The Issue and History of Illiteracy Among African Americans

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The Issue And History Of Illiteracy Among African Americans

Becca White

Writing 123

Instructor Sydney Darby

27 May 2008

Illiteracy is a growing issue in America. The U.S. Department of Education funded the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) in 1992 that estimates over 90 million Americans fall well below an eight grade literacy level (Rome, 2004, pp. 84).
Nowhere is this tragedy more prevalent than among the impoverished African
Americans. Illiteracy has always been higher among African Americans now the gap is growing even wider due to a verity of reasons. According to the National Assessment of
Adult Literacy Prison Survey (2003), the number one deterrent to becoming a criminal is having the ability to read past the
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The eighties saw African American males fall further than any other group in terms of wages and jobs (Foner, 2006, pp. 920). The eighties also saw the War on Drugs begin with new sentencing laws making prison sentences longer and harsher for possession of much smaller quantities of crack and cocaine (Foner, 2006, pp. 951). With the waning of the crack epidemic, crime rates dropped across the country however prison population are still on the rise (Foner, 2006, pp. 951). In 2000, over 2 million men were in prison with approximately 4.2 million more on parole, or probation, convict labor is now in use again in several States (Foner, 2006, pp. 951).
Among prison inmates, African American men make up more than 70%, and represents only 6% of the total US population. The common thread is most of the black inmates cannot read, they also are less educated than their fathers had been (Nealy, 2008, pp. 21). It is estimated that as much as 70% of inmates are illiterate, and that 40-70% have not finished a GED or high school program (Drakeford, 2002, pp. 139). The cost according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (2001) was $22,632 per inmate per year or
$62.01 per day. The total population under correctional supervision includes more than 7 million people, or about 3.1 percent of all
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