“Don’t Shoot”

I recently finished reading an interesting Criminal Justice book: Don’t Shoot.  I was a Criminal Justice and Criminology student so I found it illuminating.  David Kennedy tells his story over the period of several years as he works to end street violence and homicide in dangerous cities all over the US.  His program was largely successful, even though (for a myriad of reasons) most cities didn’t think it would work.  When it did work, an unfortunate number of cities stopped putting forth the effort and their homicide rates jumped right back up.

There were a few particularly interesting facts raised, one was:

The Supreme Court of the United States, Dred Scott, 1856: ‘The Black man has no rights which the White man is bound to respect’…[The 13th Amendment, Section 1]…There’s no slavery in the United States.  Unless you’re in jail or prison.  To this day.  If you’re in prison, your labor can be forced.

I don’t mean to get race involved (since it tends to make White people uncomfortable) but I will anyway.  The fact that the Supreme Court once ruled (admittedly a long time ago) that the Black man effectively has no rights was not so much surprising as it was saddening.  Also, I didn’t know that while the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, it also left forced labor as a potential consequence of incarceration.

At another point in the book, the author describes Jim Summey, a hard-core preacher.  He continually confronted the drug dealers and drunks in the immediate area even though…

The streets shouted back.  They shot fifty-eight windows out of Jim’s church, threw a brick through a widow of his house, slashed his tires over and over, put rounds through his car.  Jim started carrying a gun.

This is a powerful example of a regular person standing up for what they believe is right no matter what the consequences might be.  If drug dealers shot out just two of my windows and slashed my tires once, I’d probably leave them alone.  Jim Summey and his enemies are of a much higher calibre than I am.

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“Don’t Shoot”