I try hard not to get emotionally involved in any news article I write. It would be inappropriate for me to interject my opinion into a news piece. I have to save that opinion for once a week — when I’m allowed to put it in print in this piece.
That stated, I certainly have opinions about most everything I write. I enjoy watching the wheels of local government turn.
Of course, I have opinions I voice in private or among my colleagues here. I can’t stand to see wasteful spending, for instance.
However, the thing which most rattles my cage as I write is when I see people making poor life decisions which negatively affect others.
A group of young adults driving down the road at night might be doing nothing wrong, but then somebody who made a poor decision or series of poor decisions that night can throw those other lives into turmoil. Sometimes that individual’s poor decisions can even take a life.
That, of course, is sad. The names change, but the story doesn’t. I see it all the time. A drunk in Winston-Salem killing a couple people in his pick-up. His booze was worth more than their lives, apparently. Somebody on pills hitting a man working in his yard. The list goes on.
And yes it’s sad. However, what is most sad is when I do my due diligence in my reporting duties and pull up the records of those involved.
It seems we see a lot of the same names. Police reports. Sheriff reports. Articles on the happenings in the courtroom. Then there’s that article in which the person maims or kills somebody. A quick Google search usually reveals that exact course of coverage. It’s a crash course a person seemingly takes toward ending or drastically changing an innocent person’s life.
It seems fair to interject the point that I am no saint. Just like most people, I have made my fair share of bad decisions in life. I try to learn from them, and some lessons are harder than others.
I think it’s that point of learning from one’s past indiscretions which some folks seem to miss, and I’ve drawn a hard-line opinion on folks who can’t learn from their mistakes on the first, second or even third try.
Everybody deserves to screw up a little in life, but nobody deserves to screw up (hypothetically speaking of course) 12 times.
A person who screws up that much can’t be allowed to continue to negatively impact the world, and though it may not be the fault of anybody, it sure seems these folks aren’t being locked up.
It boggles my mind that when I call up some of these offenders’ names in the state’s system my index finger grows fatigued just scrolling to the beginning of the person’s record.
A law enforcement official once told me, “Some people just need to be separated from society.”
This official couldn’t be more correct.
When I look at a person’s record and that individual has been convicted of 50 or 60 crimes, my question is, “Why is that individual living among the rest of us?”
That individual should be filling the proverbial vacant space under the jail.
The fact is everybody deserves a lesson or two — a teachable moment in life that makes a normal person think, Maybe I need to alter course. Nobody deserves 60. At lesson number 60 — or maybe 5 or ten — society must be responsible enough to cut and run.
Of course, it’s easy for me to take this hard-line stance. I don’t have to balance any budgets. It certainly costs money to house inmates.
Here’s what I think. Use them as prison labor. That sounds harsh, but I have to work to pay my mortgage and put food on the table. Lock them up, and make them work for the roof over their head and their bread and water like I do. They could make license plates, widgets. I don’t care.
At the risk of upsetting some of my more liberal friends, I’ll float this idea as well. The herd could be thinned by sentencing all murderers to death — including those who murder an individual by way of drunk driving — and actually carrying out those sentences.
There are 148 convicts on death row in North Carolina. While those folks are absolutely entitled to appeals, their cases should be pushed to the front of any court docket to ensure justice is served as quickly as possible.
And there are a whole bunch of additional murderers sucking away hard-earned taxpayer dollars who should have received the same sentence as these folks.
That would free up some beds, allowing the state to find places to separate those who seemingly are incapable of learning lessons from the rest of us who are simply going about our lives — at least until the felon disrupts them when he or she kills a six-pack of tall boys, snorts a few pills and gets behind the wheel.
The North Carolina justice system is evidently failing to keep good, honest citizens safe from society’s trash, and the only answer to the problem is to take the trash to the dump.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.