By Shepherd Manson B. Johnson, Holman Street B.C.
HEMPSTEAD -If you don’t know the answer, it is a resounding yes. We need our Black boys to replace us as fathers, community leaders, educators, clergy, sports champions, judges, car dealers/owners, news reporters, attorneys, professionals, dump truck drivers and owners, landscapers, ranchers, role models, land developers, owners, TV/Radio station managers/owners, janitorial cleaners service owners, PTA/PTO members, store managers, and the list goes on and on.
Do you know that 3 out of 5 Black boys in Harris County are picked out by our society to be destined to get their life- education in prison? The right question concerning this bold issue may be: Do Black men care about our young boys who have been picked out to get their life-education in prison? If you do, write down on paper what you have done to show that you care about statistical data that profile our boys into the future of derogatory mind destroying criminal prison systems.
Busy Black men MUST TAKE TIME to spend with our Black boys to show them a better way to obtain a better education within the larger community’s general experience. Black boys do matter and deserve to have a better shot at life than prison. Black boys have less inspiration today to aim high and aspire to achieve high levels of extraordinary lifestyles in our society. The many pressures of city life and competing against poverty to survive call for extraordinary steps to be taken to ensure Black boys make it through the city jungle’s prison traps. Positive alternative mentoring activities can give Black boys exposure to better end result than to be destined for serving time in prison because of teen age crimes.
Neena Satija wrote an article in February 2, 2018 in The Texas Tribune and Reveal entitled: “They’re just setting those babies up for the penitentiary”: “How minor offenses feed overcrowding at Houston youth jail.” She wrote the following:
Across Texas, kids are getting into less trouble with the law even though the state population is exploding. So why is Harris County’s juvenile detention center bursting at the seams?
Just like the rest of the state, Harris County has seen fewer juveniles enter the criminal justice system over the past decade. Yet the population of the 210-cell juvenile detention center, which mostly holds kids between 10 and 16 years old who have not yet been convicted of a crime, has spiked in recent years.
Last year, an average of close to 300 kids stayed there each day, up from just over 160 a few years back. The population spike has forced some youth to sleep in common areas, in portable beds that look like little plastic boats, and last year an average of two dozen kids had to be held in a separate building because the detention center was too full.
Harris County’s juvenile probation chief, Tom Brooks, said the detention center’s overcrowding is mostly due to “a high number of egregious offenders” — kids accused of crimes like armed robbery and assault — who often stay in detention longer… Brooks added that the county has worked hard to stop unnecessarily locking up kids.
But data obtained by The Texas Tribune — along with interviews with experts, parents and advocates — suggest there’s more to the story. Local officials might blame the overcrowding on bad kids, but experts say it’s more about a bad system in Harris County, where local officials plan to build a new juvenile detention center at an estimated cost of $65-70 million.
The data from Harris County’s juvenile probation department shows:
• The average number of kids held in the detention center charged with minor offenses such as trespass, theft and violating probation — things that some experts say shouldn’t land kids behind bars at all — increased by 64 percent from 2010 to 2017. Meanwhile, the average number held for violent crimes like armed robbery and rape, called “felonies against persons,” increased by about 46 percent.
• Minor offenders were locked up in the detention center for an average of nearly three weeks in 2017, twice as long as in 2010.
• From 2010 to 2017, the average number of African-American youth held in the juvenile detention center more than doubled, and the number detained despite being labeled “low risk” has increased by 75 percent.
Experts say this is an unusual trend when it comes to juvenile justice. It’s becoming widely accepted that imprisoning kids — and even adults — for low-level crimes is probably doing more harm than good. Taking someone away from their home and school for a minor offense like shoplifting, and placing them alongside those accused of far more serious crimes, is bad for the child and for society, they say.
“Anytime you disrupt the kids’ routine, you take them out of the home, away from whatever stable influences they have … It’s not a good situation,” Deitch said. Michele Deitch is an attorney and senior lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in Texas juvenile justice policy. She added that the Harris County data suggests “there’s something very punitive going on.”
BLACK BOYS DO MATTER and they need Black men’s help to survive the jungle. We must have Black men to TAKE THE TIME TO GIVE TIME to mentoring closely and frequently the exposure, training and development of young Black boys. Other agencies and other people in our society can also help but Black men’s help is primary. NO ONE CAN RELATE TO A BLACK BOY AS A BLACK MAN CAN. Their life struggles and experiences are mostly the same. A young age is where real success starts. We must engage them in activities that impact their future while they are young. Whatever activities Black men engage Black boys in they must be IMPACTFUL.
