Las Vegas, NV — Mass incarceration has been an issue that has plagued the Black community for quite some time. It has broken up many Black homes which has only helped continue the cycle.
When people often hear about mass incarceration they don’t necessarily think about it on the juvenile level.
Tamia Cenance is someone who was directly affected when her father got caught up in the legal system at a young age. Being directly affected by the system made her take a larger look at it.
BGR is an extension of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC). Cenance is just carrying on what her grandmother previously started, since she co-founded the FFLIC.
BGR is geared towards helping young Black Women and Girls in Detention Centers. They also aim to provide support for families of the incarcerated. With her having a close connection to these types of situations, it was easy for her to see her father in these young people.
“They are going to be someone’s fathers and mothers, so I just want to fight for them to make sure they are actually being rehabilitated and working toward closing the prisons,” said Cenance.
While both organizations are aiming to close youth prisons for good, they are also focused on making sure that they are getting the rehabilitation that is needed for them while they are in these facilities. Oftentimes, this isn’t the case.
When you factor in the racial disparities that are also at play when it comes to young Black people versus their white counterparts, it is clear why organizations like BGR and FFLIC exist.
According to The Sentencing Project, Black youth in America are 4.4 times more likely to go to jail compared to their white counterparts, even though the total Black population is 15%.
The work is still being done on a consistent basis to close these juvenile facilities, but even though there has been progression there are still cases where these young people are transferred to state penitentiaries for adults.
This was the case for several incarcerated youth last year in a juvenile detention center in Louisiana.
Connie Lewis, who is a chapter leader with FFLIC in Lake Charles, Louisiana mentioned how he was brought to tears when this happened.
“I have been doing this work for 27 years and I thought we had gotten further than that. I was devastated to hear that the state could incarcerate juveniles in an adult facility,” said Lewis.