It seemed like a simple calculation, but every time I punched in the numbers, 120 divided by nine, the screen flashed ... Error.... Error.
The calculator understood the math, as I did, but it shook its bright screen the same way I shook my head trying to figure out how nine people, all under 40, accused in the murder of 17-year-old Jamonni Bland on July 5 at the Zodiac Lounge, had accumulated 120 arrest between them.
Be prepared to shake your head, too.
Andre Maurice Bonner - 30 years old, 32 arrests
Miranda Victoria Pettiway 27 years-old, nine arrests
Johnifer Dennard Barnwell - 27 years-old, 10 arrests
Arthur Thomas Freeman III - 27 years-old, six arrests
John Michael Holingshed - 27 years-old, five arrests
Kiyo Latrice Johnson - 30 years-old, 13 arrests
Jarrett Durand Taylor - 27 years-old, eight arrests
Jimmy Lee Scott III - 29 years-old, 22 arrests
Percy Welch Jr. 37 years-old, 15 arrests
Im sure it has happened before, but how do you have more arrests, such as Andre Bonner, than years of life? The basic assumption of most criminals -- that I wont get caught for a crime -- obviously has not worked out for them. However, they must be working on a different paradigm: If caught, I wont get punished.
Where do these criminals come from? I see them everyday. They are more visible when school is in session. I see them walking the streets. As a general rule, their dress is ill-suited for the weather. Early last week when it was blazing hot outside, they were walking with hoodies on either because they didnt want to carry them or had no shirt on under it. Later in the week, they were walking in the rain, no umbrella, sporting only a T-shirt and jeans. All through the week there were those -- school-aged -- who strutted around with no shirt at all with their britches down below their butts. I guess if all I had to my name were a pair of colorful boxer shorts, Id want to show them off, too.
Its obvious these sometimes baby-faced children are supposed to be in somebodys school, but for a myriad of reasons are on our streets looking for a way to survive. Im not blaming the school system, but these future criminals were missed. Their lives have been shouting warnings since kindergarten.
I met a woman and her daughter coming out of Kroger last week. She told me she worked at a prison, I assumed Central State, but there are storage facilities for criminals all over Middle Georgia.
She told me something I already knew, but in a context that was striking. Black inmates cant read, she said. No surprise, right? But she said Latino and white inmates could read, and she repeatedly said white and Latino inmates, even those not born here, passed tests that black inmates could not.
And there was another disturbing aspect to our conversation. She said she had worked at six prisons in her career and in all her experiences shes never faced the disrespect from even white skinheads and Latinos she received from black inmates.
I have a theory about that. Many of the incarcerated were raised by females. At some point early in life, the male child, as most male children do, starts to act too big for their undersized britches. They think they are all that. It takes a formidable woman to stand up to all that testosterone. In normal family structures, fathers are the Alpha Males placed there to curb juniors attitude. Sadly, too many black families lack real men and all the spoiling mothers do to their male children to compensate, is for naught. Rather, it breeds disrespect.
Now we have nine ruined, wasted and unproductive lives, 10 if the victim is included, that are, as poet Curtis Mayfield put it, although in a different context, Just the surface of our dark, deep well.
These nine will probably spend the rest of their days supported by taxpayers or the crimes they will commit once released. Sad.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweeturl xmlns:saxo="http://ns.saxotech.com/SaxoInDesign/2.0/" val="" cls="533815"/>