“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Falling apart

People who get arrested generally fall into three different categories, which you can pretty quickly figure out as soon as you start looking at their records (if not sooner).

One is the career criminal/user - they get into the system early & it's just a constant bounce back & forth for them - pages of history and they know how the game is played.

Another is the one-time mistake - that person who does something stupid at the wrong time, and ends up getting arrested. Hopefully it is the only occurrence in their life & they move on from it, and it's more common than you think the number of people you know who probably have a minor offense in their history. Their but for the grace of God and all that...

But today I'm going to discuss the third type - that person who has had some major event, and all of a sudden they enter the spiral. It could be a spouse leaving or dying, loss of a job or just financial troubles. But something kicks them off the path they've been on their whole life, and now they are starting that circle.

I guess about 90% of the time in my experience the catalyst will be drugs or alcohol or both - the person starts using something to cope with what has happened, the sudden loss of control as they are cast adrift, the only way they can numb the pain. And unfortunately this abuse quickly leads them into other problems.

I've seen someone take their lives from being a successful high-school teacher to living on the street as a prostitute, in less than a year, all because of a crack cocaine addiction.

Watched someone else smoke and snort away a house, a car, a job and a family because their new boyfriend got them hooked on stuff, and it made dealing with a disability that much easier.

And, most recently, watched someone take themselves from 50 years of a spotless life, to multiple alcohol and driving offenses in a span of a few months once his wife left him.

For me, at least, the saddest part of these kinds of cases is the way things end. Your career criminals generally bounce in and out of jail, as I said - sooner or later they get a good long stretch away or else they die on the streets & that is that (sad as it is, very few are ever really rehabilitated, but that's another topic.)

Your one-time offenders usually move on & never have to worry about it again - most they have is a good story about a night they spent in jail once for being dumb.

But these folks move from a generally spotless life to serious offenses in such a quick time, I don't think they ever really even comprehend what they are doing to themselves. They go from that first minor arrest all the way to actual felony time - sometimes before the first cases even make it to court. It just surprises me at how quickly a life can fall apart and people can get trapped in their own mistakes.

Unfortunately, I don't have any earth-shattering revelations or fixes in this post... I don't know some magic way to spot these people early and save them from the path they are on, when someone else in the same conditions pulls through just fine.

It's just something I was thinking about following the past week. The sadness of seeing good lives go to waste.


Reggie said...

It's amazing the influence people have on others. They get ya when you are at the weakest point in life and then...bam. It's easier when you know its coming (break up) cuz you can at least prepare for it. I started smoking cigs. when things got rough and now I gotta quit again. When you go through hard times its easier to fall on a crutch I guess. Thank God that's all I started up though.

Pagan Blacksmith said...


June 19, 1989 I made a stupid mistake. I was 21, young, dumb and filled with more arrogance than brains. Being in the Army at that time in your life can do that to a young man with no mentor to follow.

Long story, shortened, is that I stole a car. I was intoxicated did not feel like walking all the way back to the barracks. I saw a running car that had been left unattended. So...

Anyway, here it is, almost 20 years later and I am STILL being followed around by that damned felony conviction. I'm trying to apply for a pardon. The hoops one must jump through are amazing. I have to account for every job, every apartment, etc for the last 20 years. And you can not apply for a pardon within ten years of your release from parole or probation.

I have contacted a lawyer here in OKC about a pardon. He has stated he can help for $3000.00. And there will be no guarantee. I don't like the idea of forking out $3k with nothing to show for it, but his word to give his best effort. And it all will still be up to a Pardon and Parole board, then to a Governor.

No way to recover. Here is the real kicker, though. I have a job opportunity where I will nearly double my income. That in turn will more than double my taxes paid on that income. But a security clearance is required. Which I am ineligible for as long as I am not pardoned or expunged for my past transgressions.


Captain Tightpants said...

PB - I've read your writings on this in the past - yours is one of those I wish I had the great solution for. The bad part is, I can think of plenty of cases like yours - an isolated incident of stupidity that gets plead down to a misdemeanor so it doesn't follow someone like yours has. Hell, I'm far from perfect myself, so I certainly won't throw stones.

All I can say is keep plugging away at it - people have gotten far worse things removed from their records & I think you should be able to do the same.

Hope to have more thoughts on this later, working a little slow right now.