MUHAMMAD: Investing in the Criminal 'Just Us' System

Askia Muhammad | 11/26/2013, 2 p.m.
Why aren't there more of "us" involved in efforts to bring about drastic behavior modification among us?
Askia Muhammad

I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory answer from prisoner advocates as to why we don’t do more to modify the behavior of our youth BEFORE they voluntarily commit the acts (mostly against our own people, mind you) which get them locked up.

One prison reformer told me, he asked someone, “Why do you commit crimes in your own neighborhood, against your own people?” The person responded: “Do you know how much it costs to get to Georgetown?” Expensive taxi fare, and/or long bus rides are barriers to hoodlums wanting to get out of the ghetto to commit their mayhem. Which I suppose is why folks (including our own middle class) don’t want to live in and around “us.”

So, why aren’t we upset about this generations-old, anti-social behavior in which we seem to love to wallow? Where is our decency movement to go hand-in-hand with our prison-reform movement?

Never mind the banks and stock brokers investing in the private prison industry. We could put them out of business in a month, if we re-calibrate the moral compasses of our young people from self-destructive “Bad” to self-empowering “Good.” And it wouldn’t take anybody to pull it off except “Just Us.”