Black leaders: More death penalties not the answer

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Religious and community leaders are taking issue with statements from a group of pastors who last week called for more death sentences to help deter black-on-black crimes.

There are two trains of thought to addressing the issue. One is more death penalties, while the other is more social programs and community involvement.

"Even as a pastor, I understand that you have to value life," Pastor Kenneth Adkins said last week. "But when you don't value life, I personally believe that you don't deserve to live."

Adkins is calling for increased use of lethal injections to decrease the black-on-black crime rate in Jacksonville. But other community and religious leaders say that idea is way off base.


"We already have enough people targeting our young black youth, so I think that these young pastors should have at least come forward with something positive," said Linda Dayson, of Hurting Families with Children.

Dayson's work with families affected by violent crime. She said the call for capital punishment won't solve the problem. Instead, she said more focus needs to be put on at-risk teens with positive role models.

"Men. We need men," Dayson said. "It's past time that men take their place. They have been out of place for so long, and no matter how strong a woman is, God never intended a woman to teach a man how to be a young man. This needs to be exemplified from a man."

Mentoring is precisely what Minister Richard Burton does in communities where there is a great need. He said calling for increased use of the death penalty for black people is in injustice in itself.

"Whatever you want to do with the law, make it the same," Burton said. "It shouldn't just be just a black law. That's the problem with the prejudices going on in this community today."

"These young people, they don't care about the death penalty," said Donald Foy, of MAD DADS, Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder.

Foy said the community is the solution to reducing crime in Jacksonville. He said more needs to be done to persuade people in the community that's it's OK to tell police what they know to help solve crimes.

"We've got to be doing things, prevention as well as intervention, and we can't expect the system to do it all," Foy said. "The community has got to step up."

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