It took about three months before I started recognizing the names of perennial offenders.
I’d go to type in a police-log item about a drunk driving incident and wonder if I hadn’t written it before, just the other day.
And I had, a month before, when the same person was charged with basically the same offense.
We all know those people. “What did he do this time?” we ask each other when we hear one of those names mentioned.
Last Christmas I wrote about a man who stole a toy from a casket.
I already knew his name, in for DUI and substance abuse-related charges a number of times in the preceding year.
His family hoped verbally that this was rock bottom, that the shame of what he had done would force him to get a grip, face his demons.
He spent a few months in jail, and it’s been quiet since last December. I don’t know if he really was getting control, or just wasn’t getting caught.
Well, he’s back . Police say he set off an explosion in a car. I think he’s lucky to be alive. But I read the documents and I see a broken man, shattered and shredded with nothing left.
It read like a suicide attempt, fueled by cheap beer and cigarettes and the demons that will not let him go.
He’ll be back in jail, I expect. Still on probation from last year, charged now with felony crimes, it’s pretty much a given. But I don’t think that will make any difference.
I’m typing his newest crimes and glance through the list of other names and charges waiting for a quieter afternoon. I know too many of those names now.
And there’s something wrong with a system where studies can claim a third of young adults have been arrested before they’re 23, where men and women are caught over and over again with the same offenses, but where nothing seems to change.
It’s like putting a cream on a topical allergic reaction to a food we keep eating, over and over again.
I don’t think our system is working.