Pubdate: Fri, 28 Dec 2001
Source: Hattiesburg American (MS)
Copyright: 2001 Hattiesburg American
Author: Sister Saidah Bey
Bookmark: (Treatment)


To jail or rehabilitate? This is the question that is being asked by many 
members of our society. As taxpayers, we should have some suggestions - and 
some consideration - when it comes to spending our money. I am a very 
concerned - and active - citizen in the community, and I am writing this to 
all public defenders as well as trial court judges in our local areas. For 
many years, young people have been sentenced to "life" or "life without 
parole." It is now time for you to stop wasting our tax dollars. You, our 
public servants, are being paid by us to not only defend (the accused) but 
also to make certain that our children get the best defense that we can 
give them. You represent all of us who cannot afford to pay a large sum of 
money to hire lawyers from outside law firms. You are our paid attorneys if 
our children happen to make a childish and silly mistake that involves the 
legal system.

How can it be determined whether the youngster will become a criminal in 
his adult years, or if he or she will become a productive asset to the 

The answer is to apply common sense. We must rehabilitate our children, as 
many as we possibly can. Everyone deserves a second chance at some point in 
his or her life, and "life in prison" is not the answer.

Just because we cannot afford an outside attorney, don't ever think that we 
love our children any less than anybody else. Freedom is everybody's job.

Create more programs for rehabilitation and build fewer jails for young 
people, including those who are considered hard-core offenders. In all 
fairness, 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds cannot be given life.

Rehabilitation must be the first priority.

Sister Saidah Bey, Laurel
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