Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Justice or Fairness?

When you work in the juvenile justice field, you find yourself seeking justice for the victims....but then as you get to know the juveniles, you find yourself seeking fairness in the justice which is hard to come by.

I've come across a story of a young man who made a bad decision in how to make money. Roddy Pippin had not been in trouble ever but he was having a hard time finding a job and fell into an "easy" way to make some money: Cattle-rustling. No, this story isn't set out in the 1800's. It is a modern day story none other place than Texas. Now Roddy is a baby-face kid and was doing Jesse James work. Perhaps he had no intentions of doing it forever...or maybe he just got caught up in the money. Whatever the reason, he continued till he got caught. He got caught and gave up the names of his 8 other accomplices who were all older than him. But guess who got the harsher sentence? Roddy. He was given 4 separate two-year state jail sentences which totaled 8 years. For him to receive a sentence like that and not allow them to run concurrently?? But for him to not at least have a chance at probation?? I think Roddy's mother even offered to pay back restitution over a period of time...but NOOOOOOOOOO...this was North Texas plains where staunch republicans wear 20 gallon hats, carry their guns on their hips, spit tobacco and make polite talk to the women while they gawk them down.

You say...well Roddy will get parole right?? Nope. You see, state jail sentences in Texas are as is...no parole. But there was hope. Well apparently, Roddy applied and finally he got shock probation and they let him out to serve the rest of his time on a monitor at home. Two sweet years later, Roddy has been revoked and sent back to prison due to some technical violation of which has not been made known.

Now you wonder why I'm even talking about this....the issue at hand right now is Roddy has a severe case of diabetes that none of the prisons could medically take care of him when he was in there last time.....so of course, he and his family are concerned that he will not get the care that he's been getting out here in the free world. Well, you say, he shouldn't have violated his terms...but THAT is my question....I've seen parolees/probation be revoked for things that should not send someone back to prison....instead the officer could have attempted to find solutions in the community to help rehabilitate. Because Prison does NOT rehabilitate. And isn't that what we want??? These people to come out NOT wanting to commit crimes??

Now I'm all about justice. But more importantly I've learned that Justice does not include Fairness.

So I haven't gotten off the fence on this issue yet...not sure until I learn "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey says. But if Roddy was sent on a technical issue....I'm pretty sure which side I'll be on.

***EDIT
MAN....now I know how to get traffic here...just post about criminals in Texas.
Ok so facts are slowly coming in and making more sense HOWEVER I still don't agree with what took place. Make sure you who read this and want to comment that I really am NOT focusing on Pippin's medical condition. That's his lawyer's fight not mine.

My ONLY concern here was how I thought the plea bargain he agreed to was not appropriate.
Now so for the record:
Pippin committed possibly 40+ crimes of stealing cattle(I dont actually think there is cattle rustling crime anymore on the Penal Code books) so basically a bunch of state jail Felony's. For those of you who don't understand penal code lingo, here is the State Jail Felony code that most likely applies to Pippin:
(4) a state jail felony if:
(A) the value of the property stolen is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000, or the property is less than 10 head of cattle, horses, or exotic livestock or exotic fowl as defined by Section 142.001, Agriculture Code, or any part thereof under the value of $20,000, or less than 100 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $20,000;

So many of the charges were dismissed, most likely due to insufficient evidence or just part of the plea bargain...which left Pippin agreeing to pleaing guilty to 4 separate counts of Theft State Jail Felony which led him to receiving 4 two-year sentences to be served stacked...one after the other.

After Pippin served one of the two-year sentences, he applied for a received shock probation for one of the sentences apparently due to his medical condition.

While on shock probation, he made a video of which the DA is making allegations that he made it out of his area he was allowed to be. Pippin's lawyers rebuttal says they didn't as they made it on his mother's land which was his area.

His shock probation time ended so now he had to turn himself into the jail so he could be transported back to prison for his other 2 terms. Now his lawyers are pleading his case again for shock probation in December again based on his medical condition.

He was not given the chance at probation or restitution because the ranchers who are the victims of the crimes did not agree to this. And this was a recent letter as well so it keeps being brought up but they still say no. MY POINT is simply WHY NOT? Now if while Pippin has been out on Shock Probation, he wasn't given the opportunity to pay restitution, you can't blame him for not paying it.

And I don't care that he's been going to church all this time. I know criminals and offenders do this ploy.

My only issue is if he did at least one of those two year stints and didn't get into any trouble while out on his 2nd term on Shock Probation...why shouldn't he be given the chance to finish both of the other terms in the free. If I were his probation officer, I'd be giving him tons of assignments and making him be accountable; starting with community service in something that I THOUGHT he needed to be a part of. I'd make him have a job and put aside savings to show me so if at some point, the ranchers were willing to take restitution, they would have it.

