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