Friday, January 16, 2009

Fatherhood as it applies to armed robbers

It’s easy to demonize criminals, especially the hardened, career types.

There have been times when I covered a sentencing and thought an old-fashioned Singapore caning would be the most appropriate punishment. But, every now and again, you get a reminder that these people are, well, people.

For example, I was at a sentencing a couple of years ago. I don’t want to say the felon's name. I don’t even want to say the court lest I should get the public defender in trouble. But this guy wasn’t on his first trip around the Ferris wheel.

It was armed robbery this time. After the firearm spec, he was going to see more than a decade in prison, and he knew it. He just had one request. He wanted to hold his infant daughter once. The next time he would hold her, she’d probably be old enough to date, so he wanted that one moment.

It’s difficult to be cynical while watching a repeat felon coo over his child. I’m not saying that the guy didn’t deserve his long prison sentence; but, in that moment, I realized that armed robbers can be affectionate (if unstable and, now, absentee) fathers.
--Jason Lea


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