Posts Tagged ‘Colt Lundy

21
Feb
11

shackles

 

“I guess this means I’m family,” I said, after Eva handed me the near-empty chocolate ice cream container and a spoon.

Jerry’s the only other person I’ve seen eating the remains of an ice cream batch out of that container. I felt honored, and Eva wasn’t even going to charge me.

Eva claimed there wasn’t enough ice cream left to fill a single order, but I’m not so sure of that. It seemed like a regular double-order to me, except this time I had to pay attention and not get chocolate on my forearm (brown knuckles were unavoidable).

I like to think of myself as being so damned free and independent, but the truth is my heart is chained to the Shack. I rely on my daily visit there in the same way a prisoner in solitary confinement must rely on his one-hour shackled release to the exercise yard.

There’s a parallel there, but no comparability. My own solitude is so much pleasanter than a prisoner’s.

I’ve been hearing about the anguish being suffered by 15-year-old Colt Lundy now that he is in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. The boy’s torture and mental deterioration have been like uninvited shade-like visitors at the door. I wish they would go away and leave me in peace.

The other night, Colt was so distraught that the only way he could be silenced is the prison authorities shot him up with drugs. These shades are menacing and they will not leave me alone.

I wish I could send the kid some of Eva’s “Love Shack” ice cream. Colt needs a shot or two of love each day, not a solution from a syringe.

I wish the shades would go to Judge Reed’s door instead.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to The Ramones performing “I Wanna Be Sedated”

06
Feb
11

blind justice

This will be a busy week for me.

In recent days it has become clear that the police investigation surrounding the April 20th death of Phillip Danner missed the real story by a mile. The police only turned up a few fragments of truth; whatever they needed to glue these fragments together into a larger picture they either guessed at, fabricated, or misrepresented. As a result, all the proceedings of the Kosciusko County courts—the April 30th waiver hearing and the sentencing hearings in September (for 15-year-old Colt Lundy) and January (for 12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich)—were predicated on an absence of information and outright falsehoods.

Thanks to information provided to us by the Guardians, Paul Henry is temporarily safe at the Pendleton youth prison; however at the Wabash Valley adult prison where Colt is being held, the story is more disturbing. Colt’s treatment within Indiana’s adult corrections system includes barbaric practices which verge on torture. I cannot shake the thought that Kosciusko County Judge Rex Reed specified that both boys were to have served their sentences in this medieval hell hole.

It brings new meaning to the idea of “blind justice.” Not only were the judges’ decisions based on blindness to the true facts in the case, but blindness to the morality of how a just and civilized society should deal with its children who become involved in serious crimes.

I am alarmed, astonished, and ashamed.

I am alarmed that any state in our nation can get away with placing children in harm’s way in institutions where they are at risk of rape, physical violence, and institutional abuse comparable to the stories we hear about the prison system operated by Himmler’s SS.

I am astonished that in a very short time we have been able to uncover the truth that was missed or ignored by the police and not questioned by the Kosciusko County judges.

And I am ashamed that this is happening in my home state of Indiana where my own experiences as a child growing up were filled with advantages that were as great as the injustices imposed on Colt and Paul Henry are abysmal.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Depeche Mode performing “Policy of Truth”

29
Jan
11

poseurs

For the last couple days I have been working on website content for Paul Henry Gingerich’s site. It will serve as a touchstone for anyone who cares to learn about this child, his situation, and ways to support him by becoming involved in a network movement to liberate him from the clutches of the state and make it possible for Paul Henry to redeem his life.

This is a very intense exercise for me because it entails not only familiarizing myself with all of the particulars of his situation—the crime, his arrest and the police investigation, the various court hearings, the details of his incarceration—but also with the particulars of his life including his family, friends, interests, abilities, likes and dislikes, beliefs, personality, etc. It is a “total immersion” process, and I am only at the very beginning of it.

In time—if he allows it—I will know him as few other people do. If we can establish a necessary level of trust and openness, I will occupy a unique role in his life for which he probably has no precedent for immediate comprehension.

His parents and I are in the process of establishing a trust fund for him. It will stick to Paul Henry for the purpose of supporting him through every phase of the personal journey which commenced on the night of April 20th and possibly before. Whether he has needs related to the legal appeal of his court hearings and sentencing, his welfare and education while incarcerated, or his transition from prison to freedom and beyond, this trust fund will be there for him as long as he needs it. His parents and I will serve as co-trustees.

For me, this entails a personal commitment which is as permanent as entering into a marriage, adopting a child, or making a blood oath. No matter what may happen, I can now never abandon him. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health (to borrow a familiar phrase), I am committed ‘for the duration’ to giving the relationship the best I have in me.

It may seem strange, or reckless, or even suspicious, that one should be willing to make such a commitment to a total stranger. When Paul Henry’s mother told him about my involvement, she said he seemed mystified about why some unknown person from so far away should care enough to help.

The justification I offer myself is that I want to live in the kind of world where the kindness of strangers is a potent force. Maybe this is my way of changing the world—but I am no crusader. Yet I have never regretted becoming involved in the lives of Derek and Alex King or any of the other onetime strangers who are now a part of my life.

