The Politically Incorrect Mom


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

May The Punishment Fit The Crime...

Ok, I was 11 years old once. Admittedly, most of my childhood was an out-of-body experience, but when I was 11 years old, I probably threw rocks at boys. In fact, I’m almost positive I did. In my neighborhood, which was full of children my age and a few years older, we all got along pretty well, but on the occasion that one of the neighborhood kids rattled my chain, I am quite certain they got what was coming to them in return. I may have been mildly feisty as a little girl – ok, I was ADHD with a bike – but I knew one thing for certain….anything I did that was going to be deemed inappropriate by adults was going to get back to my mother and I feared her more than any police officer, school principal or other authority figure of my childhood. My mother used to say, “The Lord will tell me what you did!” I later realized that it was probably Mrs. Leffler, the strange woman across the street with forty-seven thousand cats, who probably told my mother about most of my shenanigans, nevertheless, she always knew. And trust me, the punishments usually fit the crimes committed.

Fast forward 20-something years. Maribel Cuevas, an 11 year-old girl from California, is playing on the street with her 6 year-old baby brother and some other children when a bunch of boys ride by on their bicycles and begin harassing the group of kids with water balloons. Why? Because that’s what boys do! In thousands of years, this has always been the case – little boys pick on little girls. It’s human nature. It’s the natural order of things. In fact, when I was in the fourth grade and Billy Nickerson pushed me off the slide at recess, I will never forget the explanation my teacher gave me, “he’s just doing those things because he likes you”. I thought it was a funny way of showing it at the time, but having become the aunt of 11 boys, I now know she was right on the money.

When I think about the scenario of Maribel, her brother and her little friends being freshly drenched by water balloons, I can’t help thinking back to my childhood and wondering what I would have done. I don’t have to wonder long – I know exactly what I would have done. I would have picked up the closest thing I could get my hands on and pelt it right back at them. Why? Because that’s what feisty little girls do. Not all little girls – I know that too, because I have one of each….one who would have gone crying to mama and one who would have given new meaning to the phrase, “Hell hath no fury….”. Nevertheless, Maribel chose the path that I am certain I would have taken twenty-something years ago. She picked up a rock and zinged it as hard as she could and “KLUNK!”….she made contact. It’s like a page from a story of my childhood. Little Johnny Waterballoon had to have a couple of stitches and his mother and father said, “all is fair” and moved on.

It’s what happened next that not only amazes me, but makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The Fresno Mayor and Police Chief charged little 11 year-old Maribel Cuevas with Felony Assault With a Deadly Weapon. After the incident in April, this young lady spent 5 days in a juvenile detention center and a month on house arrest – and she hasn’t even been tried for her “crime” yet.

Now, I have a 12 year-old daughter who in all likelihood, would not think before reacting if faced with this same scenario. What makes my hair stand on end is the thought of her being arrested and charged with a felony crime for acting in a manner that would be relative to her age and maturity. Because guess what folks – pre-teen kids aren’t grown-ups! They don’t think before they react. Their responses are often times NOT thought-out responses. Why? Because that’s the natural order of things!

I did a little research on Fresno, California and learned that in 2003, the population of Fresno was less than 500,000 people. Also in the year 2003, the violent crime rate was 7.8 per 1000 people. Now, let’s compare that to a city on the east coast. In the year 2003, Philadelphia’s population was more than 1.5 million people, yet the violent crime rate was LESS THAN HALF that of Fresno. After reading those stats, am I the only person who thinks perhaps the Mayer and Police Chief of Fresno could make better use of their time and the taxpayer’s dollars by prosecuting REAL criminals?

I’ll be following this story and I sincerely hope the authorities in Fresno come to their senses and let the families of these kids handle what is obviously a “neighborhood thing”. In the mean time, I hope anyone reading this will take advantage of the power of free speech and e-mail our friends, Jerry Dyer (Chief of Police) and Alan Autry (Mayor) to let them know just how outlandish this whole situation has become. Also, check out for more information.

P.S. If anyone needs help figuring out what punishment REALLY fits this crime – I think my mother is still available.

CNN reports that:
Maribel Cuevas was ordered to meet with her young victim and talk about the fight under the deal -- reached on the same day the girl was to stand trial. She did not have to plead guilty, and the charges will be dismissed if she stays in school and keeps out of trouble.
That's good news. I would like to think the authorities did what they thought was best for the children, but the truth is - they probably reacted to the bad publicity they were getting and decided to make it "go away". I also think it's worth taking note of this paragraph in the article:
Police responded with three cars while a helicopter hovered overhead, and said they arrested Cuevas for resisting arrest and scratching an officer's arm.
Let's face it, folks. If you were 11 years old, surrounded by three police cruisers and had a helicopter hovering overhead (talk about your overkill!), do you think it' s possible that you might get scared and try to get away? In my experience, kids react (most of the time) in one of two ways when they're scared..they either freeze or they run. I suppose I should say all is well that ends well. I hope, for Maribel's sake, this is the end of it. Read the whole story here.


  • At 6:30 PM, August 04, 2005, Anonymous Mike said…

    Thanks for your write-up. Maribel's attorney credited the site with bringing this sorry episode to a close and thanks to everyone who helped.

    Why it took so long to reach the conclusion "Get together and say you're sorry" when that was what all parties wanted from the start is a mystery to me!


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