“There’s too many cracks in the structure”

A follow-up piece on Nick Carbone, the man who was mugged on his way to breakfast a few weeks ago, is the headline story of the Courant today. The most interesting parts, of course, got buried toward the end of the story, so I’m going to highlight them here:

On the morning of his attack, Carbone said, he was thinking through how state lawmakers could assist people losing their homes because of predatory lending practices and subprime lending. The subject was one of the many issues Carbone has taken on in recent years. He has also been a significant player in the federal court dispute between city officials and citizens who have complained about police brutality.

His attack has not left him bemoaning his fate, but instead thinking about the root causes [bold in quoted material is mine, for emphasis] of urban pathology.

For about two hours Monday, Carbone focused his conversation with a reporter on factors that he thinks have fueled urban violence: predatory lenders; teenage pregnancy; incarceration; the release of inmates into the city by the state Department of Correction; failing schools and judicial systems.

“The issue that concerns me is the city is getting poorer. The systems created to deal with poverty in the city are outdated. I think my attack was random.

There’s a correlation between violence and poverty,” said Carbone. “We’ve created a social service system that is dysfunctional. If we had had proper systems dealing with these kids in first and second grades, they wouldn’t become so hardened.”

Who’s to blame?

“The individuals who beat up on me [participated] in a violent and inexcusable crime. I’m not the only person this happens to. It happens systematically every day. We failed to address the pressing needs. Violent crime is happening in too many communities. There’s too many cracks in the structure. We’ve got schools that don’t work. I’ve watched it for too many years. I know it’s broken. Not to blame the system is a misdirected play,” Carbone said.

“The act itself to me is senseless. I can’t be mad at everyone in the world. I believe the entire system is broken. Until we have the guts to change it, people are going to fall between the cracks.”

Carbone said he escaped feeling like a victim by his interpretation of what the word means. “You become a victim when you let the event control you. I believe as a country we are in deep trouble. We ought to keep focused on the real struggle.”

This is the conversation to be having folks…not, “how has Hartford failed?” or “why is Hartford a problem?,” but “how are the systemic issues affecting us, wherever we live, and how can we address these problems?” These issues are larger than Hartford, and larger than Connecticut. Lacking updated or functional social programs locally compounds the problems that seem to be trickling down to us from the national level.