Sunday, August 05, 2007

Why does Libby go free while this kid winds up in prison? Why does Libby go free while Ramsey (a decent man) is banished to life in prison?

DMC's own John Crisp speaks up against injustice.

Hard time in Texas over pot, parole

A friend of mine is an undercover do-gooder who looks for anonymous ways to help those on the lower end of our societal ladder to climb up a rung or two.

A kid who sometimes works in his yard is in trouble with the law, so my friend is supplying some of the encouragement and support that, in a better world, would be part of every kid's birthright. He asked me to come along for the ride to the prison where the kid will spend the next four months.

The trip generated a few questions about our penal system - and about I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

A thousand people live in the prison, set on the hot, brushy coastal plain of deep South Texas. A product of the Texas prison-building boom of the last decade, it doesn't have brick walls and guard towers like Alcatraz; instead, it's an extensive sheet-metal complex surrounded by high chain-link fences and impressive tangles of barbed wire.

It's a serious world of uniforms, guns and rules: Open the trunk, open the hood. Leave all wallets, keys and cell phones in your car. You will not enter the prison without official authorization. Do not take paper money into the prison.

Most of the rules are probably more or less necessary, but I wonder if visitors aren't worked over with a little more attitude than is called for.

Like most people, my friend and I tend to be intimidated by men with uniforms and guns. We show up at a place like a prison already prepared to do what we're told.

But inside, things got tougher.

My friend's name was on the authorized-visitors list and he had been previously vetted by authorities in Corpus Christi. He had his picture ID, as required. But his unusual last name was misspelled on the prison's list and, as a result, he was subjected to a stern lecture and threatened with being turned away after a 140-mile drive.

Of course, the guard eventually let him in; after all, it was just a misspelling.

I had my choice of two places to wait: in my car (in South Texas in July!) or at the picnic table on the far edge of the parking lot. The table had a little shade, so I settled in with a good book.

Soon an older Hispanic gentleman joined me. He had been shooed off the parking lot by a guard who, for some reason, wouldn't allow him to stand next to his car. His disabled wife, his son and he had driven three hours to see his grandson. They had almost been turned away, as well, because of his wife's clothes, even though she had already been allowed inside the prison three or four times previously while wearing similar outfits.

The guard wasn't very nice, the old man said. But after a humbling lecture, he let them in.

But only the wife and son. And while visits are limited to two hours, his wife or son wasn't allowed to come out after the first hour in order to allow him to visit during the second. Why? I don't know.

First question: I suspect that this prison is an efficient, professionally run facility. And prison is a place where structure and discipline are essential. But why not make visiting easy, rather than difficult, since lack of interested human contact is already a significant contributor to many prisoners' incarcerations?

Second question: What's my friend's acquaintance doing in a place like this, anyway, along with murderers, rapists and other hard cases?

He's just a decent kid who got caught with pot. But his big mistake was having wandered down to the convenience store on the corner for a soft drink just when his probation officer happened to show up.

  1. Third question: I'm all for accountability, but why does Libby go free while this kid winds up in prison?

President Bush points to Libby's record of public service. But given that Libby was an inside player during one of the worst governing episodes in our nation's history, and given that all this kid did was have the bad judgment to walk to a convenience store when he should have stayed home, who has done our country more harm?

John M. Crisp teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. E-mail:

Justice is Duck Blind spelled Just Us.

No comments:

The Secretary of State cleared her to run.

I think these guys are going to learn a lesson or two....

from the attorney general down. The Secretary of State cleared Ms Garcia to run. If you read the AG opinion you will know what a crook this guy is when it comes to the little people. Carlos Valdez, I cant see how he would obtain Jurisdiction given there is no criminal act. This matter should be processed through existing administrative law.

A Voter Registration in Kleberg While Residing in Nueces?

The question is, which home was her domicile. I have been to her Apartment here in Corpus Christi, it sure looks like it is her primary residence.

I cannot imagine Carlos Valdez even having anything to do with this case, given his history with Mike Westergren and I am told with Joe Alaniz as well.

If Carlos Valdez prosecutes this lady, he is a fool.

I stand behind her.