Thursday, October 27, 2011

Byron Price: Entrepreneurship is Critical to Solving the Mass Incarceration and Recidivism Problems

byron price 2

by Byron Price – Your Black World 

Dr. Boyce Watkins has asked me to contribute to the book Ryan Mack and he are authoring, which has largely spun out of Ryan’s effort to help the African American community achieve economic empowerment through financial literacy. I applaud what the two of them are proposing as well as Michele Alexander and her efforts to mitigate the impact mass incarceration is having on our community. They all are on the right track, but I am concerned that their efforts will be undermined by the continuous inability of our community to develop industries, which employ the ones they are trying to help.

I think Boyce and Ryan have provided the proper heuristic to help the formerly incarcerated successfully reintegrate. Furthermore, by connecting the incarceration problem to a lack of economic empowerment in our community; Ryan, I think has made the goal more achievable. However, I am concerned that the focus on financial literacy as well as the forthcoming book will not go far enough in respect to helping them achieve their mission of providing a road map to help the formerly incarcerated live an independent life post incarceration.

Entrepreneurship in my humble opinion is the only viable course of action for the “Never Going Back” effort. Here is why. Although Ryan correctly diagnoses our problem and prescribes financial literacy to address the problem, having a better understanding of finances will not bring about better employment prospects. In many respects they are being taught how to invest and spend their money in someone else’s community and with someone else’s business. I suggest that three regional business incubators with a national focus be developed and they serve as a conduit to foster economy entrepreneurship in our community. The incubators should be connected to a viable Historically Black College and University if possible and the primary goal of the incubators is to help the African American community develop viable businesses. Furthermore, the incubators should focus on creating manufacturing jobs in the short-term, which provide a livable wage and does not require a college education, but a viable skill. The “green economy” Van Jones and President Obama are high on is an industry which comes to mind in regards to a short-term solution which could address the employment crisis in our community.

Moreover, the incubators should pursue seed money under the Second Chance Act and a government loan from the funds provided to Solyndra, the energy company President Obama supported which went under and costs the taxpayers a half billion dollars as a result of filing bankruptcy. This essay is a starter essay and I will follow-up with more essays that are not as half-baked, but I wanted to attempt to frame this discussion so that entrepreneurship is foremost as we build on this discussion.

8 comments:

Abigail said...

The emphasis should and does always start with: education, education, education. Nice to have money to spend, but in order to be an entrepreneur you need your head filled. Educate your children!! Let them get a high school degree. That is the basis for it all. The basis. And to have people copy one's own life choice or field of interest in academia does not really help. People should be educated and taught to respect themselves and thereby others.

Johnny J said...

I agree with Abigail but I will take it a step backward if the household that the child come from don't have the education and he or she goes back home trying to cope with a dad or mom who do not care about the child learning or changing their life style at home, that where the problem start. If we can help the home with that problem ,I think our job would be a lot easier.

Abigail said...

@Johnny J. There are numerous organizations and black ones as well who do just that. And there are numerous people individuals as well as whole groups (although the latter very rare depending on a teacher or someone else who thought and acted outside the box but with love white people included BTW). It certainly is not easy. And sometimes parents are in the way. Sometimes it is red tape. But to say: I come from a dysfunctional home: yes, that is a large impediment which weighs emotionally on the children involved and often enough they fall victim to pressure of gangsters in a hood or just want to belong for the same reason. But why not get an education in order to get out instead of being forced to kill in order to belong to a gang? No one, no one on this planet gets a free lunch even though you may have had a different surroundings. Believe me. Ask the girls in Cambodia and Thailand who are tortured if they resist being prostituted often sold into brothels by their own parents...And I do not want to mitigate anybody's pain by the way.

Abigail said...

I am sorry. Read: diminish instead of mitigate. I need to go to sleep earlier. But I did appropriately cringe first (whilst bursting into laughter) before I corrected myself here.

Abigail said...

Also: not everybody wants or should be or could be an entrepreneur. That implies also that entrepreneurship a.k.a. a means to get wealthy is or should be the only way to go. That is ridiculous and denying the many talents and freedom of choice of people. As if only if one is a businessman or businesswoman (s)he is somebody worthwhile to him or herself and/or the community at large. That type of thinking is a disease of these time in which only business and going for the top dollar seems to be the way destroying the world. Go have a healthy chat in Zucotti Park. If you do you will see masses of a.o. black people participating. They do not need to be egged on. They think for themselves and are very articulate also in discussions. And why not. Do not treat people including black people as dumb puppets who need to be led as sheep. (Who also are quite intelligent but that is another matter).
Another thing; get yourselves a copy of the very insightful “Inside Job”. The ugly truth behind the 2008 financial crisis.

“Inside Job” is a Oscar nominated documentary. It is out on DVD and cheap to buy.

Cecil said...

Is there any way we could use this as a model for helping Black Americans:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Native_Regional_Corporations

Negro corporations, anyone?

Abigail said...

Occupy Wall Street is requesting members of the Black, Latino and Asian communities to come out in larger numbers.

Please, watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=TpMlAdCWVQs

Anonymous said...

Opening up your own business is a great idea. But there is a couple of questions to consider for persons who have been in the prison system.....Where will they get the capital to invest in the business, i.e., business expenses, accounting materials, dealing with the IRS for tax purposes, etc.? Examine the financial capital that an individual has when released from prison....and it is probably close to $0.
Now there is no doubt that a person can achieve anything that they set out to do.
Questions that I would propose? Can they get a SBA loan?
Will the financial institutions loan them $$?
If they owe the government money for child support, these things will have to be considered?
As an educator, I would propose job training courses, i.e., computer techs, engineering techs, health care, etc., or on the job training, if the prospective employer hires.