Meridian Star

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September 15, 2013

Getting a handle on things!

MERIDIAN —     A month into the new school year, students in Meridian Public School District are under a new disciplinary policy designed to prevent unnecessary suspensions and expulsions. The whole while, our newly elected city officials are trying to deter the scourge of any community and law enforcement agency; trying to prevent the high rate of burglaries and other crimes from continuing to happen in our neighborhoods: Mainly committed by young adults dealing with the day-to-day fight with poverty.

    We heard the mayor say to the youthful offenders and others, “Stop committing these crimes; you will be caught and going to jail!” Haven’t we heard those same sentiments before? Obviously, the See Something, Say Something Program will deter poverty.  

    The people paid the city and county court officials over $1 million the past four years in fines and fees. How are nearly 25,000 people living below the poverty level in Lauderdale County expected to pay $1 million in fines and fees?

    This is a typical case scenario; I am a convicted felon, high school dropout (push-out), with baby momma drama and child support; now I get caught driving my 1978 Buick Oldsmobile with expired tags and no insurance. The courts say I must pay back (arrears) child support for that year I spent in jail by Friday, and the city judge indicated I must pay half of the amount due in court today for my motor vehicle violations, or I am going to jail today!  

    Now, what are my options? I can’t find a job, due to being a convicted felon and the system requires money!

    Does anybody see something wrong with this picture, and need to say something? Oh, that’s the name of the new program!

    I appreciate Councilwoman Houston for keeping her word regarding the availability and visibility of herself to the constituents of Ward 4. She indicated we would know what she knows, keeping us in the loop!  

    Finally, in conclusion, the NAACP celebrated the March on Washington; honoring that great I have a dream speech by Dr. King. President Obama, fifty-years later on the same steps from which King addressed the march – decried that unemployment for minorities is twice that of whites. Today’s battles over major issues of our day – as in King’s time included equal rights and jobs.  

    The closing words Dr. King spoke was, “When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, especially the molehills of Mississippi, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last, Great God Almighty, We are free at last.”  

    Let us all get a handle of this poverty issues here in Meridian, Mississippi Mr. Mayor?

In Jesus name,

Randle L. Jennings

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