« PreviousContinue »
of the things that most youngsters, and I am talking about Negro youngsters in the ghetto now, aspire to get hold of. I think that if you start with this pretext, you are able to understand better some of their problems.
Senator CLARK. This strikes me, and I would like your comment, as rather too bad, because the emphasis which has been placed on a plutocracy as the last answer to happiness in America, ever since the days of the robber barons, has seemed to be to be a great shaggy one. America was orginally built by people who wanted to move out to the frontier and get 160 acres and cut down the woods and have a farm.
I would hope that some of that is a little more idealistic than the Botany suit and the Cadillac.
I would hope, too, that many of these young people would turn their attention toward careers in the teaching profession and other areas in the health, education, and walfare areas. Of course, if they do not, they do not, and if in order to keep them straight and out of jail, we have to hold a Cadillac in front of them, maybe that is what we had better do.
Any comment on that?
Mr. Haskins. Going back to some of the programs you talked about, OEO and Headstart, I think they are excellent programs, but I think in far too many cases these youngsters, whether it is a Headstart or preschool program, or whether they are in school, still have to come back to the prisons in which they live. I think it is here they pick up 90 percent in the area of developing behavior patterns. I think that one of the problems is that the Negro can never move out of this area. He can never buy a house in the suburbs. So what does he do? He buys a Cadillac car and begins to buy things that show out ward signs of affluence because he knows he cannot go out and buy the house like the middle-income white person can buy because he does not have the free access to the good things in life and he sets himself a different set of values. These values manifest themselves in the things I am talking about-shoes, car, affluence.
Senator Clark. How about a good job? Is that not important to him?
Mr. HASKINS. They told us years ago, "You go to school, you get a good education, you will be able to get a good job.” We are finding out that this is not so. We are also finding out now that many people in industry, in the private sector, have developed the overt signs of denial and have really gone into great detail to make sure that the Negro gets interviewed, but still does not get the job.
The job does not become the end in itself. We have also far too many Negroes who need a job, but the job is not the first answer.
He may need eyeglasses, he may need his teeth fixed, he may have feet trouble. I can think of many people who want a job but are not in condition to actually keep a job.
Senator CLARK. He also needs a better high school education.
Mr. HASKINS. He needs a high school education. We see too many of our Negroes coming from the southern areas where they have separate and supposedly equal schools. They are coming from those southern areas to the North but they are finding they cannot articulate, their English is poor, they split verbs, and they are denied jobs based on the outward signs of a separate but unequal school system in the South.
Senator Clark. Do you live in Washington now?
Senator CLARK. Are you pretty familiar with the conditions in the District of Columbia ?
Mr. Haskins. Very familiar.
Senator CLARK. Do you think the average graduate of a Washington high school is getting the kind of education he or she ought to get, comparable at all to the high school graduate out in wealthy suburb!
Mr. Haskins. I think that all depends on the school or the school system. I cannot make a blanket statement and say that this would be applicable to all the high schools in the District of Columbia.
Senator CLARK. I live down in the Southwest, and I am told that there is a very good school down there which is predominantly Negro, nonetheless.
Mr. Haskins. I know the school you are talking about. That is supposed to be a very good school system. Unfortunately, all of the schools are not up to that level. This is what makes it impossible to pass the various requirements to enter college.
Senator Clark. Well, thank you very much. I do not want to cut you off. Is there any thing else you want to say?
Mr. Haskins. No, I think that pretty well sums up our views. We are approaching this thing purely from the viewpoint of the social practitioner rather than anybody who is interested in lobbying or promoting any specific kind of legislation; so our testimony here is from the viewpoint of a social practitioner.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Haskins follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF WILLIAM J. HASKINS, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR.
WASHINGTON BUREAU, NATIONAL L'RBAN LEAGUE Jr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is William J. Haskins. I am Associate Director of the Washington Bureau-National Urban Loague.
The National Urban League is a professional community service organization committed to securing equal opportunities for Negroes and other minorities in all areas of American life.
It is nonpartisan and interracial in its leadership and staff, with affiliates in 82 cities, in 33 states and the District of Columbia. It maintains National Headquarters in New York City; regional offices in Akron, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York and St. Louis, and a Washington Bureau.
