Bored, alone, and bound to a wheelchair due to an illness, Ronald, who is already in his fifties, spends most of his time indoors. He is a fairly good and responsible guy, so occasionally, a family member, neighbors, and friends would drop by to check on him, help tidy up his scruffy apartment and give him food and groceries. However, because there was very little to do and he was so bored, he spent most of his time surfing the internet. Because the internet is a world without boundaries, he eventually explored adult pornography and started looking at teenage models and child pornography.
He then met someone online whom he exchanged files with on child pornography, not knowing that his activities are already being monitored. He was arrested and was charged with a criminal case for possessing and distributing adult pornography files. It was an automatic five years imprisonment. Now, he is housed in a federal prison under special housing conditions because he is bound in a wheelchair. And because of his illness, he is also undergoing expensive medical services. All of these expenses are being shouldered by the taxpayers.
He is a good man without any previous criminal records or even a minor misconduct. What he did was a simple error in judgment probably brought about by lack of sociability, loneliness and a feeling of hopelessness due to his medical situation. Ronald was a good man and poses no threat to anyone in his community. He could have been permitted to remain in his apartment devoid of internet access and things could have taken a better turn for his life.
Martin had just graduated from high school and was already working full-time at an automotive shop. He was a relatively responsible kid. He is 18 years old, and just like any other teenager, he became captivated with a girl whom he met through friends. He still did not know everything about her, not even her real age, but he assumed they were about the same, as he met her through friends. His affection for the girl became a mutual thing and their relationship eventually became sexual.
It was a completely consensual act. However, when the girl’s father found out that his 16-year-old daughter was having a sexual relationship with Martin, he became enraged and filed a criminal complaint against the boy. The case filed was for carnal knowledge of a minor and statutory rape. Martin was taken by authorities to jail on a Friday and spent an extremely difficult and traumatic weekend in prison. He was completely shaken, having no previous delinquency records; he has never had encounters with law enforcers.
His parents had to hire a lawyer to get him out, but when they reached the jail facility, they found out that he has been transferred to another prison. This means it took a couple more days to process the paper work to bond him. The boy was convicted of a felony and put in jail for his lack of discretion – an experience that will traumatize him for the rest of his life.
The point here is that the penalties laid out for both Ronald and Martin’s offenses were too grave for their misconduct. Taking into consideration their background and the context of their offense, they should not be paying such huge punishments as a consequence of their poor error in judgment. There are others like them who suffer the same fate. These two cases clearly show the importance of carefully evaluating the suspect of the crime and not just looking at the offense in black and white, in order to lay out an appropriate penalty for their misdemeanor.
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