How Can We Prevent the “Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline That Damages the Lives of Many Young African-American and Latino Men?”

‘Columbia Links’ Teens Host Free Public Panel of Prominent Experts in Town Hall to Address Humanitarian and Public Policy Question of Disproportionate Incarceration Rates

November 7, 2013

Why is the incarceration rate so high for young African-American and Latino men? Teens in Columbia Links, a journalism and news literacy program for Chicago high school students based at Columbia College Chicago, have been investigating this “cradle-to-prison pipeline” question and will discuss their findings in a town hall meeting titled Lost Boys Black and Brown: The Plight and the Promise.

One reason, according to Columbia Links, is the “zero tolerance policy” of the Chicago Public Schools. Instead of dealing on-site with bad adolescent behavior, the schools suspend and expel students, leaving them with no structure or supervision on the city’s streets. There they are more prone to be picked up for minor offenses, become involved in gang culture and move on to more serious offenses.

The reasons are more complex than just school dropouts and expulsions, as the Columbia Links teen journalists discovered. They explored the concept of “white privilege” in their in-depth reporting. Its unspoken assumptions shape institutions, especially the juvenile justice system that entraps black and Latino teen boys.

Business and government leaders across the political spectrum call this a national security and economic issue, losing so many productive lives to incarceration, paid for by taxpayers. Early childhood programs are one preventive measure. What other solutions are working? In addition to the students, panelists include prominent Chicagoans who know the dismal statistics and also what works in terms of prevention and rehabilitation.

Panelists include:

  • Mariame Kaba, founder and director of the restorative justice organization Project NIA
  • Dr. Elena Quintana, executive director of the Institute of Public Safety and Social Justice
  • Chris Bernard, program coordinator, Cook County Justice Advisory Council
  • Tim King, founder and CEO, Urban Prep Academies
  • Marshaun Bacon, lead supervisor of Youth Guidance’s B.A.M. (Becoming A Man)
  • Ken Berry, a senior paralegal at Winston & Strawn, who served eight years in prison for a sexual assault he did not commit
  • Corey Buchanan, counselor/chaplain, Chicagoland Prison Outreach, who served time for attempted murder of a police officer
  • Alex del Toro, outreach worker, YMCA Street Intervention Program
  • Moderator: Natalie Moore, WBEZ-FM

5:30 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 12)

Stage Two
618 S. Michigan Ave., Second Floor
Columbia College Chicago

Space is limited. RSVP is highly encouraged at

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to more than 10,000 students in more than 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit


Media Contacts:
Steve Kauffman,, 312.369.7383
Cara Birch,, 312.369.8695