A professional staff of 800, trained in the techniques and disciplines of Social Work, conducts the day-to-day activities of the Crban League throughout the country, aided by more than 8,000 volunteers who bring expert knowledge and experience to racial matters.
Our concern about juvenile delinquency is heightened when we remind ourselves that the population of young people is increasing every year, and that young people generally have always had a higher crime rate than adults.
The report of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement points out that in 1965 a majority of all arrests for major crimes were of people under 21. as were à substantial number of arrests for major crimes against other persons.
It is apparent that we cannot hope to reduce crime if we do not, at the same time, reduce juvenile delinquency.
First, and most basic, there must be a real opportunity to participate in the legitimate activities that lead to or constitute a good life in our sociey: education, recreation, employment. and family life. Second, we must strengthen the system of juvenile justice the law-enforcement agencies, the courts and correction agencies that deal with serious young offenders; and third, there must be a response to "the special needs of youth with special problems"-the youth whose needs fall somewhere between those activities relevant to all young people and the requirement of rigorous judicial action. The legislation before you, although firmly linked to broad prevention measures, is primarily aimed at strengthening the juvenile justice system and meeting the special needs of youth on the edge of trouble.
All of us are engaged in a continuing struggle to understand and to adapt to change. Adolescence has always been a period of change and adaptation, but the moorings on which young people have usually depended or against which they have tested themselves have grown increasingly shaky. The rapid change they perceive in the world around them makes them doubt the usefulness of patterning themselves after their parents in the unkonwn world of tomorrow.
Circumstances have reinforced what some call the “youth subculture"-the development among our youth of values, behavior and communications that cut across lines of class, race and geography. Youth are beginning to look more to each other for directions than to adults. Of course, they share many significant values with the adult world, but they have some values which set their world apart.
Among nearly all youth this is evident in similarities of dress, language and style, but it is sometimes expressed more seriously in anti-social gang behavior whether in the streets of New York or Los Angeles.
The adult world has contributed to the emergence of a "youth culture." We require our young people to spend more time than ever before in waiting and preparing to assume their places in adult society, and at the same time mass media greatly heighten youth's awareness of its own special status and special mores.
The differences between the youth world and the adult world can harden into antagonisms which sometimes explode into overt conflict. This phenomenon is by no means peculiar to the United States. It can be observed in practically every industrial urbanized society.
Fortunately, most young people, including most who have engaged in delinquent acts, are able to make the transition to adulthood without serious damage to themselves or others. They go on to lead useful and law-abiding lives. But there are many who are permanently damaged in the transition, who suffer a great sense of personal inadequacy, who are stigmatized as delinquent or who emerge from youthhood as hardened criminals.
The youth population is growing—by 1970 more than one-half our population will be under 25. Crime and delinquency are growing. According to the Children's Bureau, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, one out of nine youth (one out of every six male youths) will be referred to juvenile court before the age of 18.
In terms of cost effectiveness alone, corrective measures are highly expensive. The average cost of maintaining a youngster in a public training school is $3,070 per year. In California, it is estimated that an average combined juvenile and adult criminal career costs the governmental system $10,000. By 1975 that State is expected to spend almost $900 million per year on its police and adjudication, probation, incarceration and parole functions directly related to crime and delinquency. This does not include the costs of crime itself measured in property value lost or destroyed, or intangible emotional or psychological losses. Effective prevention would reduce such costs considerably.
Further, much of the money spent for such correctional programs seems ineffective. Recidivism among young people who have been institutionalized is 48 per cent and large numbers of young people placed on probation commit further offenses.
But it is not only cost-effectiveness that drives us to emphasize prevention. The more young people we can save from the courts, from the hardening experience of incarceration, and from the stigma of a police record, the better our Nation will be.
The search for preventive measures leads us to reflect o the circumstances out of which delinquency most frequently develops.
One firm generalization we can make is that, despite the rise in suburban delinquency, the delinquent youth is a slum dweller.
By 1980, 75 percent of our population will live in metropolitan areas. Crime and delinquency rates are considerably higher in the more deprived centers of these metropolitan areas where discrimination herds minority groups into ghettos, and slum conditions prevail. In areas where income is low, unemployment high, housing poor, health resources inaccessible, and recreation facilities inadequate the crime and delinquency rates are staggering.
