Here’s what’s on tap at the V.I. Legislature this week.
I remember as a teen, you had two other options after graduation, if you didn't go to college or got a job; it was either the Army or Prison.
Both options, then, offered opportunities after leaving, if that individual took advantage of the training and educational rehabilitation programs.
During the Vietnam War, some of those convicted of misdemeanor crimes were sometimes given the option to serve in the arm services or serve their time, in other words, Jail or The War.
Then too, if you were Black or Puerto Rican you had little, to no, chance of getting into any of the Teamster/Trades Unions, controlled by The Families. If you did, you were an ex-con, that they knew would work in their behalf, enjoying benefits and protection.
To make my point, not just now, but back then, there were those who would, right after Thanksgiving, commit a petty offense that would get them enough time to get them through the hard cold winter months. Leaving their families to fend for themselves.
It is no wonder that statistics are showing that Black men in prison are healthier and living longer than the average Black man in America, struggling to make ends meet.
Beginning in the home, using here as an example, most of the parents, especially those who have migrated here, from the other islands were raised by the Christian value, by the sweat of your brow you shall earn your keep. Some of us can testify to how hard we as children had to work, today, would be considered abuse. Yet, we survived and thrived on those experiences. But, too many parents have raised their children to expect something for doing nothing, with the feeling your children are not going to have to struggle like you had to as a youth. That hard work made you strong and built character.
Imagine, we have welfare recipients, and prisoners sitting in jail, receiving food, shelter, health and dental care without any retribution to the community. The chain gang system was abusive, but had and has it's merits.
Today, and I mean not to over look nor to dismiss the underlined causes and effects of the long term impact on individuals and society, ex: discovery (stealing land), slavery, indentured servitude, share cropping, welfare, discrimination, racism, nepotism, drugs, prisons, inferior education, slum landlords, an apathetic government, etc., which are the roots of this dysfunctional condition.
In my opinion, the cope-out is that most black criminals in jail are using their drug arrests as a Political Prisoner's Status, to negate their responsibility to their families. By going to jail, they are taking care of and their families go on welfare.
This has grown into a symbiotic relationship between the poor and the middle class. Crime, being a by-product of poverty, provides jobs for the welfare, criminal / justice, social services systems and all of their supplies.
Solutions: prisoner's time served paying retribution; welfare recipients earn their keep, and the Government graduate the Youth into society with marketable skills or trades.
Ivan Butcher II
St.Croix, Virgin Islands