Tuesday, June 16, 2020

It's My Job, 45 Years Too Late

I took every course on Adolescent Development that Cornell's College of Human Ecology had to offer.  Juvenile justice, adult probation, mentoring a high schooler - I was preparing for a career touching the edges of policing, but defined from a social welfare perspective

Deinstitutionalization was the order of the day.  Community Mental Health Centers, with robust outreach efforts, would provide services to those in need, monitoring successes and trying to head off disasters.  Young offenders would be engaged in community based job training and education and service programs, funded by the generosity of the federal government. 

By the time I went on to graduate school, that generosity was no where to be found.  Those CMHC's never materialized.  Those people who had been, and would have been, housed in mental health facilities were now roaming the streets.  Their behaviors were still cause for concern.... and there was no one to answer to call except the police.

Defund the police is such a bad slogan.  I prefer Refund Social Services. 

I've always said that I was born at the right time.  We didn't talk about sex and disease in the same breath.  Our music was (and still is) the best of any generation. But the promise of an open society, constructed to care for the least as well as the most among us, to approach problems from a position of kindness and hope rather than punishment and fear, the reason I did all the reading in all those classes, that never materialized.

Perhaps there is hope.  I'd like to feel regret that I'm missing this opportunity.  I haven't missed my social work license in a long, long time. 

Hope.  That's a feeling I haven't noticed for a while.  I'm going to noodle around with it for a while.


  1. Deinstitutionalization was probably not a bad idea in itself but the promised services did not materialize and police and jails were left as the options. How to pave the road to hell.

  2. Rather than "Defund the Police, I want to Disperse the Duties of Police. I agree that we should have followed that lead of 45 years ago. I was a teacher of young children then, many of whom lived in poverty. We wanted the schools to be a center for gathering communities where social workers and health care providers could make contact. The Community Schools program was started, but it all fizzled. No proper funding, too new and radical, bleeding heart liberal, hippy ideas. Sigh.

  3. Yes. we all watched a good idea collapse in real time.


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