Morehouse professor says we are losing a generation

Ursula V. Battle | 6/13/2013, 9:26 p.m.
Dr. Henrie Treadwell Research Professor Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine Morehouse School of Medicine Courtesy Photo

Dr. Henri Treadwell highlights the impact of incarceration in her new book “Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men.”

As we celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 16, 2013, one author seeks to remind us that far too many African American children will not be spending this special day with their dads due to incarceration.

Dr. Henrie Treadwell, research professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine, points out that among African American children, one in nine (11.4 percent), have a parent in jail, with more fathers than mothers incarcerated.

“For children of incarcerated parents, studies have shown that they are seven times more likely to go to prison themselves,” said Dr. Treadwell. “And this Father’s Day is just another stark reminder of the uphill battle that they face, especially for young African American boys. We are losing a generation.”

Dr. Treadwell has dedicated her life’s work to improving access to primary health care, prevention and other needed services to all people. She focuses on what she calls her “missing men”— the African American boys and men whose health and well being she feels are seriously threatened by virtually all social and policy systems.

This topic is the focus of her new book, “Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men.”

According to Dr. Treadwell, she decided to write the book to help bring the many issues surrounding the imprisonment of African American males to the forefront.

“The plight of the African American male is something we all must pay attention to,” said Dr. Treadwell. “We have a mass epidemic of incarceration. So many men and boys are going to prison. The dropout rate of African American children is linked to their fathers being in prison. It has been estimated that one out of every two children of incarcerated men drop out of school.”

She added, “Many of the people who are incarcerated have mental problems, need counseling, or have some substance abuse problem that isn’t being treated. They have no hope and they are not getting the treatment they need once they are released. Others can’t find jobs or anything meaningful to do once they are released.”

Dr. Treadwell holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of South Carolina where she enrolled as the first African American after a civil rights lawsuit, and was the first African American woman to ever graduate from the university. She holds a master’s degree in biology from Boston University, a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Atlanta University, and completed postdoctoral work at the Harvard University School of Public Health.

“I am interested in building on the services incarcerated men need so they can get help when they come home,” she said. “I am most concerned with keeping them out of jail and also with keeping our young boys out of juvenile detention, which is the first step towards prison.”