Thursday, April 24, 2008

I think I may be an unfeeling bitch

(How's that for an attention grabbing headline?)

So, there's this story about a 10 year old girl with terminal brain cancer who is at death's door and her dying wish is for her father, who has been in prison for 4 years for using meth, to be at her side when she dies.

I feel really, really awful for the kid. Her disease is tragic. The fact that her dad has been in prison since she was six just makes it worse. She got a raw deal, all the way around.

But when he did the crime, he chose the consequences, good and bad, of his actions (just as all of us do with all of our choices every day). His sentence was what it was. Not, "Five years, unless your kid is terminally ill, and then you can get out early..." or "Five years unless you have a death in the family..." or "Five years unless something else happens." It was five years. Period.

What's the point of incarceration (where your rights and your freedoms are removed as a punishment for doing something that society has decided, for whatever reason, is unacceptable) if exceptions are made? When he did meth, he chose to not be available to his family for four years. He chose this. Sure, he didn't choose to have a terminally ill child, and she sure as hell didn't choose to have a meth using father, but tough. I'm glad he says he isn't going to commit crimes anymore, because learning that is supposed to be the entire point of putting people in prison - to teach them that it's better to follow the rules that we've all agreed on than it is to break those rules and lose privileges.

This line in the article really pissed me off:

"Yes, I've made some mistakes, but I've always been a good father."

Bullcrap. Good fathers don't do drugs. He hasn't been there since she was six. That's a hell of a bad father, in my opinion. He doesn't deserve to sit there and think that he's a "good father" when he has been absent for almost 1/2 of his child's life because he made a stupid, selfish choice. Good fathers are there, and he hasn't been there, and it is no one's fault but his own. He is not a good father.

He did end up being allowed to see her, and she died the next day. And I'm actually disappointed that he was allowed out early. And it sucks when what's best for the kid (having the people she wants by her side as she dies) conflicts with what's right (that he serve his sentence) but life sucks sometimes. Plenty of peoples' kids die in accidents every year, and they don't get the option of saying goodbye at all.

I feel terrible that this poor kid had cancer, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel sorry at all for the father. I think that knowing that he wasn't there for his daughter in her greatest time of need and having to live with that for the rest of his life would've been better punishment than any prison sentence could ever be.

And that's, again, the entire point of prison. In fact, I think they allow the visitation and phone calls that they allow to drive the point home that life out here is going on without you in there, Mr. Felon, so you might want to think twice before you do stupid things in the future.

Am I a cold, heartless, compassionless bitch? What do you think about this story? Should he have been allowed out, or should he have been denied his request to see his dying kid?


Michelle said...

I don't have much tolerance for gray area in my life. My life is black and white. Good and bad. He did the crime. He should do the time. I agree that the child with cancer is sad. But I also agree with you - he is not a good father. He should not have been allowed to see his dying daughter. So, save me a seat in the cold-hearted, compassionless section!

Fran said...

That's a tough one to call. I don't think he should have been let out early, but I don't think an escorted visit under the circumstance would have been unacceptable.

I don't think you're cold-hearted and compassionless. You may be a saint compared to me :) I have some pretty strong views on capital punishment that would land me in the fire if the ACLU ever conducted a witch hunt.

Megan said...

I think that when you do the crime, you pay the time (for child abuse/rape/murder). Drugs are a different story. People abuse drugs because they don't know how to feel "normal." Drugs are an addiction and a disease. Just because someone does drugs, it doesn't make them a bad person. It makes them a person with a disease, a disease and no coping skills. To deny this father one more chance to see his daughter would spiral into a new issue. Can you imagine not being able to say that you are sorry to someone after you have hurt them so badly? Especially a person who obviously turned to drugs in order to self-medicate?? He would probably get right back on the meth-wagon. I believe that he should pay for his crime, but four years is a long time to be away from society and family. I think that he has done enough.

Jen said...

Don't get me started. It's all about a choice... I am in complete agreement with you.

All Things BD said...

I just found your blog through Bossy, and I couldn't agree with you more. I did a rant awhile ago about how many people are told the rules, break the rules, and then cry foul that the rules aren't fair.

Whether you believe one should go to jail for drug related charges or not, it is in fact a crime, and you have to face the consequences. If those consequences are that you are not around for your loved ones during their trials and tribulations, that's part of why you don't do those crimes in the first place.

another unfeeling bitch :)

B.J. said...

I think a lot of people would consider me a very "by the book" person and I have to say that, if it were up to me, I would have furloughed him for the a week or two so he could be with his daughter at the end and have his sentenced augmented to make up the time he was out.

A 10 year old child facing their death is tragic enough. If it would give the child more comfort in that time, I don't think that I could live with myself if I denied them that.

That said, not sure how I'd feel if it were a crime involving harm to another person. Moral relativism FTW.