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  • Writer's pictureDennis Hetzel

Destroying records not the right answer

As a lobbyist for the Ohio News Media Association, I sometimes see things in politics that make me want to cry, but I’ve only teared up once in seven years.

That happened recently during a committee hearing of the Ohio House of Representatives in Columbus, Ohio. A young African-American man, Defonta Little, was the witness. He courageously shared a horrific story of false arrest after being misidentified as his twin brother. He spent weeks in jail. His brother’s record keeps showing up as his. He testified that he lost a warehouse job and struggles to find work. Family members wept two rows in front of me. So did many committee members. Others around me fought back tears.

I was particularly struck by the passion of the African-American legislators on the committee, Stephanie Howse and Bernadine Kennedy Kent. House Bill 64, which is pending in the Ohio Legislature, was neither surprising nor some sort of distant, policy-wonk issue to them. They knew that Little’s story was not unique, particularly in poor and minority communities. Other expert witnesses reinforced the point.

To read the rest of this post, which I contributed to the Huffington Post, please click here.

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