Funny thing is, my juvenile probationers used to call me Hard Ass...but they knew I was fair and gave them a shot at doing the right thing after they fucked up.
I'm done with posting about this now and will be posting new today. I just found it funny how new people showed up here and I rarely get a hit on this thing.

21 comments:

BTab said...

You need to check your facts. I live in North Texas and know about Mr. Pippin. Pippin was sentenced to four stacked state jail terms in 2004. Whether that sentence is harsh or not, it is what he agreed to in a plea bargain. Around here, most people were upset that the sentence was too short.

He served his first sentence and half of his second sentence. He applied for and was granted shock probation during his second sentence. The probation was for 2 years. It just expired. As a result, Mr. Pippin had to turn himself back in to authorities to start his third sentence.

His probation was not revoked and no one has alleged that he violated his probation.

Tex said...

Just reporting bits and pieces in a newspaper. That's why I keep asking questions. Thanks BTab. Dont know how you found me since I'm pretty low key here. Or unless you're a FB friend who wants to remain anonymous on here.
Do you have a link to those facts? Cos that's really what I'm about trying to locate. Facts. and proof of them.

And if you read my post, you should see clearly I am wanting to find out the real story.

Still, first time offenders of crimes that aren't violent typically receive Probation not jail sentences.

BTab said...

I have followed the story because I know people that were the victims of his thefts.

I mostly learned about this case from the Vernon Daily Record. Unfortunately, the Vernon Daily Record is not online but their may be some information on the Wichita Falls Times Record News website.

Anyway, I don't know how it works in your part of the state, and for that matter, I don't know where you live! But around here, we take cattle theft very seriously.

Mr. Pippin committed somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 or 60 different felony thefts in this area in 2003 and 2004. You are completely right, it doesn't sound like he had ever been in trouble before, but he started out with a bang.

From what I know, Pippin pleaded guilty to 4 cases and had the other 45 dismissed. I don't see how he can complain about that.

Tex said...

So I'm doing some checking on this Pippin case for anyone who does follow me.

I know stories are never just black and white. There's alot of grey.

My bottom line issue is here that if Roddy had NO prior criminal history, he should have been offered Probation and be allowed to pay restitution.

Tex said...

Ok I just read BTab's added info. Granted it sounds like Pippin did start with a bang. And I'll try not to discount cattle 'rustling' importance and its seriousness in your part of Texas..however, it's stealing and last time I looked stealing is serious in every part of the world. HOWEVER, I've seen many people be placed on Felony Probation for the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars...because they had no prior records.

I understand victims and their pain and want for vengeance but I believe Vengeance is the lords, not ours.

I'm not even feeling sorry for Pippin. Yes he needed to be caught but he needs to be made to be accountable by paying back those cattlemen. I'd want to be paid back if i were those cattle ranchers.

I'm still looking on line and searching for more info. Have no clue why this case has me interested but it does. Thanks BTab for your input!

Ted D said...

Tex, I'm not up on the facts and realize cattle rustling is taken pretty seriously in your neck of the woods. But I'm with you; seems like probation, community service and restitution could have been looked at first. Not sure what the right response is to all this but I don't think prison really "rehabilitates" those who don't want it.

Tex said...

"in MY neck of the woods"? Texas is so diverse east to west and north to south. This ain't the old west anymore and people need to realize that the 1800's are gone.

yes Pippin committed more than his share of "cattle rustling" crimes. But he wasn't even given a chance on probation or a chance to pay restitution.

It seems to me that he got prison time cos he pissed off a bunch of Cattle Ranchers who got duped.

SJones said...

The cattle ranchers didn't get duped. Pippin went out in the middle of the night and stole their cattle out of their fields and pens. He also stole anything else that wasn't tied down.

You make it sound as though these cattle ranchers are ignorant because they allowed themselves to be stolen from.

For someone who says they want "fairness" you sure are quick to judge these farmers and ranchers as "republicans" that "gawk at women."

You want to talk about stereotypes? Sounds like you are as bad as anyone.

Tex said...

My my my don't word spread on this thing called the internet.

I apologize if it sounded like i was poking fun at the ranchers by using the word duped. But as far as calling them republican, I think that's a "fair" statement for that part of Texas.

And I thought I was writing about how fair Pippin's sentence should have been? not stereotypes?

I haven't had this sort of traffic since writing this little thing. All cos I read an article and pondered some questions.

Unless facts show otherwise, since Pippen didn't have prior records, he should have received probation and been allowed to pay restitution.

The sentence just doesn't make sense.

