In Washington D.C. 2002, two snipers terrorized a city and sent shock waves around the world. They killed 10 people over a 23-day period.
Five years later Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the snipers who was 17 at the time of the murders, is a changed young man according to social worker Carmeta Albarus-Lindo who has spent hundreds of hours with Malvo since his arrest.
Lee Boyd Malvo wrote in a letter to CNN that he is "still grappling with shame, guilt, remorse."
John Allen Muhammad, the older sniper/murderer, is on death row at Sussex One, a Virginia prison.
"That boy was a victim before he even knew it." Muhammad's ex-wife, Mildred says, regarding Malvo, "His life was over when he said, 'Hi.'" She claims and many people believe young Malvo was heavily brainwashed by the older man whom he called "Dad." Malvo met Muhammad two years before the shooting and Muhammad became a kind of a father to Malvo. The older man taught an impressionable Malvo that violence was the only way to correct racial problems especially for African-Americans.
Now it appears that Malvo is entitled to a little mercy and compassion from a society that seems to be preoccupied with the political rants of getting tough on crime. Too often our system of justice has been replaced with a system that seems to be self-serving for the players involved while little time is spent on finding truth and understanding the causes of crimes committed. Revenge without knowledge is the order of the day where judges no longer judge. They have become referees in a linguistic battle of technicalities. Because of minimum mandatory laws, these judges have almost no say in what happens to a person who may have been as much a victim as the original victims of the crime.
Malvo will serve many years behind bars, and he may never be released. But can a man change? Can a person who commits an abominable act ever be accepted back into society? What can we as a society do for these people we call inmates, convicts, jailbirds, cons, and felons? Most will be released and many will be worse than they were when they entered prison or jail.
Society brands former inmates with catchy titles, like ex-cons, when these people actually should be called by their true titles: fathers, grandfathers, sons and daughters of people who love them.
Malvo has taken some college correspondence courses and he draws pictures in his 23 hour-a-day lockdown cell at the Red Onion Correctional Center in Wise County, Virginia. Isn't it society's duty to correct these 2 million men and women who are doing time in America's jails and prisons? Incarceration, in and of it's self is punishment enough. What we should be doing is preparing people to go home and do something other than commit crimes. They should be taught a trade or profession and be given jobs upon release. Once released, they have paid their price for their crimes, and we as a society should quit judging them and punishing them for what is over. Of course some violent inmates should never be released until they have proven, as much as possible, that they will not repeat their crimes.
Society as a whole will benefit with less crime if we have prepared these people to become productive members of society.
Malvo needed a father figure in his life. He picked the wrong one or the wrong one picked him. Let's not abandon him again. He and all the others in his place could use a few words of encouragement.