Some of “The Tool Box” men of Holman Street Baptist Church in Houston had an impactful weekend Friday, May 24/25 at the RS Deer & Cattle Ranch in Waller, Texas with a fishing trip. We had five (5) very busy businessmen and ten (10) boys ranging from ages 12 to 14 to attend. All of these busy men stayed the duration of the trip. No one left five or six hours early to leave the boys alone on their own. We all stayed until it was over. We did not meet the boys at the ranch. Several of us rode with them together to the ranch. It was bonding experience just to ride with the boys and hear the excitement of their childish chatter. This also helped them to warm up to us sooner as we reached the ranch and unloaded the gear.
We were hosted by Mr. Roy Douglas Malonson, owner of the RS Deer & Cattle Ranch and his ranch hands. Cedrick LaFleur, a prominent Christian millionaire businessman, (CEO & Founder of LaFleur Leadership Institute), started the evening off with a discussion and activity on subjects ranging from integrity, character, goal setting, and mental discipline. Brother LaFleur’s handling of the subject matter to get engagement from all ten of the boys was like a Mozart symphony concert in motion. The boys participated interactively with exceeding great joy. It was IMPACTFUL to the boys! The rest of the night was spent enjoying a special meal personally prepared by Mr. Malonson. His preparation of venison gourmet burgers along with venison boudin stole the night with 100% delight from everyone. The meal was served on his private well-lit deck that cantilevered out over the water of the fishing pond. (Amazingly, not one mosquito bite was experienced while on the ranch during the entire time!!!). The rest of the night was spent over the vintage pool table and playing cards/dominos on a custom-made game table and talking trash into the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday morning’s breakfast was prepared personally by Mr. Malonson. from scratch: egg and venison sausage tacos. Everyone ate more than three! After breakfast, “The Tool Box” man Brother LaFleur wrapped up with his training and development with the boys by administering the DISC personality survey to them. WOW! What a real response. He explained to the boys what each of the letters in the survey meant to them, their character and their future. One of the goals that Brother LaFleur had for this exercise was for each boy to begin to know who he is on the inside. By each boy knowing himself he can govern and control his actions that will keep him on track for becoming who he wants to be in later years. Again, Brother LaFleur was like a maestro of an orchestra conducting a masterpiece. He collected their minds together as one but address their individual needs. The boys were attentive as he explained how each of the DISC letters can help them choose a lifelong careen path for their future.
After we wrapped up and cleaned up the first-class and well-furnished lodge facility it was time for the tour of the RS Deer & Cattle Ranch. Mr. Malonson completed a detailed tour of the spectacularly crafted and specifically engineered RS Deer & Cattle Ranch. Boy, what a treat! The two (2) hours of touring was well worth the trip by itself. We specifically found out so much detailed information about deer ranching three species of deer. The exotic Axis deer and the famous Whitetail deer to name a couple. Riding In a customized RS Deer Ranch people transport trailer, western style with bails of hay to sit on we moved in tractor driven comfort around the ranch and its unique nature trails sites. YOU GOT TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT! AND TAKE SOMEBODY WITH YOU TO BE A WITNESS AND THEY WON’T THINK YOU WERE JUST DREAMING!
After the tour we all were very hungry. Mr. Malonson came through again. He cooked deliciously seasoned fish and chicken along with the trimmings, including desert. This was done in a private outdoor constructed kitchen that he designed next to the fishing deck at the pond. He cooked enough for us to snack on during the rest of our stay.
IT IS FISHING TIME!!!!!! The boys headed joyfully to the huge privately dug and stocked fishing pond. Thanks goes to another brother of “The Tool Box” Brother Ty Davis, Senior Contract Administrator, City of Houston. Another master took to the stage to train the boys how to cast rods and bait hooks. His truck is the one in the picture with all the fishing rods. He can be called an expert fisherman. He does it all the time. He took time with all ten (10) boys individually for 3-5 minutes to show them so smoothly how to cast a rod and how it should be safely executed. The casting classes were successful because the boys caught on to the principles of casting and straightway enjoyed fishing for the rest of the day. THEY CAUGHT SMALL AND GIANT FISH (The pictures included with this article are proof that Mr. Malonson does have fish in his pond!). As you can see, not all of the boys caught fish but all of them rejoiced and bonded around the boys who did make a catch. It was a natural gravitation of how they all came together to support one another. This action was not taught but spontaneously happened the moment a catch was made. Maybe they are attempting to tell us older men something!
Other men that assisted with this lifelong impactful trip were: Reverend M. Bracy Johnson, Vice President of Student Affairs at EastSide University, Reverend Ryan George, Google Recruiting Specialist, Deacon Michael Smith, CEO & Managing Partner of Pine Place Development, LLC, and Manson B. Johnson, Shepherd-Teacher, Holman Street Baptist Church.