SOUTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - While officials with the city of South Fulton contemplate punishing parents for their children's games, members of a community collaboration of programs are saying not so fast.
Community members said what's at stake is the breakdown of the African-American family, and the city needs to look more closely at programs that help, and focus less on the threat of jail.
Gregory Merit, 21, a resident of South Fulton, has had trouble with the law.
"Ten years a charge, so 50 years," Merit said. "I just thank God every day that he put Mr. Davis in my life and all of the team members."
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Team members from churches and youth organizations like Let Us Make Man, for 12 years have worked to help African-American men like Merit succeed and stay out of jail.
"Most of the time, we know that if people knew better, they'd do better," said Mawuli Davis, a founding member of the group.
State Rep. William Boddie, clergy and youth leaders want the city to table the proposed ordinance that would punish parents for their children's crimes.
"We cannot expect to build strong African-American men without building a strong African-American family, and anything that jeopardizes that is fundamentally problematic," Davis said.
"I have three younger siblings. Where would they go while me and also my mom was incarcerated?'" Merit said.
Merit told Channel 2's Wendy Corona that positive role models and a second chance have changed his life.
"You know, you only get one second chance," Merit said. "This is my second chance, and I can't take it for granted."
Mawuli Davis, a founding member of the group, said he was concerned about the needs of other children at home when parents are removed.
“If you start removing parents for 10 days, for 15 days, then what happens to other children that are in that home?’” Davis asked. “The keeping and holding together of the African-American family is one of the things that Dr. Gary White with Let Us Make Man has focused on for years.”
The group will hold a program Saturday at 2 p.m. at Stonewall Tell Elementary School for anyone interested in helping youth and hearing kids tell their accounts of consequences they faced when they broke the law.
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