169. Undigestible Justice

Monday, the last day of September unless you are a government contractor who bills for work done on September 31 or the government accountant who approves the invoice. For the rest of us it’s the end of the ninth month that translates as the seventh month, which it was when Rome ran a ten month calendar, back when emperors could steal days from other months to make their month longer, thus stroking their unbalanced and unchecked egos. Then, when it was snowing in July, things had to be restructured. Sounds a lot like our current government shutdown/bankruptcy process where losers steal the ball rather than play by the rules that they attempted to manipulate in the first place. They call foul; blame the other side; and then point at the clock…”Oh my, we’re almost out of time!” Maybe these elected officials (slimy politicians) will compromise after our republic has joined Rome in the landfill of history. Perhaps when their pensions fail to arrive on time, they will finally get it. It’s pretty bad when my wife agrees to watch Monday Night Football rather than listen to the liars in Washington do their equivalent of the 2-minute drill, their last second, drama driven finger pointing, Hail Mary pass for their partisan positions. I’d rather watch two year olds fight over a stale ginger snap.

But this is all background for my topic. See, my friend Chuck had another day in court this afternoon. His baby momma wanted to take the rest of his parental rights from him. She already had 167 of 168 hours of weekly custody, and today she wants to cut that final thin filament of attachment between father and daughter. She’s engaged to a new boyfriend, and they want to adopt Chuck’s daughter so they can play house neatly. The woman has two other children to a Hispanic boyfriend, but these half siblings are not up for adoption. How can this be? Let’s go back in time five years.

In 2008 Chuck was arrested for having a sexually explicit on-line conversation with a state police officer who was pretending to be a 14 year old girl. He was 34. Stupid, awful, wrong. He was put in jail and signed a plea agreement to get out. He pled guilty without a lot of thought or legal counsel. The guys in jail said, “Don’t sign a plea deal, man”. Chuck ignored their jailhouse wisdom. His free lawyer just walked with him through the slaughterhouse, not defending him intelligently or vigorously. No doubt a $250 an hour lawyer would have gotten him off or just told him to shut up and make the state prove its case. Seems the investigator lost the on-line chat that preceded the sting statements. And once you admit to a crime, it’s tough to take it back or add perspective. No one listens after you say, “Yes, I did it.”

He got eight years of supervised probation. Though at every turn, week after week, his probation officer threatened him with prison, Chuck complied. Despite the stupidity of the system, the alpha dog barking and preening of the PO’s, Chuck did not crack. He worked. He reported every Thursday morning. He went back to college and succeeded academically. Most importantly, he looked past justice, past forgiveness and stared into Grace. He came to a deep faith in Christ.

Numerous fellow believers came alongside Chuck in his journey. Someone gave him a place to stay. Someone paid for groceries. Someone else gave him a job. Another man gave him a used car. Little by little he crawled up near the rim of the hole he had dug for himself. And men mentored him. A lady at church tutored him. In bits and pieces a second family came around this shattered young man. He soaked up God’s word and read more books in a year than he’d read in his life to date. He hung on with hope for his nine year old daughter. But Baby Momma saw how easy it would be to advance her agenda and squeeze him out of his daughter’s life. Like a slimy politician she worked the system to 167 unaccountable hours for her to 1 hour supervised for Chuck.

Despite the haters and jerk around cretins at Parole and Probation, he graduated from most restrictions and weekly probation after just three and a half years. Humbled? yes. Broken? no. Oh yeah, in the mean time his Megan’s List registration and public posting was increased from ten years to 15 years by our less than sterling governor, “Frackin” Tom Corbett. It’s so interesting that he opened up the tax credits to his fracking industry buddies while jacking already convicted sex offenders with a 50% added sentence to Megan’s List. It’s a safe vote against a group that has no voting constituents. PA Senate bill 1183…

“4) Anyone who was previously required to register in Pennsylvania and has not completed his or her registration period. When this provision takes effect, one’s NEW registration period will be determined by the NEW time frames for sexually violent offenses. This means that even if one has completed 7 of 10 years, his or her registration period will increase to 15, 25 or life.”

I know it’s hard to find compassion for sex offenders, but try to imagine that you had served your time for a crime and yet you need to remain registered for an additional five years, subject to further diddling by a slimy politician. How is it that this deal can be rewritten? Now imagine rewriting the tax breaks for Corbett’s frackin’ buddies. Right. Impossible. On top of this miscarriage of “one size fits all” justice, add the automatic custody loss as soon as Baby Momma says “Megan’s List offender”.

When I first heard of water that burned, I had to see it to believe it. but sure enough methane gas gets mixed with groundwater in Frackland and water burns right out of the tap. I have a similar sense of awe and disbelief at the combustion of justice in my friend’s case. I swallow hard and re-chew the facts in this case and I just can’t digest it. “Hey kid! Let go of that ginger snap! And Blind Lady of Justice, quit peeking.” What’s on Sports Center, Honey?


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