Martin luther king’s dream did not include children imprisoned for life

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Published by GreaterLongBeach.com on January 17, 2012, in commemoration of Dr. King's birthday, Lydia A. Hollie, JD/MAED, questions what would Martin Luther King, Jr. think about life incarceration for the nation's children?

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Martin luther king’s dream did not include children imprisoned for life

  1. 1. 8/20/12 MARTIN LUTHER KING’S DREAM DID NOT INCLUDE CHILDREN IMPRISONED FOR LIFE | GreaterLongBea… MARTIN LUTHER KING’S DREAM DID NOT INCLUDE CHILDREN IMPRISONED FOR LIFE By Lydia A. Ho llie January 16, 2012 Essays & Asides “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During this day of reflection on the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my memory has led me to an e-mail I recently received from Javier Stauring of the Healing Justice Co alitio n, which again illuminated the dark fact that the United States and Somalia have the only judicial systems in the international community that sentence their children to life imprisonment without parole. A Roman Catholic lay chaplain for incarcerated youth, Stauring is an internationally known advocate for restorative justice and against the U.S. practice of consigning its youth to ho peless lives behind bars. I met Stauring two years ago during my studies at the USC Institute for Violence Prevention. Through his advocacy, we examined and learned about this nation’s treatment of its children as reflected in the various policies it has adopted to detain them indefinitely—rather than construct environments where a child’s humanity is respected and caring adults are available to help children successfully navigate through the vicissitudes of life. Today, as we consider King’s perspective on the value of our shared humanity,greaterlongbeach.com/16/01/2012/martin-luther-kings-dream-did-not-include-children-imprisoned-for-life 1/3
  2. 2. 8/20/12 MARTIN LUTHER KING’S DREAM DID NOT INCLUDE CHILDREN IMPRISONED FOR LIFE | GreaterLongBea… Stauring’s e-mail is a painful reminder of the extreme vulnerability of children—the ease by which they are maligned by our society and our nation’s willingness to discard their future rather than invest the appropriate time and resources to secure it. King rightly observed that “whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” Ostensibly, the purpose of our work in the field of youth violence prevention and intervention is to influence and reconfigure the sociological, political and economic landscape so that the future of a parent’s daughter or son is never destined for imprisonment for any reason. Therefore, as long as one child prisoner enters and remains in this nation’s prisons, jails, probation camps, in its law enforcement and welfare databases or under the jurisdiction of its courts or bureaucracies, our society will never be all that it ought to be. So how do we demonstrate respect for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, and in the process, measure up to his standard for service to humanity? How do we avoid making a mockery of what he and others endured and died for? Rev. King’s response is succinct and unambiguous, “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” Reducing violence and saving lives are embedded in restored neighborhoods and revitalized communities. Looking ahead at this new year, I believe the Long Beach community can bring honor to King and his legacy of genuine service to humanity in three important ways: • Raise the bar of community awareness and effective engagement in the politicalgreaterlongbeach.com/16/01/2012/martin-luther-kings-dream-did-not-include-children-imprisoned-for-life 2/3
  3. 3. 8/20/12 MARTIN LUTHER KING’S DREAM DID NOT INCLUDE CHILDREN IMPRISONED FOR LIFE | GreaterLongBea… process to advance community-driven initiatives; • Hold the community as well as the political and economic establishment accountable for decisions that adversely impact neighborhood quality of life; • Increase obstacles to incarceration (through strengthened partnerships and collaborations) by decreasing risk factors that infringe upon the ability of children and their families to thrive and prosper in peace. Lydia A. Hollie, JD, MAED, is the past co-chair of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services’ Weed and Seed Steering Committee (2007- 2011); past chair of the Long Beach CalGRIP (Transition, 2009); past chair of the Long Beach Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Task Force (2005- 2009); past chair of the Long Beach Human Relations Commission (2001-2003). Read more: child incarceratio n, GreaterLo ngBeach.co m, Healing Justice Co alitio n, Javier Stauring, Jr., Lo ng Beach, Lydia Ho llie, Martin Luther King, Rev, witho ut paro le Read more by Lydia A. Ho llie Copyright © 2012 GreaterLongBeach.comgreaterlongbeach.com/16/01/2012/martin-luther-kings-dream-did-not-include-children-imprisoned-for-life 3/3

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