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Council to Reduce Black Inmate Population

February 24th, 2009 by flanews

One out of every five Floridians is African American, but blacks make up about half of the states prison population. A coalition of lawmakers, department heads, and civil rights activists are looking for ways to keep black men out prison. As Whitney Ray tells us, the group wants to increase the high school graduation rate and reach black teens before they end up in state prisons.

Hear it Here: Council to Reduce Black Inmate Population

Michael is a 19 year-old who asked us to conceal his identity. Hes been in and out of jails and detention centers since he was 12. Last month he was shot.

I didnt really have nobody at home, nobody I could just chill with at home, thats why I ran the streets and what not, Michael said.

Michael is just one of thousands of black men the state is trying to keep out of the system. The Attorney Generals Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys wants to change the gang culture enticing young black men.

Many see it as a way of life. This is there opportunity to go out and find money and find wealth through illegal means, said Emery Gainey, the AGs Director of Law Enforcement Relations.

The group released a report highlighting the high arrest and death rates facing black men in Florida. Graduation rates are also an obstacle for the group. According to the report for every black teen who graduates high school on time, another one doesnt.

Floridas Secretary of Juvenile Justice Frank Peterman wants to improve education programs in the states detentions centers.

If we can get to them now and begin to change some of their patterns, change some of their thought patterns and carve a new groove in their brain there and say this is really the way you ought to be doing things, said Peterman.

The state council wants to set up branches in all 67 Florida counties. The branches would focus on educating communities about the problems facing black youth and provide mentoring services for kids struggling in school.

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