Let’s fix our problems and keep moving forward

This morning in the mail I received a copy of “The Washington Spectator.” It’s self-supporting. There are no ads. In other words, they are free to express their views because they’re in no one’s pocket.

Because I’m hoping that classrooms are reading this column, I write things that will encourage people to make the right decisions. Remember, you always have the power of choice.

Now, here’s what I have to say about the jail situation in our country. “As of 2010, the U.S. had the world’s largest incarcerated (jail) population, at 1.6 million, and the world’s highest per capita incarceration rate, at 500 inmates per 100,000 residents.”

In the year 2011, more than 95,000 people under the age of 18 were held in adult prisons. There is widespread use of solitary confinement regarding juveniles in adult prisons, often for weeks or months.

The bad news is that this could be some of you young people. The good news is, you don’t have to LET it be you. Be sure you know the law, and that you obey it.

Be especially aware of the laws concerning drugs. Do you know how getting in trouble for drug use or the sale of drugs can ruin your entire life? Once you are caught, your record will follow you forever. You won’t be eligible for certain jobs. You will have to disclose your record to employers, who may choose not to hire you because of your past behavior. You may not be given a chance by your peers, or even a potential partner you like. Other people may not want to get involved with you. How would you support a family if you couldn’t get a good job? Are you ready to live with this stigma your whole life?

Why put yourself through all of theses problems? You can’t afford to go where the road to drugs will take you. You can just say “no” and avoid it all. Talk about this with your parents and with your peers. Talk about ways to avoid the pressure, or “bad scenes” where you might be confronted with drug use. Get your friends on your side. It’s easier when you’re not alone. Be smart.

Now the following information came from “Human Rights Watch.” This shocked me. “Human Rights Watch” found that between 2007 and 2010, the number of sentenced prisoners aged 65 and older grew 94 times faster than the total sentenced prisoner population during that time period. Imagine! So it’s not just about young people. Make sure you tell the adults about this!

We have got to do something about this situation, to make sure fewer people choose lifestyles that will lead to arrest and imprisonment. On top of all these wasted lives, it also costs taxpayers a fortune!

First of all, we’ve got to look at the actions that are putting these people in jail. I want numbers and the kinds of sentences these people get. Let’s get smart. Instead of paying our money to keep people in jail, let’s hit them where it really hurts: their wallets! Instead of jail for lesser, non-violent crimes, let’s fine them big money! We can’t lose. We’ll either make money to keep the others in jail or they will clean up their acts. It’s a win/win situation. Besides that, we need to become a respectable country again!

We had a wonderful Columbus Day Celebration this year. Besides honoring Christopher Columbus, we celebrated my sister Jo’s 92nd birthday! We can’t believe she’s that old, because she doesn’t look it! She looks wonderful and takes care of herself. My niece Judy Jeffrey came from Arlington to help celebrate! Jo and I also attended the C.I.A.O. Columbus Day dinner. It was three days of constant eating!

It’s wonderful to see strong family ties. Jo and I are the only two left out of eight children. We were the youngest two and the only ones born in this country. I’m so thankful we grew up during that time. We saw history being made right before our very eyes. I went through a lot of prejudice in high school, but things got easier as I grew up. People with Italian names became mayors, teachers, lawyers, businessmen, doctors, community leaders and more.

You name it and we did it. Have you noticed all the inter-cultural marriages? People from different cultures don’t stay segregated like they used to. Not one of the kids in my children’s generation of our family married an Italian.

My daughter-in-law is Jewish and she and my son Dan are so alike I could have brought her up myself. They both will give the shirts off their backs and help anyone who has a problem. Dan is a great counselor. He amazes me. Some people think Dot is my daughter because we are both so outgoing!

Looking ahead, I see other cultures breaking through social barriers as well. African Americans and those of Latin heritage are also doctors and lawyers, teachers and politicians now. On television and in sports, we see people of all cultures and races. People of color are role models and celebrities and icons. You are more free to love or marry who you want than you were 50 years ago.

Though it can be slow and frustrating at times, our culture is moving forward and things are getting better, but we have to keep working toward equality.

I think it’s only fitting I close with “Have a great life!”