Morehouse School of Medicine

Rerouting the Pipeline: From Prison to Possibilities for Black Males

Offender re-entry

With a groundbreaking network of coaches, programs, and services, we can keep the nation’s 14- to 24-year-old, non-violent, black male offenders from returning to prison.

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Hundreds of thousands of African-American men are missing — from families, communities, workplaces, data, voting, and society — because they are incarcerated. We seek to address this crisis by diverting the pipeline of black males 14 to 24 from the prison system into lives of opportunity. We propose the creation of a nationwide network of specially trained Life Coaches to assist this group of incarcerated men and, upon release, guide them to a newly organized ecosystem of services in education, healthcare, employment, entrepreneurship, and life skills. Morehouse School of Medicine, a historically black college and university, is the right institution to lead this initiative because we are successfully addressing microcosms of the larger problem: the shortage of black males graduating high school and of those entering the competitive healthcare workforce. We are also known as a convener of and partner with educational, economic, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations around the globe.

Problem Statement

Racism, poverty, crime, the “war on drugs,” the deinstitutionalization of the mental-health system, and the prison industrial complex have created a mass-incarceration boom, with more than 2 million people in state and federal prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, jails, and other institutions. The boom has disproportionately affected men of color, who make up 40 percent of the incarcerated population but only 13 percent of U.S. residents. This means that hundreds of thousands of African-American men are missing from families, communities, governments, and economies. This is devastating to the men themselves, as well as to children, women, civic systems, and economies. There is a loss of human and financial capital that is painful for communities already suffering under the weight of poverty, political disenfranchisement, food deserts, the drug epidemic, a decline in industrial activity, and dwindling employment opportunities. All of this keeps African-American males and the people around them in a vicious cycle — a cycle that Morehouse School of Medicine stands ready to break. Though much has been said about the issue, little has been accomplished to address it. Critically missing from the larger dialogue and advocacy are institutions intimately linked to those at risk. MSM is a leader among those institutions. We have been successful in addressing part of the problem — the lack of black males in medical school — and are therefore uniquely positioned to address the national epidemic.

Solution Overview

If you were to view the pathway to a successful and productive life as a pipeline, you would find many leaks along the way for black men aged 14 to 24. At Morehouse School of Medicine, we are committed to plugging up as many of the leaks as possible, in order to allow more black men to flow into lives of opportunity — lives that will contribute to their families, children, communities, economies, and to the greater good. Already MSM has been successful in beginning to mend the leaky pipeline for black males in medicine, giving thousands of children and young adults access to STEM and other education programs that pave the way to careers in science and health. With this new program, individuals with nonviolent convictions who are within one year of release, on parole, or under court-mandated diversion will be eligible for academic and behavioral assessment and potential enrollment. It is projected that at least 70 percent of those scanned will be eligible for program services. These men will be offered mentoring, primary healthcare, drug abuse prevention, transportation, family reunification services, career counseling, and educational programs and workplace opportunities. Each enrollee will be assigned a care-management team to assist with housing, legal services, documentation, a driver’s license, and other logistical hurdles. The program will enable participants to exit the revolving door of recidivism. We will monitor and manage the program, collecting data to determine its impact on individual and household income, high school completion rates, divorce rates, and

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Project Funders

  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation 2011 - 2016
  • Metro United Methodist Church

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