So, if the police apprehend the person who broke into our Community Health Services building early last Sunday morning and then again on Sunday afternoon, what will happen to him? [Please refer to yesterday's entry if you're lost at this point! ]
If we decided to press charges, he would be held for several weeks in the county jail. Most likely the authorities would discover that he has a record already. He will be poor and, most likely, strung out.
Since he won't be able to afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent him at trial. No doubt his attorney will already have more cases than she or he could possibly manage in a fair manner. The combination of the public defender's case load and the overcrowded docket at the courthouse will likely lead to a plea bargain of some kind.
Bottom line: our burglar is going to prison for several years.
While serving time with the Texas Department of Corrections, our neighbor will not have access to counseling, drug rehabilitation or much of anything else that is really positive.
I know, I know. The guy robbed us! But, if our goal is to see him get out a changed person, we may need a better approach. Most likely the old strategy already has failed with our friend.
Unless a person is highly motivated and really focused on self-improvement, the current prison system just doesn't work very well at all.
Forgive me, but I couldn't help recalling a story I read last week in The Wall Street Journal ( "Imprisonment Doesn't Bar Pay for Select Group of CEOs," Wednesday, March 2, 2006, B1-2).
Joann S. Lublin led her story with these lines: "For a few executive felons, serving time is a lot like a paid leave of absence. They are being paid by the companies they once led while completing their sentences."
Among the "corporate cons" who pile up great pay while paying their debt to the rest of us is Martha Stewart. Though she has drawn no pay while in prison for lying to federal investigators, her guaranteed salary and bonus of at least $1.4 million resumed when she was released.
Andrew Wiederhorn, former CEO of Fog Cutter Capital Group, Inc., will pocket $5.5 million after serving 18 months for pension-law and income-tax felonies.
Steve Madden, CEO for Steven Madden, Ltd., earned $700,000 annually for almost four years while in prison for stock fraud and money laundering.
The juxtaposition of these corporate celebrities with our neighborhood vandal is interesting, isn't it?
Each of these people put their own self-interest above that of their communities, right? Each would most likely attempt to explain and justify what they did.
Like the high-profile, corporate crooks, if caught, our neighbor will likely end up behind bars.
I expect his treatment there would be quite different from that of Martha Stewart. And I know for a fact no one will be holding pay checks for him upon his release.