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People on parole need support, not harassment

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Tuesday’s editorial, “When Arresting Parole Violators is Right — or Wrong,” ignores the elephant in the room: racism. Arrests, convictions and prison sentences all disproportionately impact young black men. Chicago’s extreme racial segregation means that those most likely to be on parole are going to live in a few select neighborhoods. Often these young men even live on the same block — what have been termed “Million Dollar Blocks” because of the cost of incarceration of people who live there. Police label virtually any young black man living in those neighborhoods as a gang member — often without any real evidence.

When prisoners are released on parole, they have no jobs and no money. They are dependent on family for housing. As a result, the vast majority have little choice but to return to the same neighborhood they lived in prior to their imprisonment. As a result, those neighborhoods are saturated with people on parole.

As Mick Dumke’s original article pointed out, not one of these arrests has led to anyone being returned to prison — presumably because there is no proof of the alleged violation, or because the prison authorities do not consider innocent social contact a reason to imprison someone. Criminalizing living in a neighborhood with a high number of parolees and people who the police have labeled as gang members simply gives police yet another pretext for harassing young black men.

When people are released from prison, what they need is support and opportunity — not additional harassment by police.

Megan Groves,
director of development & communications,
Uptown People’s Law Center

Congressman in hiding

As a millennial and a constituent of Rep. Peter Roskam in the Illinois 6th Congressional District, I am disheartened by his refusal to hold a town hall.

The election of President Donald Trump made me realize it was time to get active in support of the causes I believe in deeply, such as fighting climate change and social inequality. Staff at my congressman’s office have told me he is not a climate change believer, denier, or skeptic. So I’m left with no sense of his true position on this critical issue. I’ve participated in his telephone events, which allow him to recite talking points without dialogue, and I’m discouraged.

But I refuse to be silent. So I’ve joined grass-roots groups in my area to participate in protests and learn to knock on doors in my neighborhood. I want to make sure that Peter Roskam’s constituents stop letting him off the hook and letting him hide from those with whom he disagrees.

Reid McCollum, Hinsdale

Make aldermen’s homes available

So, Ald. David Moore wants to force all private enterprise that is open to the public to provide unlimited public bathroom access on their premises.

Well, I suggest we start with every elected government official making their home available for this purpose first. After all they are paid by the public to serve the public.

It’s always curious that government officials who have often never run a private enterprise and so often do a horrific job running the public enterprise feel qualified to mandate how businesses should be run.

Earl Weiss, Uptown

Priest adoption

The April 24, 2017 article “George Clements: One-time celebrity priest looks back at 60 Years” states Father Clements “in 1980 became the first Catholic Priest to adopt a child.” While Father Clements can be complimented for this adoption, he was not the first. In 1969, Father Peter Kolton adopted a boy named Mitchell. I recall meeting Father Kolton and Mitchell in San Antonio, Texas. Father Kolton was quite proud of his young son and showed me the letter he received from President Lyndon Johnson complimenting him on his adopting a young boy.

Father Peter Kolton, a Silesian priest, was born June 29, 1910 in Zalosce, Poland. He was ordained Dec. 16, 1958 in Rome, Italy. In 1966 he built a museum and shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa at 138 Beethoven St. in San Antonio, Texas. He passed away April 26, 1981.

Joseph W. Zurawski, Park Ridge