The only true explanation I can offer is that I am doing this in obedience to what I perceive as Divine Guidance. I do not have gaping holes in my life or psyche which I am attempting to fill by being a do-gooder, no pangs of conscience I am trying to assuage. I have always rolled my eyes at those late-night ads asking for $5 per month to help third-world waifs in return for a photo and periodic reports on a child’s welfare. The idea of it leaves me as cold as the idea of having hundreds of Facebook “friends.”

Speaking of such “friends,” this morning I was out on Paul Henry’s MySpace page researching his life, and I made a curious discovery. All his friends—even 12-year-old Chase Williams—list their ages as 18 or older. What is that about? They’re all poseurs, children pretending to be adults. It seems so ironic that Paul Henry’s childhood has been cut short by his involvement in an “adult crime” and the imposition by a bad judge of “adult time.” There’s probably a lesson there.

You’ve gotta be careful about what you wish for.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to the Glenn Miller Orchestra performing “Wishing (Will Make It So)”

22
Jan
11

colt

The news about 15-year-old Colt Lundy that’s filtering out of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility—the adult prison to which Kosciusko County Circuit Court Judge Rex Reed directed the boy be sent—is very sad. The boy is being held in solitary confinement and has taken to cutting himself, something he had never done to himself before. He is reportedly receiving only a half hour of counseling each week and is set off anytime anyone tries to touch him. His state of mental health appears to be deteriorating.

Attorneys who visited him last week report that whereas Colt’s biological father has been making an effort to visit his son from faraway Arizona, Colt’s relationship with his mother is understandably troubled following his murder of her husband and his stepfather Philip Danner on April 20th.

They said Colt asked how his friends Paul Henry Gingerich and Chase Williams are doing, he was told that Chase’s parents had been arrested on methamphetamine charges and that Chase is living with his grandmother after having been released after a several-month term at the South Bend Juvenile Correctional Facility; and that Paul Henry is serving time at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility. They said tears of relief and regret filled his eyes when he heard the news.

I must admit that on hearing this story, my attitude about this boy who had bullied his young friends into harm’s way—at times shooting them with a BB gun to force their compliance—began to soften. When I shared this information with Paul Henry’s parents (who certainly have greater reason than I to resent Colt), I could hear sadness and compassion in their voices. “I am praying for him,” Nicole said, and I believed her and admonished myself that I should follow her example. Even if everything works out for Paul Henry as I hope it will, it would be a hollow victory if Colt is destroyed by his prison experience.

In my opinion, Paul Henry was denied due process by the prosecutors and judges of Kosciusko County—and Colt was, too. (Other courts have allowed defense attorneys up to a year to prepare for waiver hearings; this court allowed defense attorneys only four business days—an outrage.) For the life of me, I cannot understand how any of these unworthy men—prosecutors Steven Hearn and Dan Hampton, and judges Duane Huffer and Rex Reed—can live with themselves after having subjected these children to such barbaric, unfair, inhumane, and cruel treatment. Their contemptuous use of the law undermines respect for the authority of the state and reinforces the callous and hateful spirit which threatens the survival our society at its roots.

At the same time, Colt Lundy’s experience within Indiana’s adult prison system fills me with profound gratitude that Paul Henry has been spared the same fate because of IDOC’s enlightened decisions so far. I thank God for the man who made the call that Paul Henry would be better and more safely served in Indiana’s juvenile corrections system. It was the first time a judge’s ruling to punish a child in an adult prison had not been followed, and I respect that man’s wisdom, moral backbone, reason, and courage.

It fills me with hope that we can and will do better for all of America’s children—even poor Colt Lundy.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performing “Teach Your Children”

17
Jan
11

good news, bad news

Yesterday I was on the phone almost all day digging into the facts that have not been revealed in the media or in court testimony about the truth of why and how 12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich became involved in Colt Lundy’s plan to murder Lundy’s stepfather on April 20th.

I have learned that a police detective lied on the stand about material facts in the case and misrepresented Paul Henry’s participation in an alleged “plan” to murder Colt Lundy’s stepfather. The playground planning engaged in by the boys was only about running away from home, not to commit murder. The murder was a last-minute change of plan pressed on the younger boys by the older Lundy less than ten minutes before the incident.

Important evidence that would have gone a long way to explaining the social dynamics of Lundy’s posse—and Paul Henry’s role and lack of culpability in events—was never introduced in court.

The more I dig and learn, the more convinced I am that a terrible miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated by the prosecutors and judges in Kosciusko County, Indiana, and that this injustice is about to be compounded by the state by sending this tender young boy to the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility northeast of Indianapolis where, according to a US Department of Justice study released slightly more than a year ago, 36.2% of inmates report having been sexually abused by staff members and other inmates. This study concluded that Pendleton’s rate of youth-reported sexual abuse was the second-highest of 195 youth prisons studied by the federal authorities.

