After verdict in fatal shooting, one is left with an expansive sense of grief

So we have a verdict at last in the case of Keith Williams and Wesson Colas, two young men whose rivalry led one of them to fire a bullet that killed an innocent bystander (“Two men are convicted in ’14 carnival murder,” Page A1, Dec. 29). Has justice been done? It would seem so, from the reaction of the victim’s relatives, who “fought back tears and embraced when they heard the verdicts, which carry an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole for each defendant.”

But think about it: young people whose life choices are so restricted, whose sense of self is so confined, that the only achievement they can envision is dominance over a neighborhood rival, and whose need for that dominance is so consuming that they react with violence when it is thwarted. Our society has largely created the conditions that limit their horizons and their opportunities, while giving them easy access to weapons. And our solution when they lash out is to lock them away for life — as if any other options were impossible or too expensive to contemplate.

It is right to grieve for the innocent victim, but our grief — and our responsibility — should not stop there.

Jan Schreiber