By January 9, 2007

Protect the innocent. Punish the wicked.

The world would be a much better place — and much sparsely populated — if we lived by those two rules. There are a handful of other important ones, like “treat others as you would like to be treated,” and “assume every firearm is loaded,” but you get the idea.

So with that in mind, it made my heart sad to read that LaShaun Harris was acquitted of the murder of her three children. She threw them off a pier to drown in San Francisco in 2005. I was working that day. Within the confines of my air-conditioned, bay-view corner cube office I could look out and see the body of water that consumed three innocent children.

Harris was found innocent by reasons of insanity. She was convicted of assault, and may be convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter. Her sentence may put her in prison the rest of her life. I hope the jury will do the right thing, and execute my second rule to the utmost.

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3 Comments on "Protect the innocent. Punish the wicked."

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  1. Stomper says:

    While I tend to be sympathetic toward the psychologically and mentally impaired, I agree with Doc. The sympathy vote is not acceptable in this case.

    The most damning part of the news blurb is: “According to her lawyer, Harris was placed in a psychiatric hospital six times between February 2004 and August 2005, and her mother warned a social worker that she would hurt her children. But the social worker didn’t believe her, Caffese said.” Schizophrenia is at least controllable in most people — if they chose to adhere to the medical guidelines provided to them. Being in and out of the psych hospital 6 times in a year and a half implies that she wasn’t complying. Meds are expensive, maybe she couldn’t afford them, but if she couldn’t take care of herself, she shouldn’t have been caring for 3 children. And if the problem was that with whatever degree of mental retardation she didn’t understand the consequences of not complying with schizophrenia treatment — again she shouldn’t have been caring for 3 children.
    She should spend the rest of her life locked up somewhere — prison or psych hospital — she doesn’t deserve leniency.

    On the other hand, by the damning statement, the system and specific people within the system failed those children as well. And those people have some culpability too. And the system fails a second time if they don’t hold those people responsible for their inaction.

  2. cymwyd says:

    Part of the problem is our society’s view that being the biological parent trumps everything else, regardless of how pathetic the biological parent might be. The rights of the kids are secondary to the mere existence of the biological parent. In this sense, children remain chattel. Given how easy it is to become a biological parent and yet avoid all responsibility…it’s a wonder we don’t have more cases like this.

  3. drfaulken says:

    She was convicted on three counts of second-degree murder, each count carries at least fifteen years in prison. I don’t know if that will give the judge room for putting her in an institution or straight up prison. I’m hoping for the latter, but that’s the vengeance speaking.