Incarceration is creating a social and economic crisis in Boston's black community, leaving families without breadwinners, creating single-parent households, and depressing incomes, says a survey from the Center for Church and Prison reported by the Boston Globe. Families, the report found, must struggle to stay together under the weight of loss: the loss of financial stability, loss of family stability, loss of a sense of security. The findings build on other research that identifies the disproportionate effect of the war on drugs on the black community and the emphasis in the criminal justice system on punishment, rather than rehabilitation.
“For a lot of people, the incarceration of a relative is a stigma, and they try to keep it” a secret, said the Rev. George Walters-Sleyon, the center's executive director. “They don't want people to think, as parents, they did not raise their children properly.” Blacks and Hispanics make up less than 20 percent of the state's population but more than 55 percent of its prison population. Conducted at 11 black Boston-area churches, the study explores the socioeconomic effects of incarceration, the nature of the crimes committed, and attitudes about ways churches can intervene.