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DEAR ABBY: I frequently host small dinner parties and get-togethers in my home for co-workers and friends. Most guests bring their spouse or a date. "Jane," a young lady with whom I work, has recently been corresponding with an inmate I'll call Al. Al was sentenced to eight years in prison, but will be released in a few weeks. Jane plans to bring him to my next dinner party.

Abby, Jane has dated abusive men in the past. When I asked her what Al was in prison for, she flipped out. She said, "Al has paid his debt to society! You shouldn't ask rude questions." When I gently inquired of Jane if Al had committed a violent crime, she hesitated. Then she said, "Well, sort of," and refused to elaborate.

Don't you agree that I have the right to know whom I am inviting into my home? Am I out of line or overly cautious? -- ALARMED HOST IN ALABAMA

DEAR ALARMED: Not at all. It's true that Al has paid his debt to society; however, you have the right to know whom you're entertaining in your home.

Arrange for Jane to introduce you to Al a few days before the party. It may put your fears to rest. But if it doesn't, cancel the event and schedule something else another time.

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