Lenient Punishments

As parents, we are advised by experts to administer discipline swiftly, firmly and consistently. Subsequently, the inappropriate behavior exhibited by our children will cease. The judges and lawyers in our court system need to heed the advice of the parenting experts. It appears that our court system is biased towards the perpetrators by delivering lenient punishments, upholding their liberties and withholding justice.

Take, for example, the Burke man who was sentenced to three years in prison for luring young teens to gangs ["Burke Man Gets 3 Years for Luring Teens to Gang," Metro, July 24]. How is three years supposed to scare other menaces from committing the same offense, and how is it enough time to reform the offender? The judge originally sentenced him to five years but agreed to suspend two of them. Those five years would have kept him away from my son's school. Knowing this man may return to my son's school in three years to point a gun at the stomach of my son or one of his friends provides me no comfort.

Another example of preserving a criminal's liberty and withholding justice is Commonwealth's Attorney James E. Plowman's reduction of Loudoun County teen Matthew J. Lathram's charge to involuntary manslaughter for shooting 15-year-old Donald Nicholas Shomaker in the basement of his grandparent's home on March 22.

Though the commonwealth's attorney had evidence to seek a murder charge, Lathram plea-bargained in the twelfth hour to a reduced charge, eliminating the potential of life in prison for the killer.

I challenge the court systems to set an example by delivering stern discipline to these young people committing crimes against our children. Maybe if they focused more on justice and less on liberty for these menaces and killers of our children, lives will be spared and children won't be scared.

Aimee Bechtle

Sterling