548 The question is.... Handling freedom.


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

Did you read Alexis Bechman's excellent article about the long criminal career of a Payson man that ended on Monday — for now at least — with aggravated sentences totaling 18 years in prison?

Douglas Henneman pleaded guilty to six felony convictions, including an armed robbery at a bank ATM, theft of a vehicle from an automotive repair shop, home burglaries, pawning stolen jewelry, and snatching a purse from a customer’s cart at Walmart, then stealing her car, and charging $1,360 on her credit cards.

Besides being high, Henneman committed these acts while on probation according to the presentencing report, which Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill no doubt took into consideration in separating Hennemen from society long enough to allow him plenty of time to decide whether or not he wants to be part of that society when he gets out, or a part of a permanent prison population.

Henneman, like most people in this world, is neither all good nor all bad. According to the report, he “...has been capable of being a law-abiding citizen for extended periods in the past.”

Like many people who get into trouble one way or another, he was placed on rehab to help him understand his choices, but reconnected with “negative peers,” left the facility, dropped out of sight, and began using drugs he apparently could not handle.

Is this the way to handle the down side of freedom? Do the best you can to help those who cannot handle freedom, punish them when needed, and if worse comes to worse separate them from society?

Instead of what? Instead of making freedom — in the form of drugs and so many other things — illegal, and punishing society as a whole for the problems of a few.

The question is....

Which is worse, what we have now, with our prisons filled with people, the majority of whom were either arrested for trying to make an illegal profit or were caught with small amounts of a banned substance, or eliminating illegal profits, working with those who need help, and emptying the prisons except for those who cannot handle freedom?

The choice is yours. Which way do you think we should go?


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

By the way, just in case anyone wants to know how I would handle people who can't live within reasonable laws I'll tell you something I have been saying for 70 years now, ever since I was ten years old.

Buy a BIG island somewhere, far from the nearest land. Take incorrigible repeat criminals, put them on it, and forget them. NO contact whatsoever. NONE! No communication of any kind. No one on the island but the criminals.

And there they stay! Put a special sea patrol around the island with a 40 mile wide dead zone. If you are in it, you're dead.

I am dead serious. If some people want to live by their own rules, let them do it. Let them! Let them enjoy living with other people who think the same way they do. Just one thing more. Since this would be both men and women, sterilize them.

It would work. It's cheaper than what we have now. And in an odd sort of way, it's also quite fair.


Pat Randall 3 years ago

Tom, Best thing you have ever written. Same thing I have been saying for years. Maybe dump them on Alcatraz just the way it is. No improvements.


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

Thanks, Pat.

It's a shame that there are some people who just cannot handle the freedom that we have. Don't ask me who said it, but someone — maybe a lot of people — have said that with freedom comes responsibility. It's just too doggone easy to cheat and steal. Our police officers do the best they can, but they can't be everywhere at the same time. So there are many times when individuals and businesses are very vulnerable, and there are types who seem to be unable to realize the harm they do to others when they go outside the law just to get their hands on money.

We should be very careful about condemning anyone to prison — or wherever — for life, but it seems that the only way to protect ourselves is to separate some people from society forever. It would give the police a chance to focus more on the "protect" of "to serve and protect," and less on chasing down and arresting the same people over and over again.

And you know what? It would be a very great deterrent too. It would really make people think. No more revolving door. If you show that you are a lifetime criminal then you have made a choice. Off you go.

And I am very serious about a large, remote island with no contact with civilization at all. Let them live with each other. If they prefer a dog-eat-dog society then let them have it. I feel that would be fair enough, don't you?

If nothing else, it would force them to work for a living. There would be no more chance of getting caught, living on the rest of us for a while, and getting back out to do it all over again.

We have to do something. What some people are for now — eliminating freedom as a means of creating a "safe" world — is just not working. And I don't think it ever will, do you?


Pat Randall 3 years ago

There is a law against driving drunk. How many people do you know that have gone to jail for the so called mandatory law of a year in jail on the first charge? I know 2 people that each had 4 tickets, before they went to jail. Ran out of money for attorneys? No they both used court appointed attorneys didn't cost them anything. I know a woman that got 2 tickets in less than a month. She spent 6 months at tent city during the summer and hasn't had a drink since. She said if being there in the summer time didn't teach you something, nothing would. I am not talking about people that wreck or run over someone. I am saying driving drunk,


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

Right, Pat!

I have always said that we should punish people for what they DO, not for what they MIGHT do. Sitting in a patrol car outside a bar at closing time and pulling someone over for some phony "too wide turn" is crap! When someone is REALLY drunk it doesn't take some breathalyzer test to tell you about it.

My oldest brother, Bill, who was the smartest person I ever knew — God bless him! — got just one drunk driving ticket in his life back in Connecticut when he was about 30. He "side-swiped a slow-witted stone wall on the wrong side of the road that just could not seem to get out of the way" (as he often put it). Connecticut law is (or was; who knows what it is now?) simple. Eight points on your license, no license for a year. Drunk driving? Eight points. Bill did without his license for a year. Never drank and drove again.


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