Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies who will dazzle you with insight on various topics. After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:
Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.
Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.
Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World
It’s my turn. After reading this article regarding Cornealious Anderson, a man convicted of armed robbery who never reported to prison (he was never instructed to), I wondered if it was fair that the judicial system now wants him to cash in on 13 years of prison. Should he still serve the time, or has he rehabilitated himself from his prior conviction?
In order for me to give an accurate portrayal of my thoughts on this, I have to share a side story. I was talking with a friend regarding the welfare system, and our personal views on it. She needed assistance shortly after having her son, and when she had gone to apply for welfare, she was told that she made too much money. She was $2 over the allowed financial limit. At the time ( a decade ago), my friend certainly did not make nearly enough money to make ends meet, hence the need for assistance. She couldn’t believe that $2 was the issue. She asked if there were some way that they could deduct that $2 from what she would receive from welfare each month (my friend is definitely a “think outside the box” type of person). In response, the case worker advised my friend to stop working full-time, and to find something either part-time, or to not work at all in order to receive assistance. When she told me this story, I couldn’t believe that she was advised not to make a living. Not to apply herself, to be a productive working citizen. All over a lousy $2. However, the standards are set the way they are set, and the rules and laws are in effect- no room for budging. If you budge for one person, you have to budge for everyone, right?
Which brings me to Anderson. I’m not sure how he slipped through the cracks. According to this article, with such a high prison population, this happens often (scary). How long it goes unnoticed, though, is a rarity. 13 years! For the last 13 years he’s been a productive citizen. He never changed his name, or went into hiding. He paid income and property taxes. He was even pulled over for a couple of traffic violations over the years (showing his driver’s license to the officer) and there were no warrants for his arrest.
I’ve always viewed prison one of two ways, the first being a place where a criminal is sent to, to pay off a debt to society. The second is for rehabilitation. Often, criminals learn a vocation or skill. Some go back to school. The goal is to make sure the prisoner is ready to face society once again after time has been served. That isn’t always the case, however. There are many who are incarcerated and after their time is up, they get right back into old patterns. They revert to the life they led before prison, and end up behind bars once again. According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Statistics, 2/3 of offenders who are released go right back to prison within 3 years.
This doesn’t fit the profile for Anderson. True, maybe the right course of action would have been for him to speak up. As the days rolled into weeks, and weeks into months that turned into years, he should have said something regarding his sentence, or the lack thereof. Let’s be real, though. If you had been sentenced to 13 years in prison, and no one seemed to remember- would you remind them? If you had been informed to “wait, and we’ll let you know” and no one ever did- would you say something? It’s easy to see this as a black and white (wrong or right) situation, but it’s nothing but a smattering of gray areas, all starting with the judicial system when they dropped the ball on Anderson’s sentence.
Like my friend with her $2 dilemma, can we think outside the box? Considering the circumstances, maybe he can be put on parole. Or on house arrest, where he’ll be monitored and only allowed to travel to work and back home. I can’t see taking a productive citizen from our society and placing him in the (already bursting at the seams) prison system for 13 years, even with the circumstances that surround Anderson. I’m sure there is some sort of compromise that can be made here. Anderson has lived a crime-free life after his one unfortunate mistake. Do we really want to reverse his progress?
What do you think? Should Anderson do the time?