Judge Mathis Open Letter: Uplifting Our Young Brothers

Judge-Greg-Mathis-Boy
I, along with my three brothers, was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs and sacrificed a tremendous amount for us. Despite all of her love and hard work, in my youth, I did not escape the pitfalls that commonly plague young boys growing up in low-income and single parent households. I was arrested multiple times until a Michigan judge gave me an ultimatum to either turn my life around and get my education or serve a long term prison sentence. The goodwill sentencing of that judge allowed me to change for the better and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds that my friends and I faced growing up.

I was trapped in a cycle of self-destructive behavior. It’s the same cycle that far too many of our minority brothers are stuck in today. African American males, and more recently, Latino American males are falling behind their American colleagues. The statistics are shocking. In 2008, Latino and African Americans accounted for over 58 percent of our nation’s prisons population – despite only being 25 percent of the American population.
 
The important question we have to answer is: How can we break the cycle of negative outcomes for minority males? Underperforming schools, crime infested neighborhoods, and unprepared parents have combined to become a recipe for disaster in the lives of young men of color. There is a moral imperative to equal the playing field for minority males, but it also makes economic sense for the long-term health of our nation to uplift young boys of color. If we invest in educating our young men instead of locking them up, or allowing them to become trapped in counterproductive lifestyles, I guarantee we will see positive results.
 
Take my story as an example. If the judge that sentenced me had not given me a second chance, it’s highly likely I might still be locked up at an expense of $40,000 per year to the American taxpayer. On the contrary, I was able to benefit from federal investment in my future through affirmative action programs and federal student loans to get my college degree. Through taxes and other efforts, I believe I have more than paid back the government’s investment in me. I was able to break out of the cycle of negative outcomes for young boys like myself. We must prioritize our young boys and figure out why they are failing and what changes we can make to turn this trend around.
 
My Brother’s Keeper represents a crucial commitment to this turnaround effort. Private foundations and philanthropists have pledged at least $200 million, in addition to the $150 million they’ve already invested, to help young minority males close the gap between them and their colleagues. This initial money will be invested in research proven methods and programs in communities that need it most. In addition, President Obama has launched a broader federal interagency task force to examine federal policies and regulations affecting minority males – changing such policies when needed. These are important steps forward that include a number of grassroots activists, faith leaders, and philanthropists determined to push the well-being of America’s minority males to the forefront of our nation’s consciousness. I believe this initiative is just a start, but that with continued investment we will see a long overdue turnaround in outcomes for young boys of color. I welcome this new initiative and look forward to the positive change it will accomplish. 

7A5AA468-50AA-4CEB-B689-588C16C47C38About “Judge Mathis”
Inspired by Judge Greg Mathis’ own gang-to-gavel story, “Judge Mathis” is a nationally syndicated, reality-based court show presided over by former Detroit-area District Court Judge Greg Mathis. Mathis’ decisions are legal and binding. “Judge Mathis” is produced by AND Syndicated Productions and Telepictures Productions, an industry-leading and Emmy Award-winning producer of syndicated programming, and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Originating from Chicago, “Judge Mathis” Season 15 premiered Monday, September 9th. 
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6 thoughts on “Judge Mathis Open Letter: Uplifting Our Young Brothers

  1. Great post Judge Mathis! All too often our boys are sentenced with no regard for the value of their lives. If more judges thought like you would have better rehabilitation in place for boys that need guidance.

  2. People are afraid for their lives…gang violence has gotten completely out of control. In my opinion there is a certain segment of society that will do absolutely nothing about the gangs until it comes in their neighborhood…which is rare. Gang violence is the highest level of ignorance I’ve ever seen in my life…higher than racism. This is why it’s so easy to sell any argument to every other race about us and have them believe it. Parents need to grab hold of their younger children and separate them from any child involved in gangs. It’s tough love times ten but I see no other way…it’s a war and in war there’s collateral damage.

  3. Great post Judge Mathis is one of the few intellects that I as a rogue actually have respect for. However, there is a rumour going around, a good rumour, one of the best that I’ve heard in years. That there are more black men in college than incarcerated nowadays. If this is true, the future is bright for African American Black men.

  4. Greetings Judge and all who read this. I would like to offer my assistance to enhance our young men. My organization creates men into gentlemen, using style & etiquette as the platform.

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