Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 1999

Harold Keller / L’Observateur / June 19, 1999

A few months ago, two family members of a person in jail, who was charged with his third DWI, called me to help. I have to admit that I didn’thave much sympathy for the person in jail. He was in his early 40s and hisfamily said that they didn’t want him in jail. “He wants help!” theypleaded. “Everybody in jail wants help,” I said, without much compassion.”If you want to help him, let him stay in jail and pay the consequences.”The conversation didn’t last long after my remarks. I’m sure they weresorry they called.

Thursday morning, the headline of an article in the Times-Picayune really got my attention. It read: “Rams linebacker sentenced to jail.” The articletold of the St. Louis Rams’ linebacker, Leonard Little, being sentenced tojail for 90 days. One would think that Mr. Little was convicted for someminor offense. Guess again. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.He was drunk and drove through a red light and killed a woman. The familyof the woman couldn’t believe the judge’s sentence. I’m sure they aren’tfootball fans. They don’t understand that Leonard has to be out for thefootball season. The next time they hear the Pledge of Allegiance to theflag, they won’t understand “liberty and justice for all.”Speaking of justice – in December of last year, I read, and still have the article headlined: “Abita Springs grandfather gets 15 years for DWI.” Thegrandfather, age 58, pleaded guilty to his fourth DWI. The judge said thathe could have gotten 30 years, but was lenient because of his age. Withgood behavior, the man can be out at age 66. I’m again reminded of thepledge – “liberty and justice for all.”As I write this article, I feel bad about the way I acted on the phone a few months ago with the people who called me to help their relative with his third DWI. At least he didn’t kill anyone – yet!Did Leonard Little get preferential treatment because he was a pro athlete? You be the judge.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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