Posts Tagged ‘part of the problem’

A young man I worked with just got out of prison. The parole board placed some restrictions on him and he was to live in a halfway house for a period of time.

This young man was always quiet and never spoke his piece. In writing class, he wrote an amazing piece on courage which won him a prison writing contest.

I followed his story in the newspapers, and I asked him once why the media never portrayed his side of the story. He just shrugged. From previous conversations I knew that he was very sorry for what he had done to another man in a post-teen brawl. The two sides had been fighting, and both were to blame. But this young man stepped over the line and severely injured another.

Despite his action, he tried to change, and worked toward solving problems in other ways besides violence. But he was so extremely quiet. “Tell the Board, tell the media how sorry you are,” I would say. But he said nothing.

When he got out, the local paper played to the lowest group of their readers and recalled the fight and what he had done. The conclusion the media wanted us to do was either hide in our basements or scream to keep people in prison for life.

I wrote a letter to the editor complaining about the tone of the article. The reporter got back to me by email and that was good. He/she said they had contacted the parole board and the prison authorities for their information. I wrote back and asked if they had contacted the young man himself, even though I already knew they hadn’t.

Some things were missing from the news story:

  • the whole thing we used to talk about, paying your debt to society
  • the young man’s side of the story
  • a news story to help the young man in this very difficult time of adjustment – getting out of prison, something like ‘Young Man Tries to Build a New Life.’

In regard to prisons and crime, today’s media is part of the problem, not part of the answer, or so I think.

What is your opinion?