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This Is A Fairness-free Zone 

Research shows that individuals use drugs at roughly the same rate across all racial lines. Despite this, African Americans and those who live in the city of Cleveland are far more likely to be charged and convicted of a felony drug crime than those who are white and those who live in the suburbs ("Disparate Times," July 30, 2008).

According to a May 2008 nationwide report by Human Rights Watch, more whites than blacks over the age of 12 report using drugs at least once in their lifetime (49 percent, 42.9 percent, respectively). Among those considered current drug users who have used illicit drugs in the past month, 8.5 percent of whites and 9.8 percent of blacks identify in this category. Yet, 81 percent of drug cases in Cuyahoga County are levied against African Americans.

The consequences of this are dire for our community. Thousands of African Americans are unable to get well-paying jobs to support their families because they have a felony drug conviction. In addition, countless more people that need rehabilitation are merely shipped off to prison and often return to drug use after their release.

Citizens for a Safe & Fair Cleveland believes there is a better way to make our streets safer and our communities stronger. The justice system must begin by treating all people equally and not reserving harsher penalties for those who live in the city of Cleveland or African Americans. All people who violate the law should be held accountable, but the punishment should be equal to the crime. Charging a person with a felony for merely holding paraphernalia is unfair.

Additionally, officials must find new ways to address the drug problem besides incarcerating people with no counseling or rehabilitation. Prison does not cure someone of a drug addiction, and without meaningful intervention, it is likely they may continue their drug use. The current system is crippling our communities and not making us any safer. It is time for local officials to try new techniques to ensure all people are treated fairly or we risk continued harm to our neighborhoods and unequal treatment in our courts.

James HardimanChair, Citizens for a Safe & Fair Cleveland

GOOGLE FOR BOONDOGGLESWhile there are a very few functions of government that require secrecy, the awarding of no-bid contracts, special interest tax breaks, pork barrel earmarks and other opportunities for the abuse of influence should be completely open to public investigation. Any voter should be able to easily discover the influences on public officials in any branch or level of government. Ohio should copy Senator Obama's idea for a centralized and searchable internet database for lobbying reports, ethics records, significant business contacts and campaign finance filings. Such transparency might prevent the revolving door between influential government jobs and the community projects and industries that they are supposed to oversee. While voters can judge elected officials, we should immediately pass laws forbidding political appointees from working on regulations or contracts substantially related to their current and prior employers.

Robert SteinStrongsvilleLIFE AFTER DISGUSTThis is in regards to the article that your intern Brittany Moseley wrote about the local band Life After August (Locals Only, July 30). I have seen this band multiple times, and each time I leave in awe at how original and exciting this band is. I could not believe what I read in your magazine by this Brittany Moseley. I would like to know what school she attended to learn this so-called knowledge of music. What credentials does she have to critique these bands?

I recently attended their show at the Agora and stayed from the beginning of the two bands before them and also for the headlining band. It is funny how Life After August had more fans than any of the bands there, especially the headlining band. They were also on 96.5 Kiss FM when they have their weekly local band feature, and the DJ that night could not believe what an awesome band they are. I believe that a radio DJ has more knowledge than an intern.

I think that it is horrible how badly she talked about Life After August, and I hope her internship is over soon because she obviously has no clue what she is doing. I love Scene, but when I know how great an up-and-coming band is and I read the complete opposite, it blows my mind. I would greatly appreciate it if this message was forwarded to this so-call "intern."

L. CieslakAshlandWE WELCOME READER FEEDBACKAll letters should include name, address and phone. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.Please send to: Letters, Cleveland Scene, 1468 W. 9th St., Suite 805, Cleveland, OH 44113 EMAIL: scene{A-T}clevescene{D-O-T}com.

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