Saturday, March 26, 2005

Saturday Puppy Pic

I couldn't find the disk with the pictures I wanted, so I took the easy way out. Here's a picture of one of Wyatt's cohorts...Miss Dollie...or as she prefers to be known, Her Highness Queen Dollie, Mistress of All the Known Universe. All Hail Queen Dollie!

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Miss Dollie's favorite saying: Dogs have masters, Cats have servants.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Florida Sex Offender/Predator Registry

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement provides a link to their Sex Offender/Predator database. You can look by name, full or partial, or geographic area (city, county, zip). It might be worth your while to check to see how many predators live in your area. If you don't live in Florida, here is a link to your state.

Remember on thing: just because a sex offender lives in your area doesn't mean that you have the right to harass them or try to run them out of your neighborhood. Take appropriate precautions such as being sure your doors are locked at night. Know where your children are, what they are doing, and who they are with. Make sure younger children are always supervised. Teach children how to react when strangers approach them or snatch them. If an incident happens in your neighborhood, let the authorities investigate and handle it, don't be vigilantes. It might not be handled as quickly as you would like, but they want to be sure the right person is brought to justice and all the "i's" dotted and "t's" properly crossed so that the person is prosecuted, not persecuted. And most of all, and maybe hardest for some, use common sense.

A horrible thing happened to Jessica Lundsford. Florida's laws with sexual offenders/predators have to be reviewed, but we must remember that even the lowest of the low, have certain rights and are assured of certain Constitutional guarantees. We might not like it, but that's the way it is. Would I like a child predator living near me? Absolutely not, and I don't have children. I never met Jessica, but like her father, I would like just a few minutes with Couey. I can't describe the rage I feel when I think of what that child went through.

Yes, a truly horrible thing happened and the best way to make sure Jessica and other children like her don't die in vain is to review the current law and make any changes necessary to protect our children. Sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. it just doesn't happen. Should sex offenders be required to where monitoring devices? I don't know. It might be a start, but I don't know that it's an answer.

The best way to protect our children is to monitor them. As I said before, know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. Monitor your home security. Make sure doors and windows are locked, especially at night. Use common sense.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Living Wills

I'm truly sorry to be seeing all the chaos surrounding Terri's life. She's being torn between husband and parents, one court and another, between life and death.

I'm not going to write on whether she should live or die. Yes, I have opinions, but I want to write on a related topic. Living Wills. This whole mess could have been avoided if Terri had a Living Will. It's difficult thing to discuss. It's something no one wants to discuss because it it's hard and people are afraid talking about certain subjects might "jinx" them. How many times have you heard someone say, "we were just talking about that and now it's happened." Of course, it's seldom a pleasant thing.

If you don't have a living will, shame on you! I found a site that might make things a little easier for you and your loved ones. It's the US Living Will Registry. Registration is free and you will receive a labels to attach to your driver's license and insurance cards to show you have registered a living will. A doctor or hospital will be able to contact the registry and see what your wishes are. It takes the responsibility off your loved ones in a time of extreme emotion and pain and ensures that your wishes are respected.

This is important enough that I will put a link on the sidebar. Please, if you haven't done it yet, make a living will. Today.
Death Penalty

Doyle left a comment in my post on the Jessica Lunsford case. I thought it was a good point for discussion, and decided that it merited a post rather than just answering in comments. I said that I go back and forth on the death penalty. You'll just have to read the post for more on that.

Doyle replied: It's like being pregnant: Either you are are you aren't.

I have to disagree. Pregnancy is a physical issue. The death penalty is an emotional/intellectual issue based on your morals, your upbringing, your education, your life experiences, and your religious choices. I agree that every crime must be punished, and some deserve the ultimate punishment, so I guess on that point I am for the death penalty. Some crimes, especially those against children, are the ones where people have the least problem with the death penalty. Crimes against the elderly are also hot buttons. Kill a child or a senior citizen and the death penalty comes into play. And it should.

But why should the killing of a person who is neither a child nor a senior citizen be treated any differently? The prosecutor cannot ask for the death penalty in every case. It would cheapen the use of the death penalty for one thing, and if it were applied, we couldn't possibly house all the inmates. And when the death penalty is on the table, it's the jury who has to make the decision whether to sentence this person to death or not. And sometimes, it has to be a compromised decision for life instead because someone on the jury agrees to the guilt, but cannot or will not agree to vote for guilt if the death penalty may be applied.

In 1978, I was on a jury in a trial where a 15-year old was charged with 2 counts of first degree murder. The prosecutor had put the death penalty on the table. This was a case were there was no doubt that the defendant committed the crimes. We ultimately voted for guilt on both counts, but only one was first degree, the other was second degree. I remember the second count was a compromise, but I don't remember the details. This was nearly thirty years ago, after all. Was either life more important than the other? No, it was the circumstances of the crime that dictated the difference. The death penalty would apply on the first degree, but not the second.

We got to the sentencing phase. Prior to this trial, I was in favor of the death penalty. No doubt about it. I was young and still saw most things in black and white. But the longer I sat on that panel, looking at a 15-year old every day for more than a week, I wasn't sure I could cast that vote. Listening to the defendant's father plead for his son's life didn't make it any easier. And I knew that hearing the victims families would turn me inside out. The judge finally took it out of our hands. I don't know whether he knew he would not impose the death penalty in any case, or just in this case, but he made the decision that the defendant would spend the rest of his life in prison.

To this day, I don't know what I would have decided. And neither does anyone else who has not been on a death penalty jury. Sure, most of us say that we would vote this way or that way. But until you've been there and done it, you truly don't know.
Allah or Jesus

I found this via American Warmonger. It's also found on the prison ministry Mission Gate Prison Ministry web site. It was written by Rick Mathes and says something I think needs to be remembered. It put into words what I had wanted to say, but for some reason, couldn't.


I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance and during the training session there was a presentation by three speakers who represented the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths who explained their belief systems. I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say.

The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers. When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked: “Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that all of the Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"

There was no disagreement with my statements and without hesitation he replied, "Non-believers!"

I responded, “So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to heaven. Is that correct?”

The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, “Yes.”

I then said, “Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Pat Robertson or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to heaven.”

The Imam was speechless.

I continued, “I also have problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question…would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and wants you to be with me?”

You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.

Chuck Colson once told me something that has sustained me these 20 years of prison ministry. He said to me, “Rick, remember that the truth will prevail.”

And it will!