Saturday, May 05, 2007

Plan to Rebuild New Orleans

Passage 4: " Convict Workforce. Hire ex-cons who no one else will hire and have them fix up Black communities in return for food, shelter, clothing, recommendation letters, and help finding another job. Employ them as security guards and construction and maintenance workers. Make it so that those who want to change can find rewarding work that can help our communities. "

The above passage is taken from a post by a very talented and bright blogger called Bronze Trinity. The name of this post is 17 action plans to help the african diaspor.

This Post written by Bronze Trinity is made up of passages/ideas on what we can do to help black folks the world over. Anyway after reading the forth item of this post it got me thinking on some thoughts I have been chewing on in my mind for a while now.

My thinking on this is, why allow black men to sit in prison for non violent crimes especially when they will eventually be released with no skills and even less job oppurtunities do to the fact that it is harder for convicted felons to get and keep employment. Thier are thousands of black men sitting in prison who are non violent offenders in jail for things such as

1)Bieng caught with or smoking weed in public,
2)Non voilent crack possession
3)Parole or probation violations sometimes all over misunderstandings.
4)Thousands of people in jail for bieng in the wrong place at the wrong time.
5) Some folks just in jail for crimes they didnt committ, in fact over 200 men have been exonerated by DNA or other evidence.
6) And lots of other frivolous reasons.

Instead of having hundreds of thousands of these young black non violent offenders sit in jail where they are at an extreme risk of contracting Hiv why not create a Carpentary and Home Repair Corps to be sent to rebuild New Orleans and other hurricane damaged areas.

This service would be free to residents of New Orleans hurt by hurricane Katrina who would qualify depening on how much money they make. Off hand I would imagine the Corp would consist of non violent offenders and disadvantaged youth from all around black america. They would be housed in central locations to be split up into groups of 200 hundred to be managed by the needed staff in specific devestated areas. Each corp would have its own staff and whatever logistics and supplies needed.

Folks in New Orleans hurt by Katrina could get assistance from these Carpentry Corps. These Corps could also be utilized to help in the in areas other than New Orleans for things such as the rebuilding of the Leeves, factories, warehouses ect.

If a project like this could be managed efficiently and responsibly this project could turn into a win win situation for all concerned parties in america. America would get its most Unique richest city rebuilt, African Americns in New Orleans would get empowering amounts of assistance in home building and other life rebuilding areas. The young men who would make up the corp would get valuble job training and expirence they would also learn how to live and work in harmony with other folks.

Also the Corp workers should be paid a salary to be held in a bank account to be saved and given to each corp member upon completion/graduation of the project. Hopefully after this project they will have been taught enough so that these thousands of young men are able to aquire the business and carpentry skills to empower them to create thier own vehicles for success.

Perhaps the program would break down into 3 days a week of work site(carpentry) training and 2 days a week of class room and highschool graduation training. Included in this program would be mentorship, job etiqette and intierview training, tutoring, ect.
This project would be designed to mentor, tutor, teach carpentry and home repair, painting, Landscaping, ect to the young men with the goal of making them self sufficient. It would also be designed to teach as many of the youth willing to work hard and smarter and demonstraing an ability to lead some administrative skills, leadership and technical skills.

The way to get this project moving is to make contact with and learn from these guys for we should not reinvent any wheels in this process thier are already highly qualified and passionate orginizations and individuals working on the issues this project hopes to adress. Thier are also people and groups who run programs like this one, for the population we will be working with who have had tremondous sucess. We should find out who they are, what they did and what made thier programs successful take some of those theories and add them to creative our own Carpenty and home repair Corps.

I guesse another way of looking at this would be to imagine a group of like minded, passionate folks who are qualified and motivated to work on this issue pointing thier intellect, time and resources in the direction of reforming young black men to love themselves while focusing on empoweing them and teaching them the skills to earn a living in society.

Here are areas we could explore for potential resources.

1) Americorps Grants
2) The clinton foundation and gates foundation
3) Summer youth workers to work in New Orleans.
4) Volunteers and interns especially with social science and community service majors. Interns from President clintons school of public service would be a great place to start.
5) Volunteer Carpenters and Contractors to teach and train the young men in carpentry.
6) Job Corp members from all over the country ( In fact this could be a hearty supply of labor for a mission rebuilding New Orleans )
7)Arch Programs which train urban youth in skills of carpentry and landscaping.
8) Resources and assistance from habitat for humanity.
9) Perhaps we could apply to the top ten construction companies in the world for grant money to rebuild New Orleans.

