Rehabilitation? Or just sending a message?

Mikey 26 comments
  • Legal and Law
  • Hypothetical
  • Crime
Rehabilitation? Or just sending a message?

In 1976 a young girl of just nineteen years was jailed on drug charges, and due to lax security was able to walk out of a corrections facility after serving only 1 year of her 10 year sentence. Flash forward 32 years and she is caught by authorities who have discovered she is not only married with 3 children, but has an outstanding reputation for being devoted to her family's well being.

Believe it or not, this is the situation 53 year old Susan LeFevre (pictured right and below) is facing right now. Her husband and children knew nothing of her past and are naturally having a hard time dealing with the shock.

Susan LeFevre

I find this story interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly that she was able to elude the authorities and carry on a normal life for so long, but secondly and more importantly the question of rehabilitation is raised. If being sent to jail is about rehabilitation, and LeFevre is currently an outstanding law abiding citizen, should she have to fulfil the rest of her sentence?

Apparently she does. LeFevre is now serving the remainder of her sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2013, but her lawyer says she plans to ask that her sentence be commuted.

If she were a murderer I would say lock her up. But she isn't a murderer and it sounds like her previous actions were more consistent with that of a typical teenager who made a lousy mistake.

So exactly who would benefit from her going to prison? If it were up to me I would let her and her family be.

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Gina Squitieri

Saturday 10th May 2008 | 09:33 PM

Hi, Michael.

Excellent article.

(I'm reminded of the movie w/ Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn and Jon Travolta called "She's So Lovely.")

That is a travesty of our judicial system. She learns the error of her way and goes on to do right; while cig manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies who actually do kill millions of people some times don't even get so much as a slap on the wrist.

The only people who could possibly benefit from her going to prison (assuming she's as innocent as she appears), are the people who make their living off of sending people to prison, the guards who work in prison, and the parole officers, et al.

(I couldn't get in to comment, Michael; it is because you were updating the site?)

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Saturday 10th May 2008 | 09:42 PM response to this comment by Gina Squitieri. Thanks Gina.

Yeah it's a sucky situation for the woman and I can't see how it benefits anyone. The woman is clearly already rehabilitated from her old ways, something we all get with the passage of time, age and experience. Plus I think that first year in jail probably straightened her out somewhat.

The site was down for about 10 minutes while I made the upgrade. After that some people might have had to refresh the page to avoid seeing cached remnants of the old site. Hope you like the new changes.

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Saturday 10th May 2008 | 10:00 PM

I'm in 2 minds with this. I agree she is probably no danger to anyone and if what is being reported about her is true then she will contribute to society better on the outside.

But responsibility doesn't have a statute of limitations so why should she get a free pass just because she was lucky to escape? Her family has more or less been duped but I'm leaning towards letting her off the hook.

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Gina Squitieri

Saturday 10th May 2008 | 10:09 PM response to this comment by Mikey. I do like the new changes, Michael. Really and truly.

I was going to ask: Would you consider putting links to your articles and your contributors' articles inside all of your bios so they're accessible that way? For example:

Michael's Bio:

Hi, I'm Michael!

I'm all that and a bag o' chips! :D (You know I adore you.) Here are the links to all of my articles:
Article 1 (link)
Article 2 (link)
Article 3 (link) and so on.....

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Saturday 10th May 2008 | 10:43 PM response to this comment by Gina Squitieri. Funny you should say that - I spoke to our back-end guy Mark about an hour ago and requested that exact feature. Hopefully he will be able to do it this weekend.

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Sunday 11th May 2008 | 12:12 AM

In today’s world, where so many things have become a business, or privatized, how can we be surprised that this gal is back in jail? Here in America, we have this so call "War on Drugs" which is in reality a multi faceted way of not only making money available to skim by those in the know, but it literally exacerbates and perpetuates the problem.

I'm not sure now many million persons are in jail in the U.S. but, well, it's just another example of all the stupid wrong things our leaders do, that is not in the best interests of the population.

You can be sure, whatever issue is put before the legislature, and the wrong decision will be made. Or, if a smart bill, which makes read sense, goes up, it will be defeated. And I don’t mean this happened sometimes, I mean 100%

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Gina Squitieri

Sunday 11th May 2008 | 12:49 AM response to this comment by Mikey. Really?! Hey, that means I'm smart! :D

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Gina Squitieri

Sunday 11th May 2008 | 12:52 AM response to this comment by Friendo. "it literally exacerbates and perpetuates the problem."


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Sunday 11th May 2008 | 02:45 AM

My gosh! 10yrs. on drug charges? That's ridiculous in the first place. There is a case here locally of vehicular homicide and the woman faces only up to 5yrs. I would say the 1yr. she served and the fact that she is a clean, productive citizen is more than adequate to erase her crime. Unbelievable!

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Sunday 11th May 2008 | 02:59 AM

yes i read about this story earlier in the week, my view, is that the rest of her sentance should be eliminated for good behavior as a citizen. She never got in trouble again, and whats most amazing, it that she is a loving wife!!! OMG can we hire her??

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Mallory Stone

Monday 12th May 2008 | 10:09 AM

It depends on what the 'Drug Charges' were. Big difference between using and dealing.

I'd think that after 32 years, however, the statute of limitations on the original crime would have expired. Perhaps that should be considered when assessing her sentence now.

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Joe Marco

Monday 12th May 2008 | 01:25 PM

Drug laws are absurd.

