Friday, June 18, 2010

When We Criminalize Everything...

...we have to think twice about what we do. A 14-year-old boy in Florida initially thought to be a possible kidnapper now faces charges for false imprisonment for helping a 3-year-old girl find her mother.

Edwin approached the girl and told her he would find her mother. Edwin's mother said she saw the two together, asked Edwin what was going on, and then said she would help.

Then Edwin made his big mistake. He thought the girl's mother might be among a group of women that he saw leaving the store. So off he went.

The video shows him leaving the store, with the girl following behind. Once outside, he took her by the hand.

Edwin's mother then appeared, following after him and the girl.

It turned out the girl's lost mother was in the store. She told investigators that she was returning an item to the shelf when she lost track of her daughter. She naturally became alarmed. Another shopper told her that the girl left the store with a man. Edwin is big enough to pass for a defensive lineman, which probably is part of the problem here.

The video shows the girl's mother rushing out the door.

By that time, Edwin had discovered the girl didn't belong to any of the women he had seen leaving the store. He said he was turning back to return to the store.

There was a convergence of Edwin, his mother, the little girl and her mother. The girl was returned to her mother.

The video then shows mother and daughter going back into the store, followed shortly thereafter by Edwin and his mother.


Interestingly enough, the girl's mother never did press charges. But the Sheriff's Office decided it would, ultimately settling on a charge of false imprisonment.

"He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so," said Capt. Angelo Nieves. "The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur."

Granted, the boy and his mom did not handle the situation with the best possible judgment--if they wanted to make sure they didn't do something illegal--but not everyone who provides help does so with the best possible judgment. It reminds me of that maxim about how good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment. Given the criminal charge, good judgment now means the boy points out that a child can't find her mother and hopes someone does something about it.

On the other hand, since we choose to live in a world of extremes, the boy and his mom could be the coolest pair of child abductors we've ever seen. And besides, "The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur."

So everything's okay.

No comments: