By Arlene Jones
Criminal justice used to involve deterrents. Those were the things that stopped many from committing crimes, simply because we were too scared to face the consequences. Sadly, our politically correct society has everyone coddling the criminal so as to not hurt their feelings, regardless of the havoc those individuals have created. Thus, everyone else is expected to bear the hell that comes with their negative behavior.
I got a chance this past Monday to hear part of a town hall meeting convened at WVON 1690 AM's Legacy Room to discuss the murder of Hidaya Pendleton. Of course, the usual players were present and they offered the obligatory, "This is the problem …" speeches without a corresponding, "This is the solution" response. And, of course, after two or more hours of that, frustrations are vented and little else. Boy, how I wished I had the opportunity to participate in such a public forum. I guarantee my offerings would have been 180 degrees from those I heard.
I would have said that the time is definitely here for law-abiding members of the black community to take a stance: First, hit the enablers of the criminals to pay for the crimes of those they harbor. No more can we worry about who all it affects in the criminal's family, seeing that the criminal doesn't worry about affecting the families of everyone else.
Now trust me, I have seen good people with wayward folks in their families make lightweight attempts to address those individuals' bad behavior. But therein lies the problem. Telling that person once or twice not to do something while being too busy to enforce the meaning of the warning means that when it comes time to decide to engage in criminal activities, that young person doesn't have forceful warnings ringing in their heads to stop before they start.
An example is the recent case of Michael Ward, who is accused of shooting Hidaya. His aunt is quoted in the paper as claiming that he is "not some kind of big criminal." From her statement, we can see the problem. All crimes are crimes. And as a family member who overlooks the small crimes, she gets upset when that criminal element is finally caught and charged with a serious crime. We therefore need to have the kind of intolerance to deal with the petty crimes harshly so the major crimes — like shooting, killing and maiming — don't happen.
If one is allowing that person to stay in their house, then they are co-conspirators who should face the loss of government entitlements like food stamps. If they are living in a government-subsidized building, they should risk the loss of that living space, or money.
We have had years of seeing what inactivity does. It has bred young people who have nothing better to do than drive around looking for someone to shoot. Worst of all, it has created parents who look the other way because dealing with their wayward children is too much of a hassle.
I'd also like to see people lose their ability to claim any dependents on their income taxes. They can't get unearned income tax credits. We also need to hold those parents criminally responsible for their young people's behavior. And being an "absentee" father won't let you get away because you were once a participatory father when you had the sex act to create the child.
When we lack deterrents, especially ones that hit people financially and personally, we overlook the main part of the problem.
Desperate times are calling for desperate measures.
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