So let me get this straight, Mr. Van DeLaughter was being held at the Allred Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Iowa Park on five counts of theft, aggravated robbery and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Not a good place to be and not looking good for the home team home boy.
Hum…sitting there…thinking, “what should I do to get myself out of this mess?” O.K., I can buy that, it would be reasonable for anyone to try to better themselves – improve their lives – turn things around, if you will, and get a “get out of jail” card. I left out “free” cause, it takes some effort to get into jail and getting out certainly isn’t free.
“What to do…what to do,” he must have thought. “Ah. I think I’ll write a letter!” And write a letter he did. Now here’s where the story takes an unexpected twist.
U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper, of the Northern District of Texas said, Alan Van DeLaughter, 36, was found guilty of mailing threats to damage or destroy property and another count of mailing threatening communication. A federal jury in Amarillo convicted Roper, a prison inmate, who made threats to a judge and the editor of the Dallas Morning News.
Every choice has a consequence. That is a message I deliver frequently as a Texas motivational speaker. But I must admit that most of time my audience is a bit (well O.K. a lot) brighter than Mr. Van DeLaughter. I would almost say that if there were to be a remake of the movie, “Dumb and Dumber” he might be a candidate for a part. Oops…I don’t think he’d be young enough considering the time he’ll have to spend in prison for that stunt.
For more information on the story from Amarillo see http://www.amarillo.com/stories/082207/new_8287078.shtml
Sentenced to 20 years (240 months) without parole, I guess Mr. Van DeLaughter made his point and sealed his fate.
I realize that I’ve been taking this light heartedly, but there might just be a deeper side to this beyond what is obvious. I’ll never forget one day during my brief stay in a Federal Half-Way House in Raleigh, NC. I had just finished my active sentence and was overjoyed to be able to take the next step forward – incarceration in a half-way house. It was a privilege and one that I was not about to screw up.
People came and went so you never got close to anyone. Some used the experience as a building block to future success and others acted as if they were victims – that somehow society owed them something. Their time was another step back into prison – at least it seemed so based on their actions.
But I’ll never forget this one guy who slept above me in the bunks we shared. He was three days away from total freedom. He elected to stay in prison so when he did get out he would not have to serve any probation time. I must admit I thought to myself, “What a dummy!” But to each his own. Some seemed to want to get out quickly and get on with life…and others – well they had a different perspective.
Anyway, this young man talked to me some (not much as he was a loner). But he talked enough for me to know that he was scared – scared of freedom. In prison he had shelter, clothing and food. On the outside (as he called it) he had to be responsible for those things for himself. Considering he’d been in prison since he was 18 and he was now going on 28, he didn’t know how to start making a life for himself.
I was so excited for him on the day of his release…I went to the half-way house manager to find out when he’d be free as I wanted to wish him well. What I was told shocked me.
“He’s back in,” they told me.
“What are you talking about. He’s to be released today.”
“Last night he held up a convenience store. They picked him up and he back in.” The folks at the half-way house stated this as if it was common place. “He’s back in!”
I was dumbfounded. After all this time with freedom just an open door away, why would he do that? Their next comment stopped me in my tacks.
“Yea…and guess what. It was armed robbery. Yep. He used his finger. He put his finger in his pocket and told the cashier that he would shoot her. He asked her for $20. She gave it to him. Then he gave it back and asked her to call the police. She did and he was arrested. Guess he just couldn’t figure out how to make it?”
As I think about Van DeLaughter and his letter…perhaps he, too, didn’t know how to make it. Perhaps prison was his way of living a safe, secure and structured life. Or, perhaps he was just dumb or dumber?