Letter to the editor: OK to weaken our city’s laws?

To the editor:

Most parents discover that one of the hardest lessons to teach children is that actions have consequences. While often painful, punishing a disobedient child is sometimes necessary for their welfare. I pondered this when reading about how some city leaders “aim to decriminalize poverty” (Sept. 8 Journal-World).

I think it’s wrong to claim that poverty leads to criminal behavior, and that therefore, since so many of our fellow citizens have fallen on hard times, we need to relax certain laws to accommodate poor behavior. My experience suggests otherwise: Bad behavior often leads to poverty, and looking the other way when laws are broken will only make things worse.

Officials should ask themselves how far they are willing to go in looking the other way when laws are broken. OK if the homeless person shoplifts to get groceries or takes your car/bike for transport? OK if they set up their tent in your front yard or drive without a license or insurance?  OK if they take over sheltered areas in parks, making them unusable for others?

Officials are charged with caring for the common good. While care for the poor is important for the common good, it should not come at the expense of laws that help to make Lawrence safe and comfortable. I would suggest that rather than weakening city laws, Lawrence officials should come up with plans whereby the homeless and poor can do their share in providing for the common good (that is, work).  

Ray Finch,



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