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    letters | CONCERNS OVER THREE-STRIKES BILL

    This is not a black or white issue

    Jamie Ayers, a former inmate in the Massachusetts corrections system, spoke at a news conference at the State House this week in which critics of pending three-strikes legislation expressed concerns about the bill.
    DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF
    Jamie Ayers, a former inmate in the Massachusetts corrections system, spoke at a news conference at the State House this week in which critics of pending three-strikes legislation expressed concerns about the bill.

    I LOOK forward to the day when the headline reads “Massachusetts community aims to block 3-strikes bill’’ (“Black leaders aiming to halt 3-strikes bill,’’ Page A1, Jan. 23).

    Yes, the black community is organizing to prevent the state from making our sentencing laws more rigidly harsh and inflexible. But this is an issue that affects every resident in the Commonwealth. It’s not “tough on crime.’’ It’s tough on Massachusetts.

    This is budget season, and social services are on the chopping block again. Every new dollar we pour into keeping people locked up in already overcrowded prisons is a dollar taken away from children, the elderly, and the needy. And it’s money taken away from real public safety measures such as infinitely less costly comprehensive re-entry services.

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    As black church leaders reach out to people of faith in the suburbs, I hope their suburban counterparts respond with righteous passion and activism. Whether you’re a religious person, a budget hawk, or simply someone who believes in fair, individualized treatment under the law, we should all join in opposing the proposed three-strikes bill pending at the State House.

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    Massachusetts - our entire community - can do better.

    Gavi Wolfe

    Legislative counsel

    ACLU of Massachusetts

    Boston