Sentencing and Corrections
Prison Upgrades: The Real Issues

Criminal Justice System as Parent

The Paris Hilton story reminded me of something I've long thought: As parents stepped out, the criminal justice system has stepped in. 

Most people in criminal courts are not there for serious crimes.  Most are crimes that "involve drama," or as I articulately put it, "stupid shit."  You'll see someone in court and all you can think is, "Why they Hell did you do that?"  The problem is that people do such stupid shit because no one ever taught them any differently.  They didn't have any guidance at home.  If dad was around, he was probably boozing in front of a television.  Moms of criminal defendants tend to be overly forgiving.  "My baby can't do no wrong!" 

Do this: Go into any criminal court in the country during a person's first appearance.  Count the number of people wearing a suit or even business-casual clothing.  When I first saw a full courtroom, I almost wept.  "No one," I thought to myself, "was ever told that you should wear a suit to court."  Think that through.  Many people go through their entire lives without anyone guiding them, telling them basic things like, "Appearances matter."  Imagine what other lessons they must have missed out on?

Parents are supposed to provide guidance and offer accountability.  When that's lacking, people do dumb things.  Thus, Paris Hilton.

Hilton was driving on a suspended license.  She could have afforded a private driver.  But throughout her entire life, no one told her, "No."  No one offered her any accountability or guidance.  Two human animals spawned her, but she didn't have parents in any meaningful sense.

While it's hard to feel sorry for someone like Hilton, I do.  Her parents must have stepped out of her life at an early age.  "Here's the credit card, doll.  We'll be skiing in the Alps!"  And so the criminal justice system has stepped in.