It is not often that I am in substantial agreement with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane, but I am today. Kane's column today addressed the issue of the disproportionate numbers of blacks in our prisons. I was prepared for the usual pronouncements of racism, profiling, poverty, joblessness etc... as the primary cause, and he offered a bit of that, but mostly he touched on some unfortunate and often overlooked truths.
For example, he noted his visit to the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility, where one of the inmates talked about a younger brother "who actually considered it a badge of honor to have an older sibling in prison."
Kane also noted that "a little time behind bars serves as a strong dose of truth serum for inmates", many of whom declined to offer excuses, knowing full well why they find themselves in jail. In other words, they are in jail because they are guilty of committing criminal acts, not because of profiling, poverty, racism, etc...
There is a serious problem when a sizeable subculture glorifies criminality while looking up to prisoners. It should be no surprise that criminal behavior and prison terms would flow from such a warped world view.
Thankfully, a prominent black columnist in Eugene Kane seems to understand this problem. And that is the critical first step in addressing the problem.