Letters for January 9, 2003

Remove the Bars

 This guy did it... so let him vote! I want to thank Wyatt Olson for the informative article that appeared in the December 26 New Times ("Barred for Life"). I am one of those people who was under the impression that once I served my time for my crimes, I would have paid my debt to society. This does not seem to be the case. Even though I have mended my ways and am rehabilitated, I still must overcome the stigma of being a felon, and to deny me the chance to fully integrate myself back into society with full rights sends the wrong message.

For 18 years of my life, I was homeless. I was addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine. I committed crimes that were neither violent nor profitable; they were crimes of survival and addiction. For charges that included petty larceny, loitering, public intoxication, resisting arrest without violence, and possession of one marijuana cigarette, I am now labeled a convicted felon.

For the past five years, I have been a model citizen. This is not a boast. Members of my community will stand by me and attest to this. These people include city officials, CEOs, professional people, and ordinary citizens. My life has changed completely.

I came from a broken home and started to experiment with drugs and alcohol at an early age. I became a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict by the time I was 21 years old. From that point on, my life held no promise, purpose, or direction. I lived day to day in poverty and despair.

I enrolled in a program at the Broward Outreach Center on December 28, 1998, my birthday. I wanted a new start on life. I came to terms with my past and decided to live for my future instead.

Not long ago, I graduated from Sheridan Technical Center in Hollywood with a certificate as an administration assistant. I then went on to college prep classes. I am now a second-year business major. And I have become a homeowner and am employed by the BOC as a volunteer coordinator.

I have faced many challenges and have overcome many obstacles, but I can change only myself. I cannot change the misconceptions people harbor when they hear the word felon. I have gone beyond my debt to society, and I am now giving society my experience as a teacher. I travel to area high schools and inform the students of the consequences of wrong choices and tell them that they must be in control of their lives. But more than that, I teach them that even if you make mistakes in life, it is never too late to change.

James L. Coleman

Pompano Beach

Watch out, John Poindexter; we have your number: Great article, dudes. I worked for the ACLU last year in downtown Fort Lauderdale on the voting-rights restoration project (abcnews.go.com

Funny how the "Gov" takes care of "his own," isn't it? This clown helped the government cover up a major crime and is free to help select the Republican of his choice, where the folks who are just workin' stiffs get the shaft. Kind of says it all.

Isn't it ironic that Adm. John Poindexter, a felon, was recently given control of assembling the most powerful database ever conceived, at the Pentagon, and the object of your article can't get a simple license?

Glenn Wilson

Hollywood

Form a committee? Tag, you're it: In what promised to be an insightful look into supposed racist activities in the City of Plantation, Bob Norman's December 26 piece ("Down on the Plantation III") levels one personal snipe after another, buttressed only by innuendo and rumor, at past and present city officials.

Mr. Norman fails to recognize the current administration's successful community revitalization efforts along the State Road 441 corridor. More troubling, other than champion the calls of two unsuccessful council candidates (Messrs. Hillier and Petrocelli), Norman fails to direct his heretofore astute journalistic craft toward an examination of the critics' claims. As an example, Norman promotes Mr. Rico Petrocelli as a viable "outside" candidate for the Plantation City Council. Yet, Norman does not inquire why Mr. Petrocelli, as a member of the PAL executive committee, failed to exercise his considerable authority to remedy the supposedly "racist" conduct.

Furthermore, it has always been my understanding that all PAL tryouts are posted in the Sun-Sentinel and the Herald. Perhaps Mr. Norman would care to attack the circulation practices of these local papers as being racially biased?

Moreover, the article fails to provide detailed information from those community members (like myself) involved in city [youth] sponsored sporting activities -- who consistently provide transportation to and from sporting events for kids whose parents can't make it to a game. I never saw this as a "racial" issue but rather as a parent-working issue.

I would have been more interested in Mr. Norman's series had he actually provided a solution to the supposed problem, such as a community action committee, workshop or the like involving all interested Plantation citizens. The article could have spurred Plantation to really determine whether a problem exists, and if so, how best to fix it. Instead, Norman simply acted as a front for two failed candidates who would apparently like to fire up a portion of the community with rumors and innuendo. It's like shouting "Fire!" in a crowded room.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...