Perspective on Racial Inequality, as Part of #NCCDconf

Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO)

Geoffrey Golia, GOSO

On Wednesday, October 5th, Geoffrey Golia, our Senior Career Manager and Director of GOSOWorks, engaged with the annual conference of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency via Twitter. Connecting with conference attendees via the hashtag #NCCDconf, Geoffrey shared his experience and perspective on the issue of racial inequality in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Here’s a look at what Geoffrey had to say …

The evidence is clear: Young African-American and Hispanic men are more likely to be stopped, arrested, detained, convicted, and incarcerated than their White counterparts.

This is particularly true if they are young and reside in under-served areas and neighborhoods.

At GOSO, we see this “disproportionality” everyday on Rikers Island and in our community program, where nearly 99% of our clients are young men of color.

But it starts earlier than that, and there is a pattern:

  • The school-to-prison pipeline involves punitive policies that track children (predominantly boys of color) out of school and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
  • Additionally, while juvenile justice policies, including incarceration of youths, is a salient issue that needs to be addressed, New York State compounds this issue by being one of only two states (the other being North Carolina) that prosecutes all youth as adults when they turn 16 years of age.

Right now, there are 16- and 17-year-olds are detained and incarcerated on Rikers Island and in Upstate prisons.

The key here is the intersectionality of various systems that marginalize and criminalize young men of color.

Systemic racism (macro-policies that create, enhance, or sustain the marginalization of non-white communities); Poverty and the way bail is levied against poor people as a kind of poor tax; Economic dislocation and lack of employment opportunities; Broken foster care systems and lack of “good enough” parenting … All work together to create a constellation of deficits that lead ultimately to mass incarceration.

These intersecting systems of oppression and trauma also necessitate prevention and reentry programs that can effectively address all of these challenges. GOSO is that effective reentry program.