NAACP wins grant to study, reduce incarceration rates

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The Wilson branch of the NAACP received a $30,000 national grant aimed to provide research, education and advocacy around the need to reduce incarceration rates in Wilson County.

The Vera Institute of Justice recently announced recipients of its In Our Backyards Community Grant, which will also be used to review policies and look at the impact on the community as a whole, particularly children of jailed parents who suffer family separation, housing displacement, mental health challenges, stigma and shame.

“We have one of the highest incarceration rates per capita in the state,” said Carol White, Wilson’s NAACP education committee chairwoman, who is a retired educator. “A lot of people don’t know that.”

White said the local NAACP branch applied for the grant to so its members could examine the impact of incarceration on communities, family and children. She said there are many dynamics that occur in a home when one parent is in jail, including children who go through many emotional issues as a direct result.

“It impacts the economic dynamics of the household and the community,” White said.

Together, the Carolina Justice Policy Center, the NAACP of Wilson County and the Community Alliance for Public Education will work to mobilize community groups, social services organizations, educators, parents, law enforcement and others to advance bail reform and the use of “cite and release” where applicable. The goal is to share data and research in community meetings, forums and roundtable events with law enforcement, community leaders and civil servants.

White said NAACP members are currently meeting with several agencies related to implementing the research grant.

“The grant allows us to do two major events,” she said. “The goal is to educate the community on this topic because so many people don’t even know. We are trying to come up with a way to find support for these children and families but also get some kinds of statistics together.”

White said the NAACP will be making more information available in the upcoming months as its members collaborate with a host of agencies and groups.