It took me days to even attempt some cohesive comments about the hideous incident that ruined, not only the annual Bike the Bluff bicycle event, but impacted more lives than we can know.

Many of us were already looking over our shoulders at the fires threatening us from every direction when the the ruination of the state championship road race, a welcome form of entertainment and diversion, added to the tension. It’s hard to enjoy carefree activities when we suddenly feel menaced by pure evil. From which direction will it strike next?

Could come from anywhere since we as a state and country seem unable or unwilling to get and keep criminals out of our midst. Now, I write “opinion” not “news” so my opinion on the topic is what you’re going to read in this forum. And my opinion is that if someone who, (even when presumed by law to be innocent) by his mid-thirties, hasn’t yet learned to stay out of serious trouble, trouble that endangers other people’s lives, he needs to be locked up. Not just for hand-slap intervals, but with the key thrown away.

Yes, our prison system needs reevaluation, but so do our legal/judicial/mental health systems. We’ve long-since opted to pooh-pooh the whole mental health aspect of crime in the country rather than institutionalize those unable or unwilling to straighten up and fly right. Not how I’d handle it, but nobody’s asked me.

Tell me honestly; when a person has, in the last 14 or 15 years, been charged with felony aggravated DUI, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct with a weapon, and multiple other bad acts not even counting this heinous one, what can we expect from him when he hits the streets again? Do you think he’s going to come out of another stint of incarceration as a choir-boy? Or do you think he’s going to try again to take lives? With wanton disregard for anyone other than himself?

For those of us who aren’t hand-wringers, who gave our kids a whack on the butt when they needed it and who can differentiate between right and wrong, this isn’t a hard question to answer. Sure, almost every wrongdoer deserves a second chance and even a third in some instances. But to just set up a turnstile for their personal use for as long as they want to bounce in and out of jail or prison, convenient as it may be for them, is radically unfair to those of us trying to live our own lives in a law-abiding manner.

Why should people who have paid taxes to fund the police, prisons and everything else be terrorized by those who refuse to live by society’s rules? Why should a bike ride, a shopping trip or anything else be a scary proposition of looking over our shoulders? Why? Because of the minority among us who believe those who man our legal, judicial and mental health systems should be cuddly, always forgiving saps who protect the wrongdoers rather than the rest of us.

(4) comments

che guevara

My sentiments exactly . I could not agree with you more , Leslie . Does anyone ever stop and wonder why this system of crime and punishment is referred to as being the " criminal justice system " ? I believe that this is so because in most cases the criminals get the disproportionate benefit of justice , while the victims and the public have their well - being and justice subordinated . Thus , we as a society have had to endure , for far too long , a revolving door of miscreants being waltzed around by a dysfunctional criminal justice system , whereby they are ultimately forced back upon society at the continued expense of the public safety . The legal profession is also to blame for this affront to society , as those with sufficient enough financial means often buy their way out of punishment . Hence we derive the term of a " criminal lawyer " .... aren't they all ? This dynamic is further exacerbated by way of plea bargaining and the farcical carousel of probation and counseling . All of the above , by the way , are money makers for the system by way of a multitude of fees and fines .

Penal colonies are one of the only solutions that have ever worked as regards that small percentage of the populace ( somewhere around 10% or slightly less ) that either can not , or will not conduct themselves with decency and civility . The French had Guyana ( as made famous by the tale of Papillon ) , the British had Australia , the Russians have Siberia - exiling of undesirables works . We should do likewise .

2rusty

Great points, Che. Pretty scary to wonder if it's even possible to get back to common sense in this country.

che guevara

2rusty ; The short answer to your question is NO . The issues raised in this editorial are indicative of a global sickness which has always afflicted the human race . This recent local episode is merely at the microcosm , whereas the macrocosm is at this time in the throes of this exact same dis - ease of the soul . Without getting too far into what I could say , I will point out two things to you and suggest that you take it from there , if you so choose .

First off ; those who have been paying attention have come to realize that both Communism and Capitalism are dismal flops . Secondly ; throughout history , regardless of the dynamic involved , be it evolutionary in terms of a species , geographically in terms of the physical earth , or in terms of societal / civilization order or any constructed political " ism " , extinction has always been the norm , and survival has been the exception . The recent episode in Show Low , and my response as to how something like this can actually become potentiated by the very system which was instituted to avert such disasters in the first place , indicates that a steadfast decline has been underway for quite some time . Further aggravating this unpleasant fact is the tendency of declines , and the powers / forces fueling those declines , to develop an inertia over time while the majority of any given populace dozes off and remains unaware until it is too far gone to stop , let alone to ever reverse . What is playing out is nothing new - read , The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire , by Edward Gibbon ( ISBN 0 - 14 - 043764 - 9 ) for starters . Sadly , the fulcrum which has always afforded any civilization with the optimum balance of law and order has been some form of despotism , be it Fascism or Feudalism , which is exactly where this is all heading as warp speed . There is going to eventually be widespread law and order , however the price that this will exact is liable to be unpleasant to the vast majority .

ronzim

I comment here from the perspective of a career trial court manager, both in Arizona and in Texas.

“Incarcerated persons make little restitution; dead ones make none.” From an essay I wrote for professional consumption. I will get back to that. First, I would like to deal with the very bedrock notion of laws which deal with terrible harm done by one human to another, which is based on the mistaken conclusion that punishment does two things: First, it deters crime. Second, it constitutes justice. It does neither. The failure of the first idea is demonstrated by virtually all human history wherein the ghastliest of punishments have had no effect on the rates of crimes for which meted out. As for the second, punishment has no basis in justice but is primarily motivated by revenge (a not altogether flattering human idea). After all, no punishment can make the victim whole, as dead people have always informed us.

Bound up in this eternal imbroglio is the all too eager designation of crime as “evil” without any real regard for the mental status of the accused. The most egregious acts against others are so far removed from healthy minds (organized crime notwithstanding) that no reasonable conclusion can involve evil – just sickness. Certainly, there are cases where the accused is so diminished that permanent isolation from society is the only logical course. In that regard, we got it right in the case of Charlie Manson who died in the Vacaville prison for the incorrigibly insane. Killing him would have been more expensive and had no different outcome for society.

The demands for revenge have resulted in the establishment of three entirely ludicrous standards to determine if someone is “sane” enough to stand trial: 1. Knows the difference between right and wrong (not even Congress knows that). 2. Understands the consequences of the crime for which accused. 3. Can participate in his own defense. This means that millions of those who are clinically insane (really crazy) are forced to trial by these standards which serve only the demand for revenge. In the case of Bernie Madoff, he should never have gone to prison but should have been sentenced to use his considerable financial acumen to work the rest of his life paying restitution, under court supervision.

There can be no justice in any system which has the resources to deal only with a small fraction of the cases before it. “A 2012 New York Times article reported that 97% of federal cases and 94% of state cases end via plea bargain.” That, however, does not tell the full story. Consider two things. If every accused person pled not guilty and demanded a jury trial, the entire judicial edifice would collapse in 24 hours. Second, prosecutorial discretion is a blunt force weapon used to terrify accused persons (especially the poor) into foregoing their constitutional right to trial, and results in guilty pleas even to crimes they did not commit.

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