The Problem

Absence of opportunity feeds the POVERTY cycle

When someone lives in poverty; all of his or her efforts revolve around existence, survival, fight, and flight. There isn’t time to consider personal development, lifelong dreams or advancement of oneself.

POVERTY is defined as a lack of necessities.

Lack of Education

Lack of education is one of the root causes of poverty, which produces a lack of opportunity and any other beneficial living norms. Children in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty experience more social and behavioral problems, have lower test scores and are more likely to drop out of school. Education is, however, one which has enabled many people to overcome poverty. Recent research suggests that reducing children’s exposure to concentrated poverty can improve their likelihood of upward economic mobility.

Lack of Resources

These communities are lacking community resources, whether they are funded by private non-profit groups or local, state, or federal government sources. Some examples of what may be missing or few are enrichment activity organizations, financial aid organizations, and healthcare organizations. Healthcare organizations are essential community resources, particularly for individuals who are disabled, chronically ill or do not have the financial resources to access private healthcare providers.

Lack of Opportunity

Poverty has various forms; relational, emotional, occupational, recreational, health and perhaps the most obvious… financial. Given the opportunity to address these issues would make it possible to heal the community. Unfortunately, many communities battling growing impoverishment find themselves without the help needed to provide these opportunities and feel forgotten by their state or surrounding communities.

This leads to behaviors and outcomes that make a community vulnerable. Vulnerable and poverty-stricken communities face many problems that aid in the repeat poverty cycle: adolescent pregnancy, access to clean drinking water, child abuse and neglect, crime, domestic violence, drug use, environmental contamination, ethnic conflict, health disparities, HIV/ AIDS, hunger, inadequate emergency services, inequality, jobs, lack of affordable housing, poverty, racism, transportation, violence.

The domino effect is clear; where you find poverty, you find violence, left, and criminal activity… Where you find high percentages of violence and criminal activity you find higher levels of mass incarceration… And where you find high levels of mass incarceration you find the further destruction of a community.

The U.S. has just 5 percent of the world’s population, but has an astonishing 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Incarceration is a costly and futile approach to criminal justice as well as being a leading contributor to the country’s poverty rate!

Re-entry into society proves difficult without proper opportunity. Even in a good economy, “over half go back to jail in three years. The lack of employment plays a big part in this.”
-Carol Peeples, re-entry coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition in Denver.

On a national level, economics aside, the toll that mass incarceration takes on communities is immeasurable.

Children losing one or more parent to incarceration can set a child up for a life of poverty and detrimental mental health issues.

Further, communities that suffer from a high rate of mass incarceration often are impacted by “zero-tolerance” policies in schools. Thus, children often experience their first arrest in their early teenage years and quickly find themselves on a path of repeated incarceration.

1 in 5 individuals serving time in federal prison was charged with a drug offense. Almost 3 percent of black male U.S residents of all ages were imprisoned in 2013.

When released and searching for a job, many felons aren’t even given the chance to apply to many jobs. There is a dire need for alternatives to prison.

The problems causing these pockets of society are many… but lack of opportunity encompasses them all well.

Poverty is the worst form of violence.

-Gandhi

Communities pay the price of mass incarceration.

In the Southeast Community of Colorado Springs there are 94,000 people, it holds 21% of City’s population, it also holds: 

  • Nearly quadruple the unemployment rate when compared with the rest of the city - (12% SE vs. approx. 3% Colorado Springs)
  • 42% of the city’s poor children.
  • 37% of the city’s poor residents.
  • 42% of city’s gang incidents (growing statistic)
  • It has the most violent intersection in the entire state of Colorado with the highest number of violent criminal activity.
  • 21% of the city’s population produces only 8.5% of the new small business licenses.