Baltimore Times Q&A With Baltimore's New City Council President, Brandon Scott
Questions by Regi Taylor | Photos by Jourdan Taylor | 5/31/2019, 6 a.m.
Baltimore Times: Research shows roughly 10,000 ex-offenders return to Baltimore streets annually with a recidivism rate of about 40 percent over 36 months. There appears a symbiotic relationship has developed between ex-offenders and urban street culture. The prison culture appears to have infiltrated the streets. What's your response?
Brandon Scott: Listen, I talked about this a lot when I was running for lieutenant governor last year of the prison system. We have to rehabilitate.
That's not what's happening. We have to do that with a laser focus, right. So for example, we know that Sandtown-Winchester, per capita, has more ex-offenders than any neighborhood in the state, right?
If we know young men and young women, violent ex-offenders are coming home in three to four years to that neighborhood then we also know that we have organizations like Center for Urban Families there, that want to help them reacclimate— with their families, with their children— so they can be full members of the community.
Baltimore Times: I have one final question on incarceration and violence. Research shows that one of six Baltimoreans, are functionally illiterate— over 100,000 people. Of youth who go through the juvenile justice system, 85 percent are illiterate and 60 percent of prisoners overall in Maryland are illiterate. How do you deal with massive illiteracy and a high school graduation rate of nearly 50 percent?
Brandon Scott: What we can do from the council's standpoint, understanding we have no direct power over the school system, we know from statistics that if someone’s child is reading at or above grade level at third grade then they won't fall into the traps we've talked about. That'swhere the investment has to be.
We have to figure out a way to multiply so many efforts across the city. We have to have a literacy and reading program for our children, We have to invest more in programs like Youth Opportunity, the YO program, that I'm actually an alum of, getting them their GED's, getting them into college, getting them to have the skills they need.
They're not going to be popular. They're not going to be pretty and shiny. There will be some failure in them but we know that we can't continue to have ourselves do the same things., We have these needs that have to be met for people so we have to come up with creative ways to meet them.
Thank you, thank you so much.
Baltimore Times: Thank you as well, President Scott. We appreciate you making time for us.