This past week I have thought about how I feel about crime and the way we punish and even dispose of those individuals who commit crimes in this country. I had to ask myself if I was objective when looking at this problem. The answer I've come up with is NO, I am not.
A few months ago I was a witness to a premeditated violent crime. I was three feet away from a friend who was stabbed in the back with a steak knife taken from a restaurant that we had just been inside of. It only took moments....but at that moment.....time just slowed down to a crawl. Right now even as I think about it, things continue to move in slow motion.
The knife penetrated my friends back three different times...Once only millimeters away from his spinal cord. Another, just a shallow blow. The third punctured his lung.
I remember hearing screaming.....Was that my voice? I recall thinking my friend is being killed. I remember the flash of metal of the knife blade in the lights of the parking lot. I remember the faces of other friends as they pulled the attacker off of my friend, relieving him of his knife. I remember seeing my friend laying there bleeding.....his blood all over the hood of the car. I remember being the one to have to call his Mom. Waking her from a sound sleep to tell her that her son had been stabbed and was being life flighted to a hospital 60 miles away. I remember the sound of her voice..the fear in it.
But this isn't about me or what I felt or remember. It is about knowing that the guy who stabbed my friend had been arrested before. In fact 3 times prior to the attack. All three times during an 8 month period prior to the stabbing of my friend. That he had been arrested for drugs and assault. That on each occasion he had been arrested and then released on bond. Which is why he was out walking freely the night he decided to stick a steak knife in my friend.
The simple fact that this man in question, the attacker...was at home with his family before my friend even was able to leave the hospital from his injuries was offensive to me. The fact that this man shows no remorse or guilt for what he's done.
Proof of that is the way he walked into a store while my friend standing at the counter paying for his purchases...He walked up behind my friend, getting as close as he can get with out touching him and stands there. Almost as if daring my friend, his former victim to say something...to react in some way. That is not a man who has remorse or feels guilt over what he's done. That is a man who's saying "I'm walking around free what are you going to do about it"? Knowing all to well that there is nothing that we can do to him or about him. He's laughing at us. At this system.
So am I objective about crime and punishment?? The answer would be..... NO I AM NOT.
I believe that most of the people in our prison system right now deserve to be there. I also believe that most were given multiple chances to straighten out before being locked up for good. So no, I have no sympathy for those behind bars. Its not a question that they may have made bad choices. Of course they did....they are in prison. Maybe there are even those individuals who have remorse for what they have done.
But you know what? Most of us go out into this world every single day and we make a choice to abide the law and not to commit a crime. We may want things, but we don't just take them if they aren't ours. We have people who make us angry and we make a choice not to pick up a weapon as a response to that anger.
So forgive me if I don't feel all touchy feely over someone else's poor choices. Or the need to give each individual a "do over card" because they made a that poor choice. I don't give a damn about your poor choices. YOU were more than likely taught the difference between right and wrong just as I was. YOU probably knew before you did whatever it was, that it wasn't the right thing to do. YOU knew, but you did it anyway. You got behind the wheel of that car after drinking....You took drugs or sold them...You took something that didn't belong to you.....You hurt another person because you didn't like them or were angry. What ever your reason for what you did...YOU DID IT. You made the choice to screw up your life. Deal with the consequences of it.
I have made my share of mistakes in my life. Luckily for me..none of them have been bad enough to land me in jail. But having said that, even I have some family members on my all too colorful family tree that have first hand knowledge of a jail cell...I have one family member that's even spent time in prison. Did I like it that this happened to them? No. Did each of them do something to deserve being in jail? YES THEY DID. They broke the law. I knew it..they knew it. Did I have sympathy for them being in jail..NOPE.
YES I felt disappointed that they made a poor choice. That the were stupid enough to get themselves arrested. I suppose there was even a part of me that wished that they had actually used the few brain cells God had given them and weren't out doing bone headed things. Things that not only hurt them...but their families as well. But the bottom line is...they didn't think..they did it..and they deserved to be where they were.
There is NO such thing as a victimless crime. Because as a tax payer as a citizen..each time someone makes one of those "poor choices". I pay for it. I pay for it by having a prison built in my back yard. I pay for it with my taxes, that house, feed, entertain and even educate that prisoner. I pay for it by having to lock up everything I own so that no one takes it from me. I will pay for it by not being able to let my future children play outside by themselves in their own neighborhood. That those same children cant go to school with out walking past a metal detector. That they cant wear backpacks any longer, just in case someone wants to bring a gun to class. I pay for it when I cant even go out to have breakfast at night with a group of friends without one of them ending up in the hospital.
Do you want to know the truth? I'm tired of paying for it!!! When are the people who make good choices going to matter more than the ones who don't?
WHEN ARE THE VICTIMS GOING TO MATTER MORE THAN THE CRIMINALS?