A Friend Who Was a Victim of a Vicious Crime and the Rule of Law

 By Ross Parker

A friend named Carolyne was a victim of a vicious and brutal crime last week.

Such a crime is especially distressing when its victim is such a gifted and empathic

person who has dedicated her life to making a difference in the lives of kids at risk.

Her advice and guidance have placed many children on the right path to productive lives.

This is not another Detroit crime story. Or even one that occurred in these United  States. It happened in Africa.

When I retired a few years ago, my Dad gave me some advice. “Don’t spend all of your time in pool halls.” He was joking because I never was very good at the game, but I have nevertheless attempted to follow his advice. This has led to meeting some amazing people, some here and some in other countries. Most of the time our interaction has had little to do with crime, but after three decades in the criminal justice business, it’s hard not to notice. Hence some columns on Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, as well as a bunch on the U.S. of A. This is another one.

Carolyne lives in a poor but peaceful country with a lot of good people, men and women, who are dedicated to improving the lives of their countrymen and women, and especially for the next generation. They are of different faiths, but they look up to America and are invariably friendly to visiting Americans.

But every nation has crime. It’s what is done in reaction to crime that matters.

Carolyne was attacked in her home by a gang of burglars and killers and badly beaten. The same group killed another woman earlier in the evening. The police were remarkably efficient and picked up one of the perpetrators in a short time.

After a session at the police station that satisfied the officers that they had the right guy, he was taken out to a field and killed.

The execution was not done by vigilantes or rogue cops. It was deliberately videotaped by law enforcement officers for their future use in presenting in graphic fashion the penalty for such crimes. The objective was deterrence, and it is hard to argue with its efficiency, at least when the police are right and the crime merits such a punishment.

Those who love Carolyne have mixed emotions about this ending. Mostly they are glad she is recovering and will hopefully soon be back at her school helping kids.

America has an imperfect criminal justice system, an unacceptably high crime rate, disparity and discrimination among similarly situated accused, and a sometimes tedious and laborious process of determining guilt or innocence.

 But whatever its imperfections, we have for over two centuries carved out the rule of law. And there are thousands of men and women who risk their lives daily to maintain and improve that rule of law. People who, in addition to doing their best to secure our safety, also protect the principle of every person’s right to a fair and meaningful day in court and a result that is reasoned and based on the law of this nation.

No criticism is intended of this African country. In fact, I am a great admirer of the country and its people. It would be presumptuous to moralize on an entirely different culture, with a different set of problems and a different history. I will leave to their citizens the judgment of how to protect the innocent and to punish the wrongdoers.

But I am reminded of the first time I stood outside the United States Department of Justice Building in Washington and read the inscription:

 No Free Government Can Survive that is not

Based on the Supremacy of the Law.

Where Law Ends, Tyranny Begins.

Law Alone Can Give us Freedom.

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