Letter to the editor: Stopping injustice
To the editor:
A recent Journal-World article about the County Commission’s public forum at the fairgrounds did not catch, or at least express, what happened. Yes, citizens spoke about policy and the need for a mental health crisis center. Some spoke about the regressiveness of sales taxes and others about the unfairness of holding the crisis center hostage to jail expansion. The commissioners appeared to take it all in with stoic face and good grace.
But that is not a sufficient report of what I witnessed. I saw anger and frustration with intractable racism from an underclass that is being repressed by an unjust legal system. The shooting the day before by Lawrence Police of a black man following a “click-it or ticket” traffic stop was on the minds of many. And we cannot ignore the recent racism of Roseanne Barr’s tweet that Valerie Jarrett is the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.”
We are jailing too many people, and we jail most of them simply because they are poor. And by jailing them and running them through the criminal justice system we damage them economically, and stigmatize and traumatize, making it harder for them to be what democracy needs: citizens.
I came to the forum already believing that the first solution for jail overcrowding is limiting the use of jails to those who are dangerous. I left the meeting convinced that jailing people solely because they are too poor to post a bond is a terrible injustice that must stop.