Tag Archives: Crime

What Justice? Where?

It is my opinion that the justice system does not, and will never work.

Take the Stayner brothers for example.  7 year-old Steven Stayner was abducted by Kenneth Parnell, kept in captivity and sexually abused for seven years before he escaped.  The return to his family was fraught with adjustment difficulties.  The family did not receive trauma counselling.  Sadly, Steven died at the age of 24 in a bike accident.

The older brother, Cary Stayner, later landed up on death-row as a convicted serial killer.  He was sexually abused during his childhood but never told.

Kenneth Parnell was a paedophile with previous convictions and sentences.  For the Stayner kidnapping he received a seven-year sentence of which he served only five.  After his release and already quite advanced in age, he tried to buy another little boy.  For this he was sentenced 25 years to life under California’s three strikes law.  This law and not his crimes, finally removed him from society.

A stranger tale cannot be conceived but it serves to highlight some problem areas:

  • The Accused.  How is man with Kenneth Parnell’s background given seven years for the crime he committed against Steven Stayner?  He received equally light sentences for his other offenses.  It is because they only charged him with the kidnappings, never for the sexual offenses.  We must keep in mind though that some things have changed since the 70’s.
  • Defence Liars (exceptions excluded).  Who defends a man like Parnell, and why?  Okay, so the court appoints an attorney to defend the accused because every man has that right, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  But to defend him as though you want him back on the street?  As though he is innocent?  Come on!  And if a Liar is highly paid for defending someone like Parnell, his crime is the greatest.
  • Counselling.  Would Cary Stayner have turned into a murderer had he received trauma counselling?  For something as little as an armed robbery my family had to.  It is virtually impossible to deal with trauma, to file away what had happened and to have a healthy mental outlook afterwards without it.  Apparently it was offered to the Stayner family at some point, but rejected.  Again, in the 70’s the importance of counselling was not yet understood.  Of course I do not know if Cary would have killed had he properly dealt with Steven’s disappearance but I do know that if the family had been helped to work through the loss and eventual return of Steven, they would have been better equipped to deal with their emotional losses and wounds.  Cary stated that he felt neglected during the years his parents were grieving for Steven, and this is normal in most households where parents lose a child.  In fact, the disappearance of a child is almost worse than a death because the bereavement never reaches its logical conclusion.  Cary also said that upon Steven’s return they had to share a bedroom and that he resented that.  He was jealous of all the attention and gifts that Steven received.   The child needed help.
  • Evidence.  The business of not entering into evidence ALL known facts about the defendant misleads the jury.  It is impossible for them to fully understand the accused, what drives him and what his habits are if half of the facts are inadmissible.
  • The Jury System.  It is difficult enough to have a husband and wife agree on important issues, how much harder for twelve people?  And ‘a jury of your peers’ is a laugh.  A peer is someone of a similar age, race, education and background.  Someone who can identify with you.  [Definition of Peer: one that is of equal standing with another: equal; especially: one belonging to the same societal group especially based on age, grade, or status].  It therefore stands to reason that in a shoplifting trial, real peerage would mean that the jury is made up of shoplifters.  Who knows?  Perhaps they would actually give a proper and fair verdict.  In a first-world society I believe that a judgement by a judge (????) is far more accurate.  A person with knowledge of the law and hopefully, a good insight into human behaviour.  In third-world countries unfortunately, it opens itself up to abuse like threats and bribery.

So what is the solution to the lack of justice?  I think that after examination it becomes clear that there is none.  We live in an imperfect world, populated by imperfect people who implement imperfect systems based on imperfect ideas.

Because of that we will always have those who are imprisoned innocently as well as the guilty walking free.  The only hope is if everybody, from the lowliest cop right up to the judge, and further onto the lawmaker, strives for the truth.

John 8:32  “…… and the truth shall set you free”.



How far does the sentence “I am Sorry” go?

I suppose you will think that it depends on the size of the wrong.  That a big transgression needs more than just “I am sorry” but that it would suffice for something smaller.

This is not true.  Most families carry specific injustices through the blood lines, so much so that they become part of the character of that clan.  When people get together, they inevitably bring up those incidents to re-hash them.  We have one in our family that has been with us for 35 years.  Every once in a while someone brings it up and everyone gets angry all over again. We all call for the punishment for the perpetrator, for justice!   Then the matter will die down for a while and in time rear its ugly head once more.  Never to end.

Well, yesterday was such a day.  The children of my generation again confronted someone from our parent’s age group about a wrong he did us and has yet to confess to.

And let me say here, it was no small matter, he molested us and it caused baggage that we had to drag around with us all these years like bitterness, unforgiveness, unkindness and others too hideous to mention.

There is nothing worse than family members gossiping about one another and harbouring collective resentment.  It causes rifts among people and divides relations.  I always think about those that have passed on, the elders.  How would they have felt had they been alive to see this?  And what
if they do see it?  It must cause them great pain when their children and grandchildren murder one another in thought and word.

I believe in forgiveness.  Without it we become bitter and twisted and it manifests itself in our bodies as disease.  I am not suggesting that it is easy to
forgive.  Even if you truly set your mind to it, you might still have to forgive the same person a 100 times a day for the rest of your life.

Forgiveness is given a huge boost if the offender can say that he is sorry.  By doing that, he throws the ball back in your court and gives you the freedom to decide for yourself what to do.  It puts the onus on you.

Confession brings relief.  Think of those stories where the victims of crime have had the opportunity to confront their perpetrators in jail.  And the tears when the wrong-doer admits guilt and apologizes.  Of course it does not diminish the crime nor does it erase the effects.

Whenever I watch a show on the Crime Channel, I always wish that the accused would confess to the crime and spare the family the horrid lengthy trial where at the end, they will still wonder whether the person did or did not commit the crime.  Owning up brings closure.  It builds a curb at the end of the road.  The victim is thus given the option of stepping over the curb, pretending that the road carries on, or to be done with the matter.  It empowers them and therein lays justice.  And justice is such an important principle that the legal profession exists to uphold it.  Everyone longs for justice, we are just wired that way.

Under special circumstances, for instance if the wrongdoer has died, the victim can still find release without a confession.  You can stand two chairs facing one another, sit on the one and pretend the dead person is sitting on the other.  Then go ahead and tell them exactly what you think of them, how what they did affected your life and what you felt the consequences were.  Once you have put it out there, have said everything you would have said had the person really been there, and have  screamed or cried or whatever was needed to deal with the emotions that surfaced, you can say:  “I forgive you”.  If you really mean it, you will find peace, even if you have to say those three words for another month or two.

To come back to my point.  Yesterday this family member phoned the ‘children’ involved and apologised for what he had done.  I thought that they would be
flip and kid around like we always do.  Instead, they very seriously told me that they cannot believe the weight that had rolled off their shoulders.  It is true.

On the downside, what are we going to joke about now that this matter has been resolved and forgiven?