Dear Fellow Staff:
This will go down as a week most of us will never forget. Not only did we finish our 12th week of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we saw our country and our communities in turmoil. We should be proud of our fellow citizens in Baltimore, as we have been viewed nationally as an example of strong yet peaceful protests. Virtually everyone in this country agrees that racial injustice plagues the criminal justice system and that it needs fundamental change. We can hope and pray that the conversations over the next months will serve as a basis for much needed reform.
In 1992, I led a research project directly addressing race and the criminal justice system in the city of Baltimore. The results in the final report, titled Hobbling A Generation — African American Males in Baltimore’s Criminal Justice System were shocking. We found that 54% of black males 18-35 years old were under some type of criminal justice system- prison, parole, probation and pre-trial supervision. We hoped this report would be a catalyst for change but our country’s leaders were still in the “get tough” mode, and the trend continued. Perhaps now they will listen.
On the NCIA front, I want to continue to thank all NCIA staff for following our policies and protocols for keeping themselves and our clients safe. The wearing of PPE and social distancing is really working. As of this week, we have no COVID quarantine homes. We had 11 staff members test positive and all but 3 are back to work.
As we are now in Phase Two in the Governor’s plan to reopen, we are being cautiously optimistic about an eventual reopening of our office building and a relaxation of some of our program restrictions. As of yesterday, Maryland had 712 new Covid-19 cases and 36 new deaths.This is a plan in process and is not yet happening. As of yesterday, Maryland had 712 new Covid-19 cases and 36 new deaths. We will be notifying you as our plans progress and how our “Safe In All Settings” campaign will be implemented.
On the program level, we continue to progress in all areas. We have used this COVID-19 pandemic as a learning opportunity and have implemented distance learning across our array of programs. In addition to developing educational opportunities, our program staff have continued our mission of making sure we “touch” all of our clients on a regular basis and make sure their emotional needs are being met.
I would like to share with you one great example from our YIT School this week. In a young men’s group counseling session conducted by our school staff, students were asked the question—“Instead of the judgement and stereotypes, what would you want people to think about you when you are walking down the street?” Here are a few of the answers:
- “I’m just a loveable and caring person, not this monster people think I am because of my color.”
- “I’m just a young black man trying to make it out of the hood.”
- “I’m not dangerous—I’m just a person.”
As we move forward as an agency and as a society, we are all hopeful that as a community we can continue to heal, both emotionally and in our physical health. Hope is a good thing, and hope never dies.
Thanks for all your continued hard work and commitment to our clients.
Herb Hoelter, CEO