Letters to the Editor

Laws that damage

In the commentary titled, “Police shooting in S.C. not like Ferguson’s,” the author highlights an important distinction between the tragic deaths of two black men at the hands of the police. The author asserts there is a difference between the tragedy of a death from an altercation between an officer and an individual who committed a robbery, and the South Carolina case of an officer shooting and killing a person who was fleeing when stopped for having a broken taillight.

I was struck by the wisdom of the author, Peter Moskos, a former police officer and now professor of criminal justice, who suggested that a way to “reduce potentially deadly arrest situations is to stop criminalizing so many people.” He suggests “softening and changing laws in ways that do not jeopardize public safety.”

Excessive fines, for example, penalize the poor. Minor vehicular violations could be handled differently. And fines should never escalate to the point where people can be jailed for being poor.

It is a pleasure to see practical ideas for making a difference. I hope many people read the article and support changing the laws that bring so much damage and so little reward.