It will be important for us to come up with a general budget for this program as well as identify where the money for this program will come from. Im sure we can get funding from some non profit and goverment sources especially those charged with working with the young men we would be working with and those charged with or engaged in the rebuilding effort of New Orleans and the Gulf coast.

Lastly thier are also a large # of ex-offenders who are having ruff time getting employment who could benifit from this project as well and also some of the principles and strategies for these projects can be used on locally in the communities these young men are from.
Of course to bring this into bieng it would take ideas I have not even thought of yet, so I look forwad to any suggestion folks may have and will even include them in further revisions of this post.


Bronzetrinity said...

Mark Bey I love your idea of a Carpentry Home Repair Corps for New Orleans. If someone commits a minor crime they have the option of going to jail or going to New Orleans to help out. They do it with drug treatment and the army so why not for this? Its like public service. What better way is there to make use of able bodies people no one wants to hire than to give them a second chance and fix up Black communities at the same time! They would also learn job skills! I like the idea of education being part of the sentence and saving up money for them. There could even be help getting them scholarships and making sure they have a job somewhere in the country after they finish. Maybe that would help get some people out of a bad environment. Then this program could be used in any other disaster situation. Of course it would depend on the person's crime. I LOVE this idea! Organizations working in New Orleans and need to be told because maybe once they know they might do all the work to make it happen because they have so much experience already. Fantastic thinking here!

mark said...

Thank you Bronze I plan on posting more on this subject as well as following up on it. Their are already forces out thire trying to help both the hurricane victims and young disadvantaged and incarcerated youth.

I like to think of what wed be doing as gathering, focusing and then using skills and resources of dynamic and qualified groups to make to aim our collective will at problems affecting large amounts of our people.

Thank you Bronze for your energy and your support.

credo said...

Mark Bey:

I think you are on to something. It may have to start off with a small pilot program. But I think if you draft your proposal and get some feedback from the Afrosphear, I think you will have a model for other communities.

I would suggest you contact Wynton Marsalis on ongoing project in his beloved New Orleans. And to solicit help from him for your proposals. You have great sources for possible funding. If not they may lead to other funding sources.

USA Freedom Corps.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development.

G-_itch is a blogger from New Orlean I would contact her online.

mark said...

"I would suggest you contact Wynton Marsalis on ongoing project in his beloved New Orleans. And to solicit help from him for your proposals. You have great sources for possible funding. If not they may lead to other funding sources."

mark bey: Thanks Credo I had though about this very idea when I saw him on Charlie Rose talking about this.

He looked extremely dispointed over the goverment and the mayors (nagin) leadership on this issue. Anyway I will add this very idea to my next update on this subject.

I would like to polish up this idea and talk to some experts on dealing with youth reform who have had success with the hard to reach people. Thank you for stopping by Credo.

Bronzetrinity said...

Know what the real pisser is? There were other countries offering aid that the US rejected an and if they had taken the aid this might not have been necessary at all. I wonder if there is a way to still get the money? Maybe (probably) there are people, wealthy people who didn't want it rebuilt so that they could have their land. The whole thing is an embarrassment considering how much effort was put into an unjust war instead of helping tax-paying American citizens.

mark said...

I wonder if there is a way to still get the money?"

mark bey: I think we we should explore the idea of trying to get some of that money from those goverments re offered for this project.

mark said...

Also all summer youth age kids from new orleans should have a job summer youth job cleaning up the garbabe replanting green areas.ect.

Even if they are scattered all over the country. The hard part would be getting back to new orleans to work.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

This makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe there's still money available from the federal government for faith-based initiatives. Someone could team up with a couple of churches in the New Orleans area and try to make a faith-based program out of this, identifying prisoners with construction skills, having them train other prisoners, and sending out groups of five into the community providing free labor on home restoration projects that are identified through the membership and leadership of the local churches.

Bringing churches in might be a way to legitimize the operation and also access a lot of funding from a multitude of faiths that might not otherwise be available.

Hey, community organizing through the church is how Barack Obama got his start!

A good way to get started would be to do some online research and see which ministers in New Orleans have pre-existing prison ministry programs, and then talk with them and other ministers about the idea. They may already know where funding is available for ideas of this sort.

mark said...

