Upon learning of the tragic fate of James Lomax (“‘He wanted to turn his life around’: After 21 years in prison, Baltimore man was killed 4 months after release,” May 20), I felt compelled to direct attention to the story lurking beneath the surface.
James Lomax served 21 years for a series of drug-related crimes. We have become numb to the absurdity of a sentence that length. Although his life was ended by a senseless act of violence just recently, our criminal justice system — which became 165 percent more punitive from 1983 to 2013, according to Pew Charitable Trusts — flexed its destructive muscles on him long ago during the height of the war on drugs.
While our courts judged him to have done wrong back then, his crimes did not justify the gross inhumanity of a sentence that stole a father from two daughters for practically their entire childhood. Our criminal justice and corrections systems have misaligned priorities that serve to ruthlessly punish, even more so for people of color. As long as the status quo continues, we will continue to cast aside individuals without considering the consequences.
James Lomax’s life had value and he deserved to be treated with the humanity that reflects that fact.
Ari Goldstein, Baltimore
The writer is a student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.