Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Worth Of A Child's Life

Just another little update to inform you that the American system of justice is slipping even further down the road towards certifiably insane.

How much is a child's life worth? And I'll double much are the lives of two children worth? How about if they're brothers, aged 13 and 3 respectively, who were doing nothing more heinous than walking home from their local community center?

I'll tell you how much the court system in Tampa, Florida figures it out to be, shall I? Oh..and make sure you're sitting down.

2 years of house arrest.

Apparently on April 1st of 2004, four siblings were walking home from the community center close by their home. Three young boys, ages 13, 3 and 2, and their 8 year old sister. A woman, driving 10 miles over the speed limit on her way home from the elementary school close by the community center struck the children with her car. The 13-year old and the 3-year old were killed instantly - the 3-year old being dragged under her car for about 150 feet - and the 8-year old and the 2-year old were injured.

Now that, god help us all, would be awful enough. But then the driver of the car, Jennifer Porter, sped away from the scene of the accident to her parents' house where she remained for FIVE FREAKING DAYS before coming forward. And even when she DID come forward, she made a claim that a white van had hit the children and knocked them into her car. The authorities blew that claim out of the water, and placed the blame squarely on her shoulders.

She says she didn't stop because she was too scared.

The noise you hear is my heart bleeding for her.

She could have faced a 15-year jail term if convicted at trial, and was previously offered a plea deal that would have sent her to prison for three years, but her attorney said that she decided to plead guilty and hope that the judge would impose a lighter sentence.

LIGHT?? Ferchrissakes, this sentence is so freaking light it needs strings to anchor it to the pavement!! Circuit Court Judge Emmett Lamar Battles (aka Judge Left My Brain In My Other Suit) said he weighed Porter's clean record and the 'extreme trauma' she endured during the crime in sentencing her to 'community custody', which he described as 'a stricter form of probation - essentially house arrest', along with three years of probation, 500 hours of community service benefitting children, and psychiatric treatment. For the trauma - you know.

Excuse me a second....I think I need to vomit.

Extreme trauma? EXTREME FREAKING TRAUMA??!! What kind of trauma did she suffer exactly? The kind suffered by the 8 and 2 year old babies who watched their brothers turned into roadkill as they themselves were injured? Or maybe the kind suffered by the mother who now has only half of her original number of children? I mean hell, her trauma was so extreme that she went to work as normal the following day and taught children to dance.

I've never been very big on the whole race card issue. But one has to wonder how much the race of the parties involved factored into the eventual judgment. Had Porter been a black man who hit four little white children and fled the scene of the accident, how many of us believe he'd be walking the streets or breathing free air again for another 15 years? But the eight little empty shoes left in the roadway on that April night belonged to four little black children, and Missy Porter is just about as white as you can get, complete with high-priced attorney, retained by her parents before they finally got around to letting the police know where they could find the Toyota Echo with the broken windshield and damaged hood and blood and flesh still attached.

And why do we even have laws against tampering with evidence when Porter's father can take a can of Lysol and a roll of paper towels and clean blood and brains from the windshield and receive no sanctions for it? Why do we have obstruction laws when the parents told Porter not to call the police but just to hide the car and carry on as if nothing had happened, and the prosecutors turn a blind eye? And why do we have vehicular manslaughter laws if you can speed down a road, injure two children, kill two more and receive house arrest for leaving the scene of an accident?

Sometimes I think America has stepped so far out of the realms of taking any kind of personal responsibility that it turns aggressors into victims. She received a light sentence because of her clean record - despite having 8 points out of the possible 12 necessary to get your license stripped from you, for things like doing 65 in a 45 mile an hour zone - and for her extreme trauma during the event. Um...isn't that a bit like killing your parents and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court because you're an orphan? Didn't she CAUSE her own extreme trauma by HITTING THE KIDS WITH HER CAR??!!

The world is too much with me sometimes.


Blogger michael the tubthumper said...

a few years back we had a judge who in the same day only gave someone a £50 fine for sexual harassment and gave someone else a £500 fine for throwing a potato chip packet out the window of his car

8:20 AM  
Blogger mikevotes said...

That is absolutely horrible. And, I don't know the specific case, but, the US is replete with studies regarding unequal sentencing in regards to race in death penalty cases.

Highest punishment: Black on trial for killing a white.

Lowest punishment: White on trial for killing a black.


11:41 AM  

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