|Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report|
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: September 19, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – When Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater spoke to the Institute of Interfaith Dialog midday luncheon Wednesday at the Raindrop Turkish House, he made it incredibly clear that many children in our state are in great peril.
In peril of being abused. In peril of not getting a good education. In peril of dropping out of school. In peril of joining a violence-prone gang or worse. In peril of going to jail or ending up dead before their time.
It’s pretty grim out there for a lot of children, largely because of a vicious generational cycle that many thousands are caught in. One or more parents are incarcerated. They end up in foster care and don’t have, as Prater called it, a “homebase,” where they can feel safe and secure.
Unfortunately, Prater said, Oklahomans embrace the “insane,” meaning many prefer to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
“It’s absurd,” Prater said with firmness in his voice.
With many of our citizens in jail, Prater said children follow the footsteps of their parents. He said there are as many as 26,106 children in the state affected by the fact that one or more of their parents are incarcerated.
“And if you have a parent in prison, it’s more likely for you to have a child end up prison,” he said.
What to do? Prater was very straightforward with his solution: “Protect the nuclear family.”
“They need a mother and a father. They need to learn about love and respect,” he said.
“I know this is fluffy-type stuff for a DA to be talking about but we have to protect the nuclear family. That’s the silver bullet. That’s it,” he said.
But, between 2011 and 2012, the number of Oklahoma children in foster care had gone up by 1,000.
“We are absolutely going in the wrong direction,” Prater said, adding that we are also seeing a “huge spike in domestic-related murders” with “one spouse killing the other.”
It was clear that Prater was being very serious about his statistics and information and that these stats were very troubling. He went on to say that at the core of many of the problems facing these broken families is substance abuse – drug and alcohol abuse to one degree or the other.
There was also the “generational crime” issue, with Prater noting that “great-grandfathers” are still in prison, having come to Oklahoma in the early 1980’s to be part of the drug trafficking operations in this city.
Prater said it was “immoral” that drug abuse in this country was further fueling the drug-cartel-related violence in neighboring Mexico and until that issue was addressed in a serious way, things would likely get worse.
“There’s still so much dope moving through here, we’ve hardly put a dent in it,” he said, adding that federal agencies are helping state and local agencies fight the illegal narcotics trade.
Prater was on a roll by this point, adding that the “clowns” at 23rd and Lincoln weren’t doing enough to address the real problems facing Oklahoma.
“You don’t always have to talk about guns, God and abortion,” thundered Prater. “It’s absurd.”
Prater highlighted how the black community in Oklahoma is most adversely affected by these social ills of drugs and crime and incarceration and violence.
Prater called it “self-inflicted genocide.”
“Unfortunately, it’s young black men on young black men and they’re destroying each other,” he said.
With illiteracy rates among young people – particularly minorities – being as high as they are, the future is often bleak. Many look for a way out and the gangs are often the only way to get money and prestige in their niche group.
But, Prater said, that means either prison or an early death. Gang members in their late 20’s who are still running around are considered practically elderly. And while Prater has had a meeting with Crips and Bloods as recently as a few years ago, he was told that the DA’s office and the police wouldn’t be able to stop the violence. It would have to come from within their own ranks. And they admitted to Prater that they too are tired of the violence.
Some solutions Prater offered the group included mentoring children and even adopting children. He also suggested people talk to their legislators and urge them to seriously address these issues.
Urged Prater: “Engage with a child. Do anything you to make it easier for a child.”
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report