Not a penny-ante crime

Justice doesn't carry a minimum value

If your son were arrested for stealing coins out of a fountain, how would you react?


Would you blame the officers who arrested him? Would you be quoted in the newspaper saying, "I don't have any clue why they would lock him up. It's silly, just silly"?

If you did that, what kind of message would you be sending your son -- or the rest of the youth in Augusta? That it's OK to take someone else's property up to a point? And exactly what point is that? A certain dollar amount?

When did adults start taking their kids' side, no matter what?

There's a debate going on in the public right now over whether Richmond County Sheriff's deputies should've arrested two young men for pilfering pennies out of a fountain outside Surrey Center shopping center last weekend. After being spotted doing it by an alert citizen, the two showed up at a nearby convenience store to go on a wild spending spree with their booty of $1.26 and $1.51.

But again, where should the line for theft be drawn, if not at the theft itself? And what if something else untoward had happened at the shopping center? Should police have just released a pair of thieves at 5 a.m. and call it a day without knowing?

Regardless of where you fall in that argument, one thing is clear: The parents of a thief shouldn't be excusing the behavior and blaming police in public pronouncements.

Especially when that parent is a former sheriff's deputy, such as Kenneth Boose Sr.

If any of you long for the bygone era when police officers could sweep up such petty offenders and deliver them to their front porch and trust that they'd get worse at home than they would've downtown, you can stop the pining right now: 1) often the parents aren't there today, and 2) they often take the kids' side anyway, not the officer's.

Case in point.

In addition, with so many wayward kids today, how smart is it to laugh off petty crimes? They are quite often the gateway to other offenses.

Indeed, the younger Boose acknowledges he had previously been arrested for shoplifting, in Columbia County.

We asked one respected criminal justice official to weigh in: "The bottom line is, get off of the private property and out of the fountain at 0400!" was the response.


If we want to believe that young adults shouldn't be arrested and booked for petty thefts, then we'd better have a backup plan at home -- such as a parent who doesn't think it's silly that his son has been arrested, but is instead horrified, embarrassed and angry -- and who will mete out justice that improves upon what society might have done.

Until we get back to that place, maybe we should lay off the deputies. They're cleaning up after some of the rest of us.



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