As the West Virginia Economic Justice Project addresses prison overcrowding on a policy level, the Appalachian Center for Equality Youth Leadership Program explores the racial and economic injustices of the prison industrial complex and the impact this has on their lives. After reading Wahid's story in the Fall 2012 edition of AFSC's South Star and examining the facts of mass incarceration, we attended the Annual Bill of Rights dinner of the American Civil Liberties Union West Virginia chapter. The keynote speaker was journalist Alan Elsner who spoke on the topic, "Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons." At one point he said, "I only half-jokingly say that we should be sending people to college, not prison." We wrote letters to the Governor about the injustices of the prison system, here is one of them:
In my opion our state should stop spending so much money on the prisions.And should start spending more money in the community.The fact that 1 in every 15 black males age 18 an older is incarcerrated is unfair.I think the the best way to keep people out of jail is to do a program for gang members and other people. And i hope people change there mind about spending more money on our prisions.
Skyler Clemons, 9th grade