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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Issue of the Week: Repeal the Castle Doctrine

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Just who, exactly, does Wisconsin's new castle doctrine law benefit?

The law allows property owners to legally—and fatally—shoot intruders because the courts will presume that they had acted reasonably when they pulled the trigger. The law, which passed on a bipartisan vote last year, had been pushed by the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups. The pro-corporation American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has promoted castle doctrine laws around the country, modeled after Florida's law, which is allowing Trayvon Martin's killer to elude criminal charges.

Wisconsin's new castle doctrine law certainly didn't help Bo Morrison, an unarmed, young, mixed-race man who was fatally shot through the heart and lung on March 3 in Slinger while hiding in a porch after an underage drinking party was broken up by police.

The castle doctrine isn't helping Adam Kind, Morrison's killer, even though he won't have to face criminal charges for shooting the unarmed trespasser. Kind could have handled the situation peacefully, but he chose to shoot Morrison at close range as the young man began raising his hands in the air. Kind will have to live with the guilt of killing an unarmed man for the rest of his life.

And the castle doctrine certainly isn't helping law enforcement. Kind had called the police, and officers were less than 300 feet away from Kind's porch, where he encountered Morrison. Police are trained to defuse tense situations without pulling the trigger. Since Morrison was unarmed, law enforcement could have arrested him without the use of deadly force. Unfortunately, Kind decided to take the law into his own hands and kill Morrison. The castle doctrine also takes power away from prosecutors, who won't be able to charge shooters like Kind for killing a person.

Wisconsin legislators must repeal the castle doctrine immediately, before others are killed when they could simply have been arrested by police for minor criminal offenses. The price is too high to pay.

Heroes of the Week
: Convergence Resource Center Volunteers

Firm in the belief that challenges facing the community are best overcome when people assume greater responsibility for their lives, the Convergence Resource Center (3975 N. 68th St.) was founded in 2004 to provide resources to formerly incarcerated women to help them integrate back into society.

"Our programs help these women gain job skills," says Carla McKiver, co-founder and co-executive director of the Convergence Resource Center. "We also provide them with appropriate clothing for job interviews and help them secure housing and employment. By providing a helping hand to these women, we are allowing them to overcome several of the key barriers and making their transition from prison to the real world much smoother."

Volunteers play a vital role in helping participants take control of and responsibility for their success, serving as mentors in the areas of business etiquette, computer skills, life skills and job training. To learn more or to volunteer, call 414-393-1325 or visit www.lassidministries.org.
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