To the editor:

I'm writing this letter because it seems to be my last chance and there is no way out.If I were to tell you I have a troubled son and he comes from a broken home and he did the drug scene (which seems to socially retard him as it does so much of our youth), you would say, "What else is new?"

I remember my son as a boy as the sweetest and most affectionate of all my children. When his father left, he seemed to go down hill from then on. He was in and out of the court system and committed a crime at 16 and was put in a county jail and paid for it. But the worst part of his saga is he was put on parole and could not pay it, and he has been running ever since.

If you were to see my son on the street today, you would think, "What a handsome young man." He is 26. He doesn't use drugs or liquor. He has rebuilt a BMW and is a marathon runner and has a small business of his own. Some might say he is on his way to a good life. But there is a sadness to him because he is constantly being threatened by this one major problem.

He can't have a license because they would locate him from it. He is very artistic and was given a dean's scholarship but won't sign up for school for the same reason.

The police stopped him one night, he wasn't sure why, but he took off and led them on a merry chase, then abandoned the car and took off running, and they didn't catch him. The police now have his car, and I might add this is the second time he has done this. He has lost two cars and is on foot again!

Once in a great while he will blow up on the job because his pride is hurt and he will come home and tell us what a jerk he was, but he wants to improve himself and he feels so trapped and can't get ahead of the problem.

I wonder how many parents out there are like me or how many young men are in jail serving time who have a story like my son. In this world of overcrowded jails, what is the answer? It seems so unfair. Where do we draw the line between the letter of the law or the spirit of the law?

Name withheld