In other words, where crime and delinquency rates are highest, one is certain to find all the other evidences of social disintegration and chaos.
Today, as the President's Commission on Law Enforcement makes clear in its report: "* * * Negroes who live in disproportionate numbers in slum neighborhoods account for a disproportionate large number of arrests. Numerous studies indicate that what matters is where in the city one is growing up, not religion or nationality or race ***. They found that for all groups the delinquency rates were highest in the center and lowest on the outskirts of the city But for Negroes, movement out of the inner city and absorption into America's middle class have been much slower and more difficult than for any other ethnic or racial group."
We hare said on more than one occasion that the gravest challenge facing the Nation today is to resolve the interlocking problems of poverty, discrimination, and the urban decadence.
If we are serious about reducing crime and delinquency, we also have to be serious about addressing these three basic problems.
Obviously, the problems of contemporary youth, which I mentioned earlier, are multiplied many times for the inner-city youth. His parents, if he's lucky enough to hare both, are often too preoccupied with the daily struggle for survival to provide sufficient guidance or adequate models for his aspirations although it is remarkable what some parents have done despite these circumstances.
His surroundings are bleak, overcrowded and depressing-both at home and at school. More often than not he has left (or has been pushed oui of) school. If so, it is difficult to find work because of lack of education, because of discrimination and in many cases, because of an arrest record.
In these circumstances, the temptation to join the hustlers and criminals, who infest the streets must be enormous, and it says something for the durability of the human spirit that so many survive as law-abiding adults.
In short, anyone concerned about the prevention of delinquency must be concerned with measures to upgrade education in the slums, to fashion model neighborhoods, provide decent housing for the poor, provide work opportunities for youth and adults, provide vocational education and training that will result in jobs, end discrimination in housing, education and employment, involve people in getting themselves out of poverty, increase the level of welfare payments and to improve welfare services for children.
The most significant Federal initiative in this field was the Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act, enacted in 1961.
In passing that Act, the Congress mandated a fresh approach to the Nation's youth problems. Bold in concept, but limited to the $47 million appropriated in fiscal years 1961–67, the strategy has been to assist communities, institutions and agencies in planning and initiating innovative demonstration and training programs.
Many of the hallmarks of that program have since become major policies and programs of the antipoverty program as can be seen in the broadly-based community action programs, which plan with the target population instead of for them, subsidized work-training for out-of-school, out-of work youth; neighborhood-based multi-service centers; neighborhood legal services; and the training and hiring of indigenous subprofessionals.
These and many other innovative attempts to counter-act delinquency have been stimulated by more than 200 demonstration and training grants provided under the Act. Some of the attempts have been clearly successful and are readily transferable to communities across the Nation. Some have been inconclusive and others have failed altogether. Since the main object was to test new methods and find new solutions, both the successes and the failures have taught us something.
We have learned that the labeling of the young offender as an official delinquent can damage and isolate him. A study at Harvard, for example, has shown that the mere involvement of an individual with the juvenile justice system increases the chances that he will return to that system, and commitment to correctional institutions may serve to reinforce delinquent values and negative attitudes toward authority. Correspondingly, we have found that the best programs are those that keep first offenders out of the correctional process.
We have also learned that aberrant or delinquent behavior, particularly among low-income minority youth, is often based on having no meaningful role in legitimate society.
We have also learned that bringing youth into a constructive relationship with the police and other symbols of authority can have an impact on delinquency. We are all concerned with the effort to break the cycle. In order to achieve this goal, there must be planning, there must be an integration of correctional and community srevices, there must be a non-judicial alternative for youth offenders, there must be research and there must be more money available to support these operations.
And finally, Mr. Chairman, above all else, there must be hope of a new start for the many youth who may otherwise be condemned to a chronic dependency and crime.
Senator CLARK. Thank you very much.
The subcommittee will stand in recess until Wednesday, the 25th, at 10 a.m., when we will resume our hearings.
(Thereupon, at 11:50 a.m., the hearing was recessed, to reconvene on Wednesday, October 25, 1967, at 10 a.m.)