I write fairly extensively about the evils of mass incarceration, and the damage done to particularly black and brown neighborhoods by this pernicious practice. Locking up non-violent drug offenders simply makes no sense and takes up needed bed space.
But with that said, there are cases when individuals need to be isolated from society — incarcerated — for the safety of the citizenry, and for their own good. I’m speaking about two of the young men who have been charged in the shooting death of 9-year-old Saniyah Nicholson.
The two young men who have been charged as adults have extensive criminal histories. Devontae Nettles, 19, has been convicted of felonious assault, robbery, aggravated rioting, intimidating a victim or witness to a crime, breaking and entering, and possessing stolen property. Ce’Matizea Andrews, also 19, was convicted of robbery when he was a 12-year-old boy and went on to be convicted of another robbery, breaking and entering, assault, burglary, harassment by an inmate, escape, domestic violence, vandalism and felonious assault. He was also listed as a victim and witness in a gang case in 2014.
These were — are — buck-wild motherfuckers who should have already been behind bars, and at this moment I can guarantee you they are not the least bit remorseful for what they have done, for the life they helped to take. Those kinds of feelings won’t set in until they have been behind bars for around three years. After they’ve been in 10 years they will wake up one morning and think, “What the fuck did I do to jack off my entire life?” But even though they have come to their senses, they still will have another 20 or 30 years left to step off.
So, for all means and purposes, their lives are essentially over before they ever really got the chance to begin. We simply must do a better job of raising children so they don’t turn into such monsters.
Wouldn’t it have been better for them, and society, if the justice system — once it realized that parenting had failed in their cases and they were monsters — had done them both a favor by locking them up for five or ten years before they killed someone, until they grew out of their criminal ways? At least then they could come home under 30 years of age and still be able to build some kind of a life. Now, their lives are effectively over. Stick a fork into them, they’re done.
But the biggest benefactors of an effective criminal justice system that removes dangerous individuals would have been Saniyah Nicholson, who would still be alive, and her parents, who will probably never stop grieving over their senseless loss of a precious child.
We simply have to crack down on these violent young men. We know who they are, and we know how we should treat them, at least until they grow up and no longer pose a danger to anyone.
A recent coordinated effort by local law enforcement resulted in the arrest of 300 dangerous repeat offenders; maybe we need to arrest 3,000 more if that’s what it takes to assure that we don’t tragically lose any additional 9-year-old honor students.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.