Professionals from around San Diego met as part of a panel on Tuesday to discuss a new report released by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples.
“Misplaced Priorities,” a report detailing the state’s prison and education spending, outlines ways over-incarceration in California negatively affects minority populations and their educational opportunities.
According to the NAACP, prison spending in California has increased 25 times faster than the spending on higher education in the past 30 years.
“People need to realize that they (the government) are spending more on incarcerating than educating,” Lei-Chala Wilson, President of the San Diego Chapter of the NAACP, said. “I think once people understand that they are spending more to send someone to prison than to college I think there’s going to be some changes.”
The panel, comprised of local business owners, activists and students, said the report was a call to action in the community.
Panelist and Diversity Co-Commissioner of Associated Students, Channelle McNutt cited studying the problem of gang involvement and creating programs that would teach youth the negative effects of gang violence as some important aspects of the report.
“I feel that all African-American students at SDSU, or even the greater College Area, have a call to action to support our community and to go out and be mentors to the youth that is becoming a part of those gangs,” McNutt said.
Although the report gives a list of 11 resolutions, such as supporting agencies that may find ways to downsize prison populations and reallocate funds toward education, members of the audience were brimming with questions and comments about the various ways different problems could be fixed.
One audience member stated there is a problem involving young people being taught to devalue education, which glorifies a life of crime promoted by popular culture. The member asked the panel how to deal with that problem.
Another audience member proposed that those in attendance should become more enthusiastic and motivated in order to take action in their daily lives.
Both agreed everyone has a responsibility to change the attitude of youth.
McNutt said in an interview that she plans to have more philanthropic events geared toward San Diego’s community within the Afrikan Student Union. She also said she wants to reach out to the community and increase the mentorship of young people.
The meeting of panelists was part of the NAACP’s effort to educate the community about the findings of the report.
The data compiled in the report is founded on the research and analysis of institutions such as The Pew Research Center, The Institute for Higher Education Policy and The Vera Institute of Justice, among others.
The report, released on April 7, is part of the NAACP’s “Smart and Safe Campaign,” an initiative aimed at the reformation of the nation’s criminal justice system.