What is fair?

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To the Editor:

Is there any such thing as “fair”?  If there is, who determines what is “fair” and who deserves to be treated “fairly”?

I direct this query to the local law enforcement officers who have the privilege of practicing their power of discretion on a daily basis. I can only speak on personal experiences that I have had with our distinguished men and women in uniform.  Personally, I have never been arrested, but unfortunately I have family members who have their “fair” share of run ins with the law.

But as I write this letter, I’m speaking for all of our young African American males who have records.  Most of which involved incidents that happened when they were younger and have since come to regret .  Not only do they regret it, but they find it hard to move past it due to our fine men in blue or brown.  They find it necessary to remind these youngsters every chance they get that they are being watched (whether they are doing wrong or not).  This does nothing (in my opinion) but create hostility, disrespect and even more damaging a feeling of discouragement, especially in a young person who is trying to do better.  These include ones that have gone back to school or started working because they are tired of being in the system.  They feel like what’s the use of trying when every time they turn around they are being pulled over, frisked or just followed.  This could be very intimidating and disheartening.

I have read and heard on a lot of these TV court shows that the criminal justice system is designed to keep our young black males in the system.  I have been accused of being naive because I was a firm believer that a person makes choices in their life and that they should be responsible for the choices they make, good or bad – right or wrong;  that whatever a person gets it was due to the choice he made.  But now I’m not too sure.

Because I have personal knowledge of people who have made the choice to change and try to improve themselves and their communities, but because of choices they made in the past, are finding it difficult to do.  Now is that “fair”? I say no.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m for law enforcement and the criminal justice system, but it should be “fair”.  I believe that bad people should be arrested, convicted and punished for the crimes they commit.   But once they have done their time, they should be allowed to turn their lives around if they choose to do so without being harassed at every turn.

Cynthia Everette