‘This Is Going to Ruin My Entire Life’: 18-Year-Old Aspiring Firefighter Charged With Felony for Pocket Knife
Some of the most important decisions we face in life involve ethical or moral questions. As individuals, we all face life-shaping ethical choices such as: What kind of person do I want to be? What values should I live by? How should I treat others? and What should my priorities in life be? As a society, we also confront fundamental and inescapable moral choices: When, if ever, is war morally justifiable? Should the death penalty be legal? Should all citizens have the same basic rights? When is it legitimate for government to restrict individual liberty? What is a just society?
Law also raises issues of fundamental importance: Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee a right to abortion? Does the death penalty violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments”? Should preferential treatment in employment and university admissions decisions be legal? Do bans on gay marriage violate the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws”? Does the CIA’s rough handling (some would say torture) of suspected terrorists constitute a “war crime” under international law?
Because law and morality play such crucial roles in human affairs, it’s important to be able to think critically about them. A branch of philosophy that seeks to clarify moral concepts and answer questions about what is right or wrong, or morally good or bad. Our main focus will be on moral arguments. A moral argument is an argument that includes at least one moral statement. A moral statement is a claim that asserts that something is good or bad, right or wrong, or has some other ethical quality (e.g., being just, admirable, or blameworthy). Moral statements are normative statements, that is, statements that claim that something has or lacks a certain value, or should or should not be done. Not all normative statements are moral statements. If I say, for example, that Paris is a more beautiful city than London, I am not saying anything about the comparative moral qualities of the two cities.
If I say that it’s a shame that the law has propelled to a level that makes “martyrs” of its citizens that is a moral statement and that is what I feel is happening in our society in reference to the laws that are making all our youths become in jeopardy of living a quality life.
Eighteen year-old Jordan Wiser is training to be a firefighter. He’s a certified emergency vehicle operator who works as a first responder when he’s not attending high school. And, after just spending 13 days in jail, he’s now facing felony charges for weapons possession.
The weapon? A pocketknife. It was in his EMT vest, and he uses it to cut through seatbelts when he’s practicing saving lives.
How did this happen? According to The Huffington Post, administrators at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus in Jefferson, Ohio, where Wiser is enrolled, approached the student after someone informed them about videos Wiser had uploaded to YouTube. The videos include reviews of video games and merchandise, demonstrations on home-defense tactics, and an interview with a local police officer. Officials searched Wiser’s car in the school parking lot and found an assortment of items, including a pocketknife, a stun gun, and two Airsoft pellet guns. Wiser said the Airsoft guns were in his trunk because he planned to participate in the sport after school. The stun gun was locked in his glove compartment for self-defense. The pocketknife was inside his EMT medical vest.
For the possession of the pocketknife alone, police arrested and jailed Wiser for 13 days for conveying a weapon onto school grounds—a felony under Ohio law.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time anyone has written about teenagers victimized by weapons ordinances. Last year, Cobb County, Georgia police arrested and charged 17-year-old Cody Chitwood with a felony for bringing weapons into a school zone. The weapons were fishing knives, and they were in his truck, in a tackle box.
At first glance, such weapons ordinances sound sensible. But the criminal law contains the harshest punishments the state metes out, and it should be applied in a proportionate manner. Simply put, it’s absurd to ruin a kid’s life over a pocketknife that he uses to save lives.
Perhaps additional facts will come to light. But, as it stands, this incident looks like a shameful exercise of prosecutorial discretion—something of which residents of Ashtabula County should take note come November, when the county’s prosecutor, Nicholas Iarocci, is up for re-election. Unless Iarocci’s office is saving some damning revelation for Wiser’s trial, the charges against this young man are unjustified, and should be dropped before they cause him any more suffering.
The results of any person getting a felony today are equal to becoming a martyr of a new sought designed by the corrupt politicians and socialist of America. From California to New York, Texas to Michigan, a record number of convicted criminals are either being released from cells or serving time in community-based programs as states, under pressure to cut costs, adopt new philosophies on how to handle nonviolent offenders and many inmates incarcerated in the 1970s and ’80s near the end of their terms. In some cases, lawsuits designed to reduce overcrowding are forcing authorities to open prison doors as well.
These days roughly 700,000 ex-cons are hitting US streets each year – a new high, according to Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. While the vast majority of the inmates are nonviolent, some, like Corralez, served sentences for serious crimes and are now winning parole in higher numbers.
The result is an unprecedented test – of authorities’ ability to monitor the newly released prisoners, of social service groups’ capacity to help them forge new lives, of the inmates’ willingness to start over, of communities’ tolerance to let them do so.
Jason Corralez donned a freshly pressed collared shirt. He had shaved neatly around his salt-and-pepper goatee. He looked like a man about to go on a job interview, which he was. It was a job he desperately wanted, but one question gnawed at him: Would they be willing to hire a convicted murderer?
Mr. Corralez had one advantage as he applied for the position at Trader Joe’s in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Both his brother-in-law and nephew worked at the grocery store. But as his wife drove him to the interview, Corralez was worried about that question on the application that asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony. He had written: “Will discuss during interview.”
When he arrived at the store, the manager queried him about his résumé. Corralez went through his work experience, which all happened to be from his time in prison, where he had been since he was 17: upholstery work, yard maintenance, small engine repair, clerical tasks. “I explained my job experience,” he says. “All the courses I took – anger management, morals and values.”
Corralez didn’t leave out why he went to prison, either. “I’m an ex-felon for the offense of second-degree murder,” he told the manager. A former member of The Mob Crew, an East Los Angeles gang, he served 24 years for killing a member of the rival MS-13 gang in a drive-by shooting. “This is the person I was,” he said, “and this is the person I am now.”
According to Corralez, the manager stepped back, stunned. “Thank you for being honest,” Corralez recalls him saying. As the ex-prisoner walked to the bus stop, he knew what it meant. “I took everything that I had accomplished, everything that I had to do to get a second chance,” he says. “But I could see it in his reaction. It was like the nail in the coffin.”
Corralez’s struggle to transition from prisoner to free member of society is one that thousands of inmates across the country are going through as states trim their prison populations on a scale unseen in American history.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged America, changed lives, compromise practices, courage, Culture, disciplined thinking, disenfranchisement, Felon Martyrs, Human Rights Campaign, injustice, international law, Jordan Wiser, Mental Health, moral statement, pocketknife, social issues, social justice, Society, standing power, Struggles, suffering, Youth Felons.