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Racism and Treatment

by Terrance Hazel

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice's (TDCJ) present method of administering Substance Abuse Treatment Programs (SATP) discriminate against Black and Hispanic inmates. Black and Hispanic prisoners are:

71 percent of inmate population (35,000+)
80 percent of that 71 percent have serious drug problems (20,000+).

Yet TDCJ (as of Spring '92), despite overwhelming evidence (Davis & Tunks, 1991; Desmund & Maddux, 1984; Grant, 1992) that `Cultural Sensitivity' improves the likelihood of positive treatment outcomes:

Had one licensed Black/Hispanic SATP counselor for 45+ prison units, and over 50,000 inmates.
Refuses to acknowledge Cultural issues (i.e. Cultural Correlates and Risk-Factors).
Uses no Culturally Sensitive materials in their SATPs.
Brings new prisons on-line without any treatment staff.

There is no doubt that Black and Hispanic addiction issues get no priority. The amount we spend to incarcerate one person, with no positive outcome, would treat two or three addicts, and educate at least one child through Harvard.

Several recent studies found that "...urban youth laugh at current mainstream attempts to reach them. (Juzang, The MEE Report; Reaching the Hip-Hop Generation.) While the Texas Youth Commission found "Widespread differences in the treatment of minorities..." (Jackson, 1993). Another book, Deadly Consequences, by Prothrow-Stith, M.D. (1991), found "...violence destroying our teenage population...." Even medical experts call for a more holistic, flexible, and tailored approach (Educating Poor Minority Children, James Comer, Ph.d, 1988). How many lives must be lost before you get involved and inject some sanity into the thinking in Austin? You must get busy now! Our kids are killing themselves and innocent bystanders, and terrorizing everyone in the process.

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