Friday, July 4, 2008

Convicted

I saw a commercial recently for a documentary about Schapelle Corby. She's an Australian who's a few months older than my little sister.

Corby went to Bali--a popular tourist destination for Australians. They found 9 lbs of Cannabis in her bags.

Drug laws are strict in Indonesia. She's serving a sentence of 20 years. Her release date is 2024. That's bad, but not as bad as what happened to another Australian. Van Tuong Nguyen.
He's dead; hanged in a prison in Singapore.

Nguyen admitted to being guilty. Corby does not. She insists she is innocent.

I don't know if she's lying or telling the truth.

But I think death and/or twenty years in prison is a bit harsh. Okay a lot harsh. And honestly. I'm kind of terrified to go to any of those countries that have strict drugs laws. I'd be so scared that someone would secretly put drugs in my bag.

Yeah. Drugs are bad. But so is McDonalds. I'd like to see a country where they behead you for carrying a Big Mac. And what about alcohol????

Whether they are guilty or innocent, I feel very sad for Corby and Nguyen. Maybe they do deserve to be punished, but I don't think the crime fits the punishment.

And there was another time-in another country-where the crime did not fit the punishment.

Let's go back to Great Britain in the 18th century. The country was crowded. Some people were desperate and stole a few things here and there. Usually, nothing big. From what I've read, I kind of it picture it being like the guy from Les Miserables. Stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family.

I come from the philosophy that if someone steals some bread, they must be really hungry and you give them the damn bread. If they come back later to steal more, than you give them two loaves of bread and a job.

But that's not how it went in this United Kingdom. There were lots of people in prison. No one knows what to do with them. Some get executed. Others get sent to the colonies out west. But minor problem with that! The colonies declared their independence and won.

They don't want to pay British taxes and they don't want accept any more British convicts.

Then a solution is found.

And I think most of us know how the story goes.

Prison ships were sent away. And the man who stole the bar of soap said good-bye to his family forever. You gotta remember this was all before we had email and Facebook. Good-bye really was good-bye. Their sentences weren't usually for life, but most of these convicts couldn't afford to sail back to the UK.

They got stuck in this awful land far far away.

But they got the last laugh.

Sydney Australia (where the prison ships first landed) is now considered by Mercer Consulting
as being the 10th best city to live in. London? It's way down at number 39. (And for you ethnocentric Americans. None of our cities are mentioned until #27. Honolulu.)

I don't need statistics to convince me though. I've been to Sydney. For me, it's the most wonderful city in the world. It's so funny to walk around the harbor and think.....this was once a punishment.