Tex said...

And as far as gawking at women comment. SHIT thats what I think about all men cos that's what they do. Someone doth protest too much

phillip said...

OK, I do know the facts in Roddy Pippin's case.Please bear with me, this is a little long. He was nineteen when most of this happened. He has had a rare and very severe form of Type I diabetes since age 6. What's that mean? It means his blood sugars can swing from so low as to set off seizures to so high as to induce coma- all within a few hours. His diabetes is very difficult to control.

Now, as to those stacked state jail sentences. Roddy and his family were sadly trusting of the legal system (and frankly, badly served by a lawyer). The deal they agreed to was that he would serve his time in a nearby state jail, where he would have access to 24/7 medical care. Guess what? Even the medical director of that jail testified that they could not provide proper medical care for Roddy. Hence the 2 yr "shock probation". During that time, his diabetes was under excellent control. They applied for a 2nd probation. The local DA had a bug up his ass about Roddy. They diddled for almost 13 months before denying him. So even though he did that much more probation and did well, he is now at Jester III prison for 4 more years. Within 2 weeks, his blood sugars were soaring into dangerous levels. This induced almost constant vomiting. Their response? Treat the high sugar level? NO...they gave him IV's for dehydration. His "diabetic meals"? Syrup soaked pancakes for breakfast. Peanut butter and JELLY sandwiches as between meal snacks! Forced by guards to eat every bite. After weeks of this, he collapsed, was rushed to a free world hospital and stabilized. But under pressure from Jester III, moved back to lockup in only 48 hrs. Blood sugars are back in the 300-600 range in days (normal- 100!). Now housed in the infirmary itself, yet still they cannot or will not treat properly. Already the nerves in his feet have been damaged and he cannot feel them. He has had retinal aneurysms, which is is what leads to diabetic blindness. It goes on.

So, yes, he did stupid things at 19. Do we as a civilized, supposedly Christian nation exact his feet, legs, eyes, kidneys as punishment. If this was YOUR 25 yo son, how would you feel having to watch him being mutilated by the prison system? It is wrong, wrong, wrong! To me, this violates the 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Are we a nation of laws or not? Do we have any human decency at all? How can DA John Heatly live with himself?

phillip said...

BTW, I don't often get onto blogs. A note said my "profile" was inaccessible. But feel free to ask my anything relevant. Thanks.

Robert said...

What's Jerome Heath Novak doing after serving only about 2 years for stealing way more than the nine of which Roddy was the youngest? Novak is from a big cattle family, Roddy's not. Also, Roddy is a "half-breed," as some say (part Native American). And Roddy's the one with the horrible disease, not Novak. Please explain all of that.

Could not those who work so hard against Roddy show “the kind of forgiveness and redemption” referenced by Brit Hume? Are those people really true Christians? They say they go to church.

merelli said...

Having read all the comments here and other places and having been personally involved with Roddy’s situation for many months now, I find it interesting to see the same opposing arguments repeated over and over again. “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”, “we take cattle rustling seriously around here” “the victims want vengeance” etc. Thanks to Philip for an accurate report on the current situation. With that being said here is my point (bear with me, it is long)

Roddy’s crimes were non-violent crimes of opportunity against a group of people who under the best circumstances have a difficult time protecting their assets due to the nature of raising cattle (I wouldn’t want to have to store my revenue generating assets in a remote field where they wander around for all to see). There are and should be appropriate penalties that act as a deterrent or punishment for this kind of behavior. Entire communities economic systems rely on this industry. That is not what this is about. We can argue ‘til the cows come home about whether or not 8 years is an appropriate sentence for what he did. In the end that is what the justice system is for, to blindly dispense justice based on the rule of law. The thing that bothers me here and has motivated me to spend time and money as an advocate is my belief that it is not being accomplished here. The constitution clearly prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. This is the law of the land, not the law of West Texas or any other subset of the whole. Roddy’s disease and its treatment were the single biggest factor in the negotiation and acceptance of the plea bargain. He and his mother were assured that he would receive proper care for his rare type of diabetes at a nearby state jail facility. This was promised in exchange for an 8-year sentence without possibility of parole. A sentence that is demonstrably longer than any contemporary offender with similar crimes. Had that promise been kept, we would not have anything to discuss. It wasn’t. It is cruel to enter into an agreement with someone who is under duress and their very life depends on your fulfillment of your obligations, but you don’t keep your end of the bargain. It is cruel to deny that treatment in advance of the agreement to leverage the person into accepting the agreement. It is cruel to then move the individual from state jail to state jail continuously and to the point that their family can’t find them and can’t visit. It is cruel to not provide the agreed upon treatment and therefore cause the person to suffer the tremendous pain associated with wild blood sugar swings which include vomiting, near coma states, loss of eyesight, loss of feeling in feet and extremities, eventual amputation and death. It is cruel to confine an individual to solitary confinement as retribution for filing a lawsuit to protect his life or filing valid complaints about the lack of care. It is cruel to feed a severe type 1 diabetic, pancakes soaked in syrup for breakfast, while prison personnel are watching and require that the person eat every bit in front of them. It will be cruel for Roddy to die in jail, which according to the state’s on doctor in court testimony is inevitable and imminent. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the picture without me having to get to graphic. All of the events described above and more have occurred. I have learned of them through face-to-face discussions with Roddy and his family, not by reading an account in the newspaper. As for unusual, I would like to believe that the treatment of Roddy described above is unusual for the Texas penal system and would add that in discussion I have had directly with the legislators that wrote the law governing Roddy’s sentence, I was told that it is not only unusual (no other inmate in the texas penal system has 4 stacked state jail sentences) but in their opinion it is illegal.

