MAKING PRISONERS OF OUR CHILDREN:

Walk-way over the Hudson Poughkeepsie NY:

I met Jamal (not his real name) when he was a mere boy attending Poughkeepsie High School, like so many boys his age he came to the Barbershop I invested in to get his haircut.

That Barber shop was the new place to be ,it was different than the traditional shops, we had a reception area with television, and a desk complete with a computer, new to the block and the business, I felt it was a good idea to build a data base, and treat our customers differently. Jamal was one of the first kids to come to my shop, I was not a barber but I had a crew of up to six barbers who attracted and took care of our customers. Many of the young boys were raucous, loud, some quite, by and large most of these young black boys were no different than any other group of young men. `Despite what trouble some of them may have been involved in one thing was certain, these young men were absolutely respectful to me and the crew which worked with me. None was more respectful or more quite than Jamal.

I unofficially mentored these young men who would listen ,never-failing to point out to them that there are pitfalls that are strategically laid for them, policies designed specifically to get them into the criminal justice system and keep them there.

All the kids listened some applied what they heard, some didn’t, some are in prison, a few of them have been killed, some are doing fine.

Jamal joined the State Guard after graduating from Poughkeepsie High School, he also enrolled in Dutchess Community College, he confided in me that he would like to be a Minister of Religion. He was also actively engaged in the local Seventh Day Adventist Church. Most of all, Jamal was proud to have  a girlfriend.

Two days ago Jamal walked into my business-place and told me he just got out of Jail after a week. I was stunned, Jail and Jamal were two words I would never put in the same sentence. He explained that he got into a verbal spat with his girlfriend and he tossed her cellphone and kicked her car, he admitted he was wrong.

She did what women today do! She called the police.

he was arrested , she obtained an order of protection against him.

He was  angry , but nothing made him more angry than the shackles they placed on his legs. He said to me “leg irons Mike”!.

He was charged with malicious destruction of property, public mischief, and of course the police piled on two more charges, which the judge promptly and correctly tossed. They are offering him a deal.

Get this,…….. for breaking his girlfriend’s phone and kicking her tires, three (3) years probation and thirty (30) days in a state mental facility for evaluation.

This means he will  most likely be discharged dishonorably from the New York State Guard. He will have to quit college, he will forever be seen as a psychiatric case. he will never be able to be a lawyer, judge, or a cop. He will most likely find it difficult to ever get real or meaningful employment, which could potentially turn this quiet decent demure and respectful 22 year old into a career  criminal.

Jamal’s story is the story playing out  in countless communities all across America.  Young black boys are not allowed to make mistakes.  The system is making criminals out of good kids, the same mistakes cops, lawyers and judges made in their younger years.

I write about this because this is a good kid who did not deserve this kind of treatment. The horror stories are the same day in day out, girl gets mad, she calls the cops , guy gets arrested, nobody takes a look to see if these complaints are all legit or are some of these women using the system at their leisure?

Domestic violence is a serious problem, as a police officer I saw and dealt with it first-hand. No one’s interest is served when one party uses the system to club the other, it builds resentment and anger, and will have devastating consequences in the future.