The Need For Respect & The Dumb Decisions That Often Follow

The son of a good friend of mine was recently arrested and charged with armed robbery.  He's 19. He was with a friend (also 19) that had an illegal gun and that friend pulled the gun on someone and robbed him.  My friend's son did not conduct the robbery BUT he was there, he knew his friend was going to rob someone AND he was driving the car they used to "get away", so that makes him an accessory to the crime.  Not good.  In Florida, an armed robbery conviction with a weapon is a felony in the first degree and is punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison.  I'm hopeful that given this is his first offense and the fact that he didn't actually hold the gun and commit the robbery, maybe he will be shown some amount of leniency. 

Unfortunately, if this kid is convicted and goes to prison, he will emerge with many years ahead of him but with one major problem, he'll be a convicted felon.  Sadly, at that point he's pretty much fucked for the rest of his life.  For example, when applying for almost any job he will get the inevitable question, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"  You and I both know that lying isn't an option because the background check will reveal all and by saying yes you might as well toss the application in the trash can yourself.

This young man is black and as many people know, our judicial system often tends to throw the book at young black men.  Especially those involved in crimes that involve a weapon.  This is not opinion it is a fact.  Having said that, we can not forget that in most cases, these young men are consciously MAKING BAD DECISIONS THAT ARE GETTING THEM ARRESTED IN THE FIRST PLACE.  Lets not get it twisted by conveniently forgetting their culpability in there incarceration.

Every year, about 700,000 people are released from prisons in the United States.  Research shows that 40% of those released end up back behind bars within 3 years.  To better understand how and why this happens let's take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  In his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation", Abraham Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people and he proposed the idea that people are motivated to achieve certain needs more than they are motivated by rewards or desires. 

Maslow's hierarchy is most commonly shown as a pyramid that has five levels.  The needs that are the most critical to human survival are at the bottom and they decrease in life threatening criticallity as you move up the stack. 

At the base level, are Physiological Needs.  Without the ability to meet these basic needs, human survival is not possible.  These include air, water, sleep and food at a base level and they progress upwards to include clothing and shelter/protection from the elements and finally progress to include sexual fulfillment and reproduction.  Physiological needs are for obvious reasons the most important needs of all.

Moving up the stack and looking at Esteem Needs, you start to see the need for self respect and the respect of others.  The base need for respect is a powerful driver for any man.  Especially black men and other minorities.   When you consider a group of people that have historically been discriminated against, oppressed, self respect and the respect of others starts to take on an unhealthy importance. I truly belief that the desire for respect is one of the primary reasons why so many young men are locked up.