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Tuesday 13th May 2008 | 05:30 AM

Susan LeFevre was convicted in 1974 of taking $600 from an undercover officer during a heroin drug sting, she served nearly a year of her 10- to 20-year sentence at the Robert Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth Michigan before escaping. She was 21 at the time.

In today's world this sentence would seem excessive. However, incarcerating Susan, or Marie Walsh (her alias), today after 32 years of good behavior would seem counter to any concept of rehabilitation and merely be a punitive measure with no value to society. The saying "an eye for an eye" is a reminder that the punishment should befit the seriousness of the crime but no more. That she has been apprehended, that the good she has done since then is trashed by the media, that she must answer to all regarding her deception and receive their condemnation, that she has lived in guilt and fear of all this for so many years longer than her sentence...isn't that enough?

I doubt Solomon would jail her now.

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Wednesday 11th June 2008 | 11:46 AM

while I agree that a large part of prison is in fact rehabilitation, the very nature of retributive justice demands that we do more than just consider whether or not she is doing society any good. when one willfully and knowingly breaks a justifiable law then retributive justice necessitates that they be punished otherwise the whole idea of a social contract begins to break down. And yes i agree the 10 years for drugs charge is ridiculous.

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Friday 13th June 2008 | 05:17 PM

There is one problem with letting her go. It creates situation where other prisoneres may think that if they will behave well they have right to escape prison and live happily ever after. Probably any prisoner would say that he/she will "be good" now and demands the same privilages as this woman.

I understand that she has rehabilitaded and has shown that she lerned her lesson, but she did using wrong tools. It's not Machavelli-world.

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Thursday 26th June 2008 | 10:23 PM response to this comment by Koori. @Koori, if prisoners that escape have a strong incentive to behave, isn't that a good thing? Isn't it better that someone that escapes and successfully avoids being recaptured tries to live a law abiding life in the hope that they get off lightly if they're ever caught, than if they escape and go on a new crime spree because it won't really matter to them?

I find the entire idea that it should be a "problem" if prisoners thinks they'd be rewarded if they behave well quite ludicrous.

Of course they should be prevented from escaping in the first place, but most of them shouldn't be locked up for anything nearly the kind of lengths they are or in the conditions they are in the first place - the reoffending rates in most countries is proof enough that the prison systems we have needs dramatic changes.

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Sunday 27th July 2008 | 07:33 AM

I think she is lucky they only asked her fulfill the original sentence and did not try her for Escaping, a whole new charge. While our legal system (I avoid the term Justice System for the very lack of justice) is definately not perfect, it is what we have. She should be required to serve a certain amount of the original sentence, but consideration of her current life must go into the equation as well. but I will leave that to the judges.

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Sunday 27th July 2008 | 03:03 PM

Why do people kill people,
who kill people,
to show people that to kill people is bad?

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Wednesday 25th March 2009 | 07:40 AM

So basically, a drug dealer escapes from prison, and doesn't get caught until 10 years later and you say, let them be.
What kind of message would you be sending to the rest of the population?
Go ahead, sell drugs, then run from jail, it's OK, we don't mind.

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Bob Slefty

Friday 3rd April 2009 | 06:42 AM response to this comment by DocZayus. you're not really a doctor are you? an uninformed and narrow minded excuse for a human being maybe but a doctor, methinks not.

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Sunday 5th April 2009 | 01:56 PM

Excellent mugshot.

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Tuesday 7th April 2009 | 08:16 AM

I respectfully disagree. If you can arbitrarily say that she shouldn't have to serve the punishment for her crime, why should anyone else have to? Our legal system is full of people who can make excellent excuses as to why they shouldn't have to face up to their unlawful behavior.

She broke the law. She got caught. She got sent to jail, where she broke the law again. There aren't really shades of gray to this issue. If you don't like the punishment, run for office or demand that your elected officials change what's on the books - meanwhile, DON'T break the law.

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Tuesday 14th April 2009 | 11:34 PM

I think the issue here is the hypocrisy of our judicial system. In the real world the law must be upheld or it will crumble and innocent people will eventually be in danger, but instead of calling it what it is PUNISHMENT we like to call it CORRECTIONS. This implies that we want to rehabilitate the offender when all we really want to do is uphold the law. I think most people will agree that rehabilitation is a joke in our's merely something for local/state politicians to talk about during election season.

What is happening to this woman is justice, not rehabilitation. For her, incarceration will not provide will provide justice and allow her to pay her debt to society. It really sucks that she has now brought other innocent people into the mix(her new family), because now they will be hurt by this.

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Andrea L

Wednesday 15th April 2009 | 06:20 AM response to this comment by JS. "What is happening to this woman is justice"

Justice for who? No one was harmed. According to this article ( she's only guilty of buying drugs for herself - not to go and sell to kids or anything like that. The Michigan authorities even say it was a minor charge and a 10 year sentence is excessive.

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Saturday 9th October 2010 | 07:05 PM

Jail time isn't really about rehabilitation, but more of a deterrant to others considering breaking the law. On the one hand, she should still pay the price for breaking the law (it was just unfortunate that she was caught, whilst other teenagers would've gotten away with it). On the other hand, she's unlikely to reoffend, so there's no real point in locking her up now. Also, if this was jail time served over taking marajuana then jail time is definitely pointless, more people die from alcohol abuse than marajuana.

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Thursday 17th February 2011 | 07:51 AM

Of 2 minds about this.

1. She's perfectly fine now. Hasn't broken any laws why go back to jail?
2. On the other... she did break the law. Neither did she fulfill her sentence. And she escaped from prison. Again broke the law.

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