WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Troubled Black boys and young men need chances at rehabilitation, mental healthcare treatment, health care, and even drug counseling instead of being marched into a quagmire of detention, punishment and lost potential, a commission organized by the new Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reported July 26.
A panel of respected experts, known as the Dellums Commission, examined the cumulative impact on community health of evolving national and state policies that limit life options for young Black men. The commission’s recommendations are in the form of proposed policy reforms.
“As overall child mortality fell dramatically from 1981 to 2001, the only group that did not experience a reduction in death rates was African Americans between 15 and 19 years old, mostly because of a rise in homicide and suicide rates,” the Health Policy Institute said in a statement.
“Black, Latino, Asian and native American young men are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates. Many young men of color are unable to recover from serious mental illness because they are warehoused in juvenile detention centers where the availability of community mental health care services are severely limited.”
“People tend to become insensitive to numbers,” the Hon. Ronald Dellums told reporters July 26. “Two-thirds of this, 10 percent of that, one-quarter of this, it just rolls off our backs. But the point we wish to make in this commission is that these are real human beings.
“Between the lines, there are millions of young men of color who are suffering in this country, and who believe that people are not there to stand with them or stand for them,” said Mr. Dellums, a social worker by training who served in the U.S. Congress from 1971 through 1998, representing Oakland, Calif. He was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and served a term as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, earning respect as a consensus builder and an intellectual.
“We start from the premise that virtually every institution that impacts their lives has, at one level or another, failed them. The family, the churches, the schools, the juvenile justice system, child welfare system, all of the institutions,” he continued.
There are 21 other commissioners representing Black, Latino, Native American and Asian communities. The commission will investigate disparities in health care, and the policies that contribute to them. The Joint Center’s three-year-old Health Policy Institute’s mission is to “ignite a Fair Health movement that gives people of color the inalienable right to equal opportunity for healthy lives.”