" Bringing churches in might be a way to legitimize the operation and also access a lot of funding from a multitude of faiths that might not otherwise be available."

Mark bey: Yo Francis you are correct this is a good Idea I will put into my next post on this topic thank you very much for contributing your creativity to this thread.

Bronzetrinity said...

Hey Mark Bey, an Afrospear forum has been created at

JustMeWriting said...

NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT...REFORM NOT RETAIN!!! Nothing gets done when you're sitting in a cell and there's TOOO much work and help needed. This is an EXCELLENT idea Mark.

I also like the idea of getting entertainers and the churches involved. The wheel of my brain is turning, I'll let you know of any thoughts/ideas to contribute to this effort.

mark said...

Thank you JMW I will be writing a follow up to this post in a day or so. Thank you.

mark said...

Please feel free to contribute any thoughts you have on this matter JMW

Bronzetrinity said...

I was thinking that a lot of this is already set up. People already get community service and probation for minor crimes but for some reason they are jumping at the chance to send Black men to jail.

Hmmm maybe because prisons have become so profitable that they have found a new way to make permanent slaves? Watch Black men for the slightest mistake and then arrest them and find something to charge them with. Send them to jail to make products for the prison industry and get out of jail faster. When they get out of jail no one will hire them. So they commit crime to make money, get caught, thrown in jail and are kept as slaves. They are purposefully choosing jail terms for minor crimes instead of community service. Why? Because people are getting rich off the prisons and those same people don't care about the Black communities. In fact, they love them the way they are because they have a constant supply of slaves! This is being allowed to happen because elected officials are not doing anything about it and neither is the legal system. They have to be held accountable for this. If there are supposedly so many ex-cons are unemployed then Black communities should be immaculate because of all of the community service going on. This system is making the rich richer, keeping the poor poorer, and keeping Black communities on the bottom and people are just letting it happen.
Here's some links

Bronzetrinity said...

"Hello Bronze I have been trying to log on but I never recieved an activation #.
Is this something that you have to send me."

Hi Mark. Could you please try to log in again. You registered as a member already before so you should be able to log in. The code if for people who are registering and they just have to type in the letters they see in the image above where they ask you for the code, the image has letters hidden in it to stop spammers from automatically registering. Please try it again.

Bronzetrinity said...

Mark Bey thank you for your super efforts! You have been writing a lot and the ideas are developing more and more. Thats why I think we need lots of members in the forum because by the time a few people have thought about a campaign and added ideas it turns into something incredible! This is great!

Hathor said...

I think you should look into prisoners rights. Even though I think your Idea is a good one. In some states there may be problems. There are a lot of rules regulating what a prisoner can do and how or what they get paid.
I remember a local incident where there were roofers imprisoned and the state thought they could use them to repair the prison. Even though they were to be paid a wage the same as if they were doing laundry, there was a prison rights group that oppose it. This may be considered different, but I'd check anyway.

mark said...

"There are a lot of rules regulating what a prisoner can do and how or what they get paid."

mark bey: Hathor thta is something to think on and research although I think the fact that this will be a job training program and they will get some sort of stipend might get us around abusing thier rights. It makes no use to have them sitting in jail for years when thier is so much work that needs to be done to rebuild new orleans.

Eddie G. Griffin said...

The idea has some merit and, like Hathor said, some obstacles. In Texas, there are many barriers- almost as if the system wants ex-offenders to fail. There is no skills program, though the state provides for it (limited to select prisoners). Prison plantations can be paid for inmate services, but inmates themselves cannot be paid. There are privatized incarceration facilities and privatized parole supervision. They get paid by head-count and they try to keep their head-counts high. The prison-industrial complex is no longer the marriage between state agency and private enterprise. Now it is private industry with state powers. All of which makes it harder to redeem our young people out of their clutches. In order for us to implement a successful reentry employment program, we must first break the back of the existing system (which may not be as hard as it would seem).

mark said...

"There is no skills program, though the state provides for it (limited to select prisoners). Prison plantations can be paid for inmate services, but inmates themselves cannot be paid."

mark bey: What I am saying Eddie is that we will create those programs, which will train inmates to work in Carpentry and will find funding goverment and private for the purposes of funding this program.

We will need to go to congress as well(specifically to the congressional black caucus) to have them push for funding of these programs.