My name is Jason and this blog is about bikes and biking, plain and simple. I don't claim to be a gear head, a former pro, a hipster or an afficionado. I just like to ride my bicycle.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Our Great Injustice System

So I’ve been thinking a lot about justice and our justice system lately. What initially got me started was the very recent shooting at a local middle school here in Lakewood, CO. A guy walks up to kids leaving school. He asks them if they go to the school, and after they reply he starts shooting at kids with a high powered rifle. Shockingly, this individual has been previously arrested or called on for a host of other issues including domestic violence and other misc. firearms charges. While I’m all about the powers of redemption and the belief that people can change…justice implies a set of consequences for actions deemed outside the law. As tragic as this scenario is, fortunately no one was killed. The same can’t be said in the case of Kevin Flock.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Kevin Flock then please read this article on VeloNews, you’ll get to know the man behind the statistic; a senseless victim of neglectful, and irresponsible driving. In short, Kevin was struck from behind while out enjoying a ride alongside a rural roadway in Virginia one morning. A Virginia National Guard recruiter, Aaron Trey Stapleton, out on a long drive from someplace ran Kevin down at speeds in excess of 65 miles an hour. The jury fined Stapleton $500 for improper driving. He killed a man and it cost him $500. As tragic as this scenario is on its own, the sickening aspect of it remained to be told until a week after the trial. A week later Stapleton again found himself back in police custody for guess what: careless driving. This time he drove through a fence and then took off; he also refused a breathalyzer test. So we have a man with apparent issues controlling himself on the road and on top of this, even prior to killing Kevin, Stapleton had a history of reckless driving charges and citations. Brilliantly however, in order to protect the rights of the defendant Virginia law prohibits the admittance of prior ‘improper acts’ as evidence in current criminal trials. The jury let this guy loose after killing a man. Prior authorities before that let him off, despite repeated infractions. No one thought…hey maybe there’s a dangerous pattern here? Well of course not, its just driving. We’ve all driven a little fast, taken some extra chances etc. We can relate to a motorist prostrate before the blind scales of justice. We can’t relate to gun toting kid shooters these people are just wackos and nut jobs. Criminals shoot children…anyone can have an ‘accident.’

After the Deer Creek shooter was arrested people again began clamoring for more stringent gun control rules: if we could keep the guns out of the hands of criminals maybe we’d be safer. Well in the case of Kevin Flock he wasn’t shot. The doctor in California who purposefully stopped his car in front of two cyclists descending a steep canyon road never intended to shoot anyone. He chose to use his car as a weapon. While we seem to be a society with no shortage of laws on the books, seemingly for the protection of you and I, we also put into place an elaborate legal apparatus for the plea bargaining, negotiation, and settling of criminal charges. Hey great, so and so plead guilty for a reduced sentence; he cooperated and we reached a deal. Well Kevin Flock won’t be reaching for anything ever again. So for all our great legal protections, freedoms and liberties, in this case I think justice it swerved.

No comments:

Post a Comment