Opinion: Must We Take the Law into Our Own Hands?

Judge's gavel | Image by Andrey_Popov

Every time I see a news story about another grisly crime, committed by someone with a long rap sheet, it makes me realize how vulnerable we are to the criminals in our orbit. Once upon a time, there was something called a “3-time loser,” meaning that someone arrested 3 times for serious crimes would be considered too dangerous to be walking freely among innocent people. That didn’t mean an execution, or a life sentence, unless one of the crimes included murder. However, it did mean that the recidivist criminal would be put away long enough to, either learn that crime didn’t pay or to at least keep the thug off the street for several years.

Not anymore! The justice system, which we pay billions of dollars for every year, does a pathetic job of serving justice. I don’t think I need to supply you with a bunch of statistics, you can see it every day on the news. I’ll just mention the recent murder of Eliza Fletcher, in Memphis, Tenn. The kindergarten teacher, while out for her early morning jog, was attacked and dragged into an SUV, allegedly by Cleotha Henderson, aka, Cleotha Abston, a recidivist criminal who had spent more than half of his life in prison. The 38-year-old suspect had been recently released after serving 20 years of a 24-year sentence for the abduction and robbery of an attorney in 2000.

His rap sheet included 5 charges of aggravated assault, rape, larceny, and additional charges associated with those arrests. Henderson’s original sentencing, after the conviction of kidnapping the lawyer at gunpoint, included a court-ordered decision that he serves 100% of the 24 years due to his violent criminal past. Needless to say, the 34-year-old mother, an avid runner who had qualified for the Boston Marathon, would still be alive today if the system did what it’s supposed to do. Ms. Fletcher became another victim of a feckless system that would be discontinued for gross incompetence if it weren’t for the fact that it’s operated by the government.

We’ve come to a time in our history in which we must conceptualize the fact that we are all potential victims of an unstable structure that merely gives the appearance of safety to its citizens. When Ms. Fletcher left home early in the morning for her usual exercise regimen, she undoubtedly felt safe because it was a routine she had followed for years. How could she even imagine that a savage criminal in the area also had a routine, one in which he stalked possible victims? How could she even imagine that the people responsible for her safety had released a wild animal to prey upon her, and ultimately take her life? There are those who are saying a woman should not have been alone on the street during the dark, early morning hours. Although there might be some logic to that reasoning, women are not the only ones attacked on the streets, and the time of the day or night is not factored into the assaults.

Moreover, it’s obviously a way to blame the victims, rather than their attackers. Yes, everyone should have some responsibility for their own safety! Nevertheless, one has to ask why there are so many violent-prone sociopaths roaming the same areas traveled by law-abiding people. In most states, when a sex offender is released from prison, he/she must be registered as such by local agencies. That provides residents with a warning about the despicable predilections of those in their neighborhoods. Why not have the same registries for the dangerous thugs who have repeatedly proven their unwillingness to become civilized? By the way, another function of prisons is to rehabilitate inmates. Yet, given the fact that most former convicts return to their nefarious pursuits before the ink on their release papers is dry, it’s more proof that we are on our own! Did those responsible for releasing Cleotha Henderson think he was ready to be a respectable member of society?

As for the failed system called “justice,” we can no longer rely on it. Ms. Fletcher relied on it, as do millions of other decent people across this country. Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking that such tragic incidents only happen to other people. I wouldn’t be surprised if the murder victim in this case felt the same way as she tied the laces on her running shoes that morning. Meanwhile, as more violent, unrehabilitated beasts are released into our communities, the same worthless system is demanding that gun owners give up their only means of defense against the creatures stalking them. This is the insanity that masquerades as a benevolent caretaker of our safety.

Every elected official should be on record as a strong supporter of the police and tougher penalties for convicted felons. If you voted for those who have not consistently advocated for laws that protect you, I suggest you think twice about lacing up those shoes. Alternatively, perhaps you should learn how to jog with a gun strapped to your shorts.

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  1. Ronald Reason

    Due to inflammatory opinions like this, I suggest we start with at tougher penalties for these felonies;

    • obstructing an official proceeding;
    • conspiracy to defraud the United States government;
    • knowingly and willingly making a false statement to the federal government;
    • and inciting, assisting, or engaging in insurrection
    • Robert Weir

      Inflammatory opinions are those that believe people should not have a right to defend themselves against the savages that stalk them. Moreover, those who opine against self-defense may be the very stalkers who prey on the innocent.

      • Ronald Reason

        Tragic for sure; but this isn’t a hunt on the Serengeti. The exaggerations in this opinion serve only to convince me that I should carry a gun on my morning jog; lest I be gunned down by either a one-off wacko or someone who just read this piece of paranoia. 

        As for the failed system called “justice”; almost 1000 people have been charged for the insurrection at the US Capitol. Happy Anniversary!

  2. Djea3

    Bob Weir, I can possibly help with your frustration and confusion, It is the SAME shared by millions of US Citizens.

    1. The Supreme Court has RULED that police have NO DUTY TO PROTECT. We therefore do not pay police to protect anyone.
    2. SCOTUS has ruled that police ARE there to investigate and arrest. Therefore they are useless to aid a citizen in any way. Their jobs is to find a REASON to arrest ANYONE and then to turn them over for prosecution ONLY.
    3. Police have NEVER been involved in JUSTICE, only in investigation and arrest.
    4. Justice is handled by the COURTS, however, under our system of adversarial justice, Society is NOT in any way part of the equation.
    5. Remember, if police violate civil rights of an accused, the PROPER result is a NOT GUILTY result. The POLICE can actually harm society easily.
    6. The Police can NOT BE SUED even for violating ciivl rights under color of authority, they are GIVEN AN PERMANENT GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD for anything they do while on duty. IF you want to sue, you must PROVE almost impossible things to gain permission from a higher court FIRST, usually a federal court for local police even, and…you will never get to sue federal police/FBI …ever. They are exempt as well.
    7. The Court allows officers to conflate their testimony and even if caught lying on the stand that same officer can be in court on another case given testimony tomorrow. And Lying or conflating truth. And will NEVER face perjury charges.

    So, if you look at your statements logically, the problem is not what you thought it was, The problem is that you did not understand that police have nothing to do with justice to begin with and in fact dod not understand the system itself. Police have nothing to do with justice, never have, probably never will.

    • Janet

      Well said! I would add that the Justice System, i.e. the Police and the Courts are interpreting and enforcing laws written by the legislature, and Congress. To remain a democracy, the power of citizens must be in their right to vote. Defend yourselves by any means necessary, but don’t forget to vote!


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