“Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears the soul of this nation. I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.” words attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Harry Belafonte
With the mandated closing of the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake “schools”
in Wisconsin and the intense efforts now underway to establish new Type 1 and 2 facilities facilities here in Milwaukee County, we should insure that our “House” is not burning.
On February 27, I went to two events here in Milwaukee to hear the Moving Beyond Youth Prisons: Lessons from New York City’s Implementation of Close to Home - Case Study Release from The Columbia Justice Lab, presented by Vincent Schiraldi and Vidhya Anathakrishnan - Columbia Justice Lab
I heard things like: ‘we need to reimagine how we care for our young people’; ‘just because we did it this way in the past, doesn’t mean we need to keep doing it that way’; ‘we need a paradigm shift’; and ‘we need to change the culture’.
Please consider that we are raising our young people in a Drug War Zone — A Burning House! The prohibition of certain arbitrarily “controlled substances”, which has always been racially motivated, decimates communities of color by design per Richard Nixon’s counsel and Assistant to the President John Erhlichman. Since the 70’s generation after generation of people of color have been disproportionately affected by the lure of profit from the illegal drug market and the violence, crime, abuse, overdose and mass incarceration that accompanies drug prohibition.
The War on Drugs is a total failure and it has its most negative impact on children: one or both parents may be incarcerated which can impact, housing, education, guidance and emotional stability; children who witness, or are victims of, the violence and crime that accompanies the street market for controlled substances are traumatized; children see their parents struggling with addiction and hustling to get their drugs on the street — often with disastrous consequences; the ongoing collateral damage of the War on Drugs perpetuates the cycle; and lastly, children are brainwashed into thinking that The State has a legitimate “right” to control what people put into their bodies rather than being taught that THEY are responsible for what they put into their bodies.
Can you imagine if our “House” was not burning in a Drug War Zone? Should we continue to ignore the collateral damage caused to our children by the failed Drug War? Does doing the same old thing vis-a-vis the Drug War and expecting different results constitute a paradigm shift? Can we restore a culture of freedom and personal responsibility or do we continue to double down on the “Just Say No” culture?