Monday, September 28, 2009

Sins of the Father

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I received a link to a story on Sara Kruzan.

At first, I was shocked that a youngster so young would be jailed for the rest of their life for taking the life of another.

Then, I was in tears.

If this is not the epitome of what we go through in Black America, I don’t know what is.

Ms. Kruzan’s story is filled with all of the worst that we must overcome as Americans and African-Americans. We have a generation of young people (now going on 2-3 generations) that have been impacted by adults (including parents) that have damaged their lives (as well as their children’s lives) with addiction, be it sex, drugs, or gambling, or alcohol. It is also filled with a crisis that is killing the youth of our children: the sexualization (and eventual abuse) of our young people. Mrs. Kruzan’s tragic journey from honor roll to Hollywood strolls is one that we do not pay enough attention to until it is too late.

And, subsequently, we suffer the consequences as a society as we watch our talent rot in jails, in depressive states, and in conditions that stifle their talents, not promote them.

Many under the ages of 18.

Which is why if there is anything the Congressional Black Caucus can work on as a group over the course of this upcoming weekend, it is putting pressure on states to institute policies to bring some sanity to our states’ court systems. In addition to there being too many Black men and women in our correctional institutions (which is a community-problem, not a law-based problem in most regards), there is a problem with inappropriate sentences in the cases of our children (which, when giving life without the possibility of parole to our children – including children that were raped and pimped out by adults twice their ages) when there is clear evidence that they can be rehabilitated – which, by the way, is the purpose of prison for the majority of prisoners, between worthy punishment and opportunity to rehabilitate.

Ms. Kruzan killed her abuser. There is a penalty for playing God, but is there a penalty too stiff for our young people, those that had been on the right path before the “sins of our fathers” prompted them to a tragic detour?

Ms. Kruzan was once an honors student. Others were caught up in drugs because their parents had done the same, leading them down the wrong path. Do we really need to lock away people that made mistakes in their teens until they hit AARP?

We need a better system of sentencing for our youth, especially those that are coming from at-risk situations including abuse. Being poor is not a reason to kill someone in cold blood, but to kill the man that raped you, abused you, and pimped you out seems to be a situation that forces us to re-evaluate the abuse and pain that young people endure before taking such drastic actions.

I know that the conservative viewpoint is to say that “if you do the crime, you must do the time.” For a 25-year-old that makes the choice to sling dope, then kill others – I concur. Being poor isn’t enough – I’ve been poor, with a child, needing items for my baby. I worked and struggled, but never broke the law to do it and certainly did not kill anyone in the process. At the same time, we already know that we have a clear discrepancy between the sentencing for Black youth and others when it comes to long-term punishments for crimes committed during their youth.

We need to have that addressed by Black leadership if we are going to have a chance to rehabilitate a generation that some call “lost.” There are not lost, but we are losing them to abuse, “mis-education”, and crime – both as perpetrators as well as victims. Sadly, more often than not with this generation, our youth are becoming actors in both camps, a growing reality that must prompt the CBC and others to deal with the front end (Black youths getting inappropriate sentences) as well as the back end (i.e., how to keep our youth from going down the wrong paths in the first place) before an epidemic within the community is captured in an epitaph of the community.

No comments:

Post a Comment