Contrary to what I reported in my January 13th post, I’ve learned the population at Pendleton has fewer than five inmates as young as Paul Henry. Most of the prison’s 300 inmates are much older—up to age 22—they are habitual repeat offenders, gang members and, most troubling, 50% are sex offenders. As is true with most other prisons in the US, approximately 75% have serious mental health conditions.

None of these characteristics match Paul Henry’s profile.

Paul Henry is a normal kid who has never been in serious trouble before. He is not a violent person, he has no mental illness, he is an impressionable “follower” who was bullied and manipulated by Colt Lundy into participating in a tragic incident and, in fact, had tried to talk Lundy out of carrying out his violent intention up until the last moment when Lundy’s stepfather appeared in the doorway and Lundy fired the fatal shots. Paul Henry got caught up in circumstances for which he was unprepared and developmentally ill-equipped to handle.

Here is a 2008 MSNBC program which reveals the frightening conditions within Pendleton that will greet Paul Henry in just a few days:

NOTE: This video has been removed from YouTube because of copyright infringement claims by the producer, who is a friend of ours. I am trying to get permission to post it here if their legal mavens will agree. Try again later. Maybe we’ll luck out!

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4ycTqEEK5M&feature=related

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg_w3sYzD0w&feature=related

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3Py1692CLg&feature=related

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AUDVEgALSU&feature=related

The good news is that while the conditions at Pendleton are better than those at Wabash Valley Correctional Institution, the bad news is that they are likely not survivable for a child as young and naïve as Paul Henry.

The youthful offenders shown in this video are not suitable influences for this small boy who could be successfully rehabilitated were he placed in the South Bend Juvenile Correctional Facility, a medium/very-high security detention center with a smaller, younger, less violent, and less predatory inmate population.

It appears that IDOC’s decision to place Paul Henry in the “crime academy” at Pendleton is a compromise intended to placate the prosecutors and judges of Kosciusko County and avoid the public appearance of being “too soft” on a kid who became involved in a bully’s heinous crime.

But how will their decision play in the media when this small, attractive, and vulnerable boy becomes the victim of a violent sexual predator at Pendleton? If the federal report does accurately reflect Pendleton’s culture, there is an almost 40% certainty that it will happen.

When the full facts of this case become known, it will be shown that Paul Henry chose to enter Lundy’s house in order to protect his friend Chase Williams, whom Lundy had previously threatened with death if Chase did not follow Lundy’s orders. Chase was afraid of Lundy, but Paul Henry was not. He entered the house in Chase’s stead, with no intention of following through on Lundy’s orders.

But things went horribly wrong. Paul Henry was out of his depth that night, just as he will similarly be no match for the terror that awaits him in the jungle at Pendleton.

The eyes of the world will be on Paul Henry and the fate that will be inflicted upon him there. If Paul Henry is hurt in any way, there will be no way for the prison authorities to keep it a secret. There will be no way for them to avoid the severe political consequences of destroying this child.

The state’s focus should be on Paul Henry’s redemption, not retribution. The state of Indiana is embarked on a course that can only make a bad situation worse.

It is not too late for the Indiana Department of Corrections to do better than this. But they must act now before it is too late.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to James Blunt performing “Too Late”

05
Jan
11

lame-brained

What a lame-brained, stupid scheme: kill Colt’s stepdad Philip Danner and then go to Arizona to sell T-shirts to “drug people.” These kids had been planning it for weeks on the school playground, according to police, as only kids could do.

Yesterday the youngest of the two kids Indiana authorities tried as adults, 12-year-old Paul Gingerich, received the same sentence as Colt Lundy, the 15-year-old trigger-“man” and originator of the scheme: 25 years in prison.

A third boy who had been drawn into this idiocy but who had not participated in the actual shooting is being dealt with as a juvenile.

It’s hard to sort out who is the most lame-brained in this whole affair: the kids who, being kids, are still developing and are working with brains incapable of grasping the depth and consequences of their stupidity, or all of the adults involved—the police, prosecutor, judge, parents, school officials, etc.—who should know better. Yet this is a bad outcome, not only for these boys and their families, but for society.

I only learned about this case yesterday when Wolfgang posted a link to the story originating from a TV station in my old hometown of South Bend, Indiana, so I don’t know enough yet to be pointing the finger of blame in any particular directions. However, I do believe there will come a day when we will recognize that such tragedies are the inevitable result of conditioning by the combined effects on children of violent entertainments, mind-numbing and socially retarding schooling, and the breakdown of supportive family structures.

I’m ruing the fact, though, that I have been unaware of this case until now because I might otherwise have been able to help in a more timely way. I still know people in Indiana who might have made a difference (but still can).

I can imagine that the mothers of these boys are crying their eyes out right now in fear and horror of what their children’s futures may hold—but we needn’t go there now because it’s not a hopeful picture. Yet the fact of the matter is that these boys are still children who have not yet been damaged by the system and turned into the brutal criminals they might become by ages 37 and 40 if they were to serve out their full prison terms.

There is still hope, as evidenced by recent Supreme Court rulings and changes in state laws (in surprising places) regarding the prosecution of children.

Maybe change will even come to Indiana. People everywhere are awakening.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Vassar Clements performing “Back Home Again in Indiana”




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 176 other followers