More black males are in jail than are enrolled in colleges or universities. This is one of the findings in a recent study done by the Justice Policy Institute, a prison alternatives advocate group based in Washington, D.C.
The institute found that in 2000, 791,600 black men were in prison or jail while 603,032 were enrolled in colleges or universities. In 1980, however, only 143,000 black men were in jail or prison and 463,700 were in colleges or universities.
According to www.postsecondary.org, black males in Florida are more likely to be behind bars than in college. There are 44,041 black males in prison or jail while there are only 29,394 enrolled in colleges or universities.
At FAMU, according to Angela Peterson, senior registrar officer in FAMU’s Office of the University Registrar, there are 7,097 black females enrolled, but only 4,900 black males enrolled for the 2003 fall semester.
Olu Moloye, a cultural anthropologist and FAMU professor, said he believes the low number of black males in college compared to those in jail is a very serious issue.
“There are multiple reasons for this problem,” Moloye said. “Lack of gainful employment in inner cities is one.”
Moloye explained that successful blacks move out of the inner cities, leaving young black males with no role models or signs of hope for a promising future.
Johnathan McGriff, 21, a senior political science student from Jacksonville is disturbed by the study’s findings. He said he believes there are a lot of black males who would like to go to college but lack the funds to do so.
“I look down on the government,” McGriff said. “Their priorities are mixed up considering that they’re cutting educational funds from state universities but putting money towards prison expansion.”
In a Aug. 25 story on fsunews.com, it was reported that since 1990, more than $450 million have been cut from the budgets of Florida’s state universities. And further cuts are planned under the 2003-04 budget.
According to a study done by the Justice Policy Institute, from 1987-1995, state government expenditures on prisons increased by 30 percent while spending on higher education decreased by 18 percent.
“It’s a sad situation and something needs to change soon,” said Falayn Ferrell, 21, a business student from Houston, Texas. “There are people who would love to attend college, but because of the lack of financial resources; they feel that a life of crime is the only way to succeed.
“I think more money and time should be focused on teaching our young black males that there is no easy way to make a buck, and that there are ways other than crime to succeed in life.”