On the Issues

Jobs Not Jails

President Barack Obama visited a federal penitentiary on Tuesday, the same day Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to make the case for his legislation to hire 1 million young people.

“I applaud President Obama for visiting a federal penitentiary to highlight the fact that, tragically, the United States has more people in jail than any other country on earth and one of the reasons that we have so many people in jail is that we have an obscenely high level of youth unemployment,” Sanders said. “The time has come for us to begin investing in jobs and education for our kids, not jails and incarceration,” he added.

With 4 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. If current trends continue, one in four black males born today is likely to spend time in prison during his lifetime.

Meanwhile, the real unemployment rate for black high school graduates from 17 to 20 years old was 51 percent, according to an Economic Policy Institute. The analysis prepared at Sanders’ request. Also put the jobless figure for Hispanics in the same age group at 36 percent from. For white youths, the rate was 34 percent.

The 44-55 Senate vote on Sanders’ amendment fell short of the 60 votes needed for passage. “I am disappointed but not surprised that so many Republican senators opposed this common-sense approach to dealing with an overlooked national crisis,” Sanders said.

The amendment was modeled on a youth jobs bill Sanders recently introduced to provide $5.5 billion for states and local governments to help find jobs for 1 million young people ages 16 to 24. Closing a loophole that lets billionaires pay a lower tax rate than working-class Americans would have funded the jobs program.