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THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2007
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Penny Haddock, left, and Sue Bell Cobb at the conclusion of the PACT Volunteer Appreciation luncheon at First Bible Church on Tuesday. Cobb was the keynote speaker.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Penny Haddock, left, and Sue Bell Cobb at the conclusion of the PACT Volunteer Appreciation luncheon at First Bible Church on Tuesday. Cobb was the keynote speaker.

Chief justice praises PACT for making Decatur safe

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Decatur streets are safer and Alabama's death row probably is less populated because of Parents and Children Together.

That's what Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb told PACT supporters Wednesday during their annual luncheon.

"There's no telling how many people you've saved," Cobb told the people gathered at First Bible Church.

Early intervention in a child's life that ensures nurturing, stability, love and support — as PACT seeks to provide — is the key to making the community safe, she said.

Cobb, the state's first female chief justice, told disturbing stories of children who lacked all the ingredients of a safe and caring home.

One of them was Christopher Lee Price. He was born to a 15-year-old mother, and his father fed him alcohol at age 2. Abused throughout his childhood, he quit school in 11th grade.

Another story was about Holly Wood, born with fetal alcohol syndrome. He was one of seven children with a single mother, and she beat him regularly because he wet his bed.

A third was about Mark Alan Jenkins, who had to sleep under a sink growing up. His grandfather raped him at age 3. Subject to abuse and neglect, he left home to live on the street by age 13.

Besides neglect, beatings and alcohol abuse, all three men and others Cobb spoke of have another common experience. All are on Alabama's death row for murder.

Cobb said she wished every county had organizations like PACT that provide education and support to equip young families with the tools to make better choices for their children.

"With children at stake, you need policymakers to make children and families a priority," she said. "Never give up."

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