Letter to the editor – February 15th, 2017

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Questions rape sentence

Editor, Smithfield Times

This week I was shocked. Just above the letters to the editor there was a small news article entitled “Pleads guilty to rape, sodomy.” A local resident had been charged with one count of rape and two counts of sodomy. He gave both oral and written confessions to the police. Subsequently, he entered into a plea bargain, and the charges were reduced to three counts of sexual battery. He will serve a total of 15 months in jail followed by five years of unsupervised probation. If he were to have been found guilty on the rape charges, he would have served fifteen years to life.

I could not help but read the article again-and again. I went to the circuit court website to check the facts-because it seemed crazy that someone could serve so light a sentence for such a heinous crime. I am not a lawyer and in fairness, I do not know the particulars of the case. I do not know the accused or the victim. Regardless, I cannot resolve in my mind or spirit the disconnect between the nature of the crime and the consequences.

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When behaviors like possession of marijuana, driving with a suspended license, petty larceny, and writing bad checks all Class 1 Misdemeanors in Virginia are legally equivalent to sexual battery, assault and battery, domestic violence and stalking, something is wrong. Our system of law and justice — of crime and punishment — of social fairness has been distorted beyond recognition. There are people in prison today that have no business being there — nonviolent offenders, drug users, addicts, alcoholics — but when confessed rapists are enabled to rejoin society in such a short time, it makes me question the sanity of our legal and penal system in a totally new and different way.

Tim Lavallee

Absence was noted

Editor, Smithfield Times

Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department recently mourned the untimely passing of Paul Robbins, a dedicated and very active volunteer firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. We celebrated Paul’s life and honored his memory over a period of several days here at Station 10 in Carrollton. Mourners from all Isle of Wight County volunteer fire and rescue agencies as well as county Emergency Services came to pay their respects to our brother Paul and we thank them most sincerely.

There was one notable absence — the Chief of our county’s Emergency Services. We have long noted that he is no friend of the volunteers who comprise the bulk of our local first responders. We sincerely hope that his non-attendance at any of our memorial events for our stalwart volunteer Paul Robbins was not a deliberate act to disrespect the men and women in the volunteer fire and rescue services of our beloved county.

George Rawls and Fred Mitchell
Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department