You decide does this fit the definition of cruel and unusual as prohibited by the constitution. I believe strongly that it does.

morr for Roddy said...

This is ridiculous. The boy committed a stupid crime at 19. He has paid for his crimes. I am a cattle owner and I hate stealing. His mother and a good friend has offered numerous times to pay restitution and it was turned down by the cattle ranchers. Why?? They are in the cattle association, have money and just want vengence is the idea. I have read in one of these blogs that he is going to church and all people eventually come to this. The way I understand their comment is they are kind of saying he is doing this to get out of trouble. You are way mistaken. I am a member of the church where Roddy was going while he was on shock probation. I would also add that I feel very fortunate to know him. I have witnessed his baptism and before he had to turn himself in, he went in front of the church on Sunday morning and told anyone who did not know, that he had done some horrible things and called himself a thief. I have been going every Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday night at this church for over 8 years and missed very few times(due to sickness or being out of the state)and Roddy has been there most of that time on Sunday morning and evening for around 2 years. He wasn't aloud to go on Wednesday nights (violation of shock probation. From what I read in the Bible, his sins was washed away in Babtism, God forgave him. He has paid dearly for his crimes and there is murderer's that have been treated better than him. The people that are persecuting him now and continue to do so will have to answer to God in the end. For me, I know he is a true Christian and he says the most beautiful prayer that I have ever heard. They are not memorized or rehearsed, they come from within his heart. Why can't he be put back on shock probation to serve the rest of his sentence out instead of dying in that place where he is being treated unjustly?

Anonymous said...

I am not from Texas and have never visited what I believed to be a state of good people with big hearts. Always thought that Texas was made up of many good Christian people. Hahaha, sorry …. I am not a religious person, most likely because of people that claim to be on God’s side, but are vicious at heart, so I tend to stay away from hypocrisy. Living life as a good person who is fair and just to all is the road that I have chosen. So enough about me…
What the heck are you all doing down there? I have been following this story since the beginning. Not to make light of a punishable crime, but come on. This young man has suffered enough for what he did as an impressionable young person following family members obviously down the wrong path.
My suggestion to those that believe that he should continue to serve these unjust sentences; visit him, meet the human being that you are condemning to hell. Take a day off from the church that you are obviously not learning from and go to the prison that is Roddy’s hell. See for yourself that he has paid for his crime. There are good, loving, caring people that are by Roddy’s side, welling to give him the future that this smart, loving, created person could have if given the chance.
Put down your weapons, stop the vengeance, open your hearts and be the Christians that you claim to be. Your God is watching all of this, and if I were you, I’d be worried about my place in heaven.
DM From Maryland

Anonymous said...

FYI, jerome Heath Novak only served (2) six month terms. That's only one year for stealing 290 head of cattle ($250,000 worth).

Amyadoptee said...

I am writing to you in regards to the Roddy Pippin case. He and I have a common judge. That judge is Dan Mike Bird. I have been waiting to start contacting media. I tried in my area but did not get any response. I have been researching this judge for a while. I am in the middle of a contentious divorce. Like Roddy, I got a very unfair shake in this mess. My ex husband, Donald D. Burt Jr is a declared alcoholic, cheater, and an abuser of my daughters and I. The judge gave him custody of our children. His statement at the final hearing was that I had too much influence over my daughters. I still do not understand what that means.

So he doesn't just screw over cowboys. He also screws over parents.

Anonymous said...

Jerome Heath Novak is in the Brazoria County Jail. Seems he went back to stealing after he got out of prison.

Anonymous said...

Until u live in there life u should not judge

Anonymous said...

I personally know Jerome Novak and he has a loving heart