Monday, August 30, 2010

New York's Massive Sexual Abuse in Prisons and Low Graduation Rates in High Schools

Last week, the Justice Department released its report on sexual in our nation's prisons and jails. New York State emerged as the state with the most sexual abuse in its prisons and jails. Also, we learned this week that New York is the worst state in graduating its Black males from high school. Shockingly, in NYC, only 28% of Black males graduate from high school. NYC is amongst the worst performing major cities in terms of graduating Black males from high school.

New York State Fails High School

new report by the Schott Foundation teaches us that less than half of all Black males in the US graduate from high school and that New York State and New York City are amongst the worst performers in the country in terms of Black male graduation rates. In New York State, only 25% of Black males graduate, and New York City is only slightly better than the state-wide average with 28%. Our state's 25% graduation rate for black males is the worst of all of the 50 states.

We can predict a lack of success for the Black community in New York State when we see that New York State's Black males are entering adulthood without a high school diploma.

Our failure to graduate Black males from high school in New York State should make us think very seriously about our prisons. A lack of education often leads to criminal behavior, and those without formal educations are most easily incarcerated when they've committed no crime at all.

Unfortunately, our state's poor performance in high school graduation rates is matched by poor quality prisons.

Justice Department Report

The US Department of Justice released a report by its Bureau of Justice Statistics with extensive analysis of sexual abuse in prisons and jails in our country.

The study is based on an anonymous survey of those incarcerated in our country. The findings leave us disappointed and concerned.

More than four percent of those in prison and more than three percent of those in jail have suffered sexual abuse. The rate on inmate-on-inmate abuse was more than twice as high amongst women inmates than amongst men in prisons and jails. Guard-on-inmate sexual abuse is far more common than inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse, and female guards abusing male prisoners is the most common type of sexual abuse in our prisons and jails.

The study suggests that sexual abuse of prisoners tends to begin very early in an inmate's time in prison or in jail and that individuals who have been sexually abused before their incarceration are more likely to abused during the incarceration.

Unfortunately, New York State's prisoners are abused more than any other state's prisoners.

New York Prisons and Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, the sexual abuse problems we see across the country are at their worst in New York State's prisons. The Justice Department report found that three of New York State's prisons and one county jail have high rates of guard-on-prisoner sexual abuse. Having four of the worst facilities in New York State makes New York State the worst in the country for sexual abuse of its incarcerated population.

Nearly seven percent of those incarcerated at Bayview Correctional Facility and Attica Correctional Facility reported being physically forced or threatened into engaging in sexual activity by prison guards. Ten percent of female inmates at Bayview and seven percent of male inmates at the Elmira Correctional facility were forced into performing sex acts by those running the facilities.

New York State's Black Males

This week presented an unflattering snapshot of the state of our state. We live in the worst state in the country for graduating Black males from high school, and we also live in the state that permits the largest amount of widespread abuse of its incarcerated population by those empowered to control our prisons. Both results are unacceptable, and both results show how our public policy approach in New York State leaves Black males at a disadvantage.

We will not be able to be reach our potential as a state until we cease to treat Black males as a disease to be eradicated. Right now, we refuse to offer educational opportunities to Black males in New York State, but we are very effective at sending Black males to prison to be sexual abused by employees of New York State.

Our next Governor must make improving the prospects for our state's Black males our state's top priority.

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