Inc. Mr Malone is an author, fatherhood expert and award winning community activist, who in 2012 was called personally by President Barack Obama and heralded for his work with fatherhood and mentoring. Malone is the 2015 Cafritz Award Finalist and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at The NVCC. The 100 Fathers, Inc. works closely with 15 other community organizations through the DC Fatherhood Coalition, which sustains families, fathers and children of D.C. through their programs and advocacy.