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California PrisonsResearch conducted by the state of California’s Select Committee on Status of Boys and Men of Color presented an action plan Wednesday in the capital city of Sacramento, which aimed to introduce policies to assist young boys and men of color in the state. According to a report drafted by the legislative committee, research and data was compiled over a year and a half that focused on why California’s minority youth were less healthy, testing lower in school, and heading to prison at alarming rates.

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Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, leads the Select Committee and introduced more than 50 pages of policy and recommendations to a bipartisan panel in a hearing held yesterday. The report also highlights 19 bills, eight of which are focused on cutting down on the record number of expulsions and suspension that Swanson and the Committee feel affects students of color disproportionately.

California averages 800,000 such infractions a year, with more than half of the occurrences being non-violent. As much as 36 percent of young Black men without a diploma in the state are more likely to be in prison versus being employed. Forty percent of young Latino men are more likely to end up in prison when compared to their White counterparts.

One of the more harrowing details of the report was a segment that noted that Black kindergartner students are three times more likely to view themselves as scholastic failures when compared to their fellow White students.

Swanson, speaking to media and as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, has apparently seen enough. “It was very interesting – the kids who were there were not the ones who had lost their way, but those who didn’t want the system to push them in a direction where they found themselves in the criminal justice system,” he shared.

Swanson continued with, “If we are already spending $50,000 a year per person in state prison, or $200,000 in the juvenile justice system, it isn’t a question of money – it’s a question of how we prioritize the money we have.”

Yesterday’s hearing was a part of several such meetings held throughout the state over the past 18 months with this sixth and final gathering introducing the recommendations. Among the suggested measures for turning the tides for young people of color, the Committee wants to focus on individual student progress versus school-wide success. Also requested was that the state enroll more young males of color in to its health exchange and Medi-Cal program.


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