“It’s one of the great social and economic tragedies of our time,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the Urban League. “It points to the signature failure in our education system and how we’ve been raising our children.” The Census Bureau released 2006 data on the social, racial and economic characteristics of people living in adult correctional facilities, college housing and nursing homes. It is the first in-depth look at people living in “group quarters” since the 1980 census. It shows, for example, that nursing homes had much older residents in 2006 than in 1980. The new data has limitations. In addition to not including commuter students, it does not provide racial breakdowns by gender or age, though it does show that males make up 90 percent of prison inmates. Also, most prison inmates are 25 or older while 96 percent of people in college housing are age 18 to 24. The data show that big increases in black and Hispanic inmates occurred since 1980. In 1980, the number of blacks living in college dorms was roughly equal to the number in prison. Among Hispanics, those in college dorms outnumbered those in prison in 1980. WASHINGTON – More than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms, the government said in a report to be released Thursday. The ratio is only slightly better for Hispanics, at 2.7 inmates for every Latino in college housing. Among non-Hispanic whites, more than twice as many live in college housing as in prison or jail. The numbers, driven by men, do not include college students who live off campus. Previously released census data show that black and Hispanic college students – commuters and those in dorms – far outnumber black and Hispanic prison inmates. Nevertheless, civil-rights advocates said it is startling that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live in prison cells than in college dorms. There are a lot of reasons why black students do not reach college at the same rate as whites, said Amy Stuart Wells, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Black students are more likely to attend segregated schools with high concentrations of poverty, less qualified teachers, lower expectations and a less demanding curriculum, she said. “And they are perceived by society as terrible schools, so it is hard to get accepted into college,” Wells said. “Even if you are a high-achieving kid who beats the odds, you are less likely to have access to the kinds of courses that colleges are looking for.” Students who don’t graduate from high school are much more likely to go to prison, said Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. Nearly 40 percent of inmates lack a high school diploma or the equivalent, according to the census data. “The criminal economy is one of the only alternatives in some of these places,” Orfield said. “You basically have the criminalization of a whole community, particularly in some inner cities.” Blacks made up 41 percent of the nation’s 2 million prison and jail inmates in 2006. Non-Hispanic whites made up 37 percent and Hispanics made up 19 percent.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
This past weekend, a Juneau Preparedness Expo gave the public a variety of information on how to cope in an emergency. One lecture more relevant than ever was on mudslides and landslides–just weeks after Sitka’s deadly disaster.Download AudioThe 1936 Juneau landslide killed 15 people. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Library, Historical Collections)Joel Curtis from the National Weather Service told a small but captive audience about the mechanics of a slide.He’s witnessed the damage firsthand. A couple of weeks ago he was on an ordinary business trip in Sitka, where he had been helping out with a diesel spill.“And I get another message. Could you please come to the firehall immediately. One of the things we had talked about in the forecast the day before was some heavy rain combined with some wind,” he said.Curtis rushed to the fire station and that’s when they told him.Joel Curtis called the Sitka landslide an emotional site. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)“‘Joel, we need you to be the incident meteorologist on this. We just had a mudslide and three people are missing.’ It was terribly emotional, at least to me.”The mudslide claimed the lives of three people. An intensive search uncovered the bodies of brothers Elmer and Ulises Diaz, who had been painting a house in the area. It took longer to find the third person: building inspector, William Stortz.For Curtis, that really hit home.“Knowing that this much beloved individual was missing was really, really tough,” he said. “But at the same time you just have to set that aside and go to work and do the things that you do to contribute to the recovery operation.”Curtis helped by monitoring the weather, and Stortz’s body was located before more rain fell.He says there are some differences between the conditions in Sitka and Juneau. For instance, Sitka gets the brunt of oceanic weather. Juneau has taller mountains to the East. But could the same thing happen here?Tom Mattice, the city’s emergency coordinator, said it already has. One of Juneau’s most destructive slides occurred in 1936, covering South Franklin Street and killing 15.Although there’s little anyone can do to prevent it, Mattice said there are steps people can take to protect themselves–like have an evacuation route. Five years ago, Centennial Hall was used as a safe space when a slide hit Gastineau Avenue.“If you live in an area that’s a mass wasting zone, an avalanche zone, a mudslide zone. On days with high wind, on days on high precip, it’s a good idea to go somewhere else,” Mattice said.Joel Curtis agrees. He said since Southeast is a temperate rainforest, landslides are inevitable.“They’re hazards and they’re big and they’re natural and there’s a lot of force in them. I think being prepared is the answer.”Curtis says for him, that’s having an emergency bag packed and being able to evacuate with his dog and cat.