In Boston, the victims of violent crime are overwhelmingly men of color. The homicide rate for young black men is more than 32 times that of young white men. Moreover, the criminal justice system in the United States disproportionately punishes people of color. While black men make up only 13% of the population, they comprise 35% of those incarcerated. Over 1/3 of black men will be incarcerated during their lifetime, as will 1/6 of Latino men. Black people suffer from racially biased decision making at every step of the criminal justice system: they are over-policed and profiled, they experience harsher outcomes due to prosecutor bias and judicial bias, and experience racial bias in jury verdicts and sentencing decisions.
Once involved in the criminal justice system, young people’s employment prospects become bleak. 75% of formerly incarcerated individuals will become re-incarcerated, most of them within a year of being released. For the few who avoid re-incarceration, between 60–75% are still unemployed a year after their release. A criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback from employers by 50%, and black applicants suffer from the stigma of a criminal record twice as much as white applicants with similar records.
ICW mitigates social inequities by flipping power dynamics and changing social norms. We have students earning incomes of over $30K per year, taking vacations, paying rent, supporting their families, spending record amounts of time out of jail, off probation, and enjoying a future that wasn’t always guaranteed.