Patricia Calhoun's story about her father's relationship with his mentee, and his explanation of why he considered Byron a "godson," was the most moving piece I've ever read. The excerpts from his correspondence were truly remarkable; I see where she gets her way with words.
Thank you for sharing this.
Patricia, thanks for taking the time to tell the story of your mentoring dad and his mentee Byron: a really feel-good experience when there's so much other not-nice stuff in the media. Please tell your mom and dad how much I admire their signing on and staying with Byron though some difficult times.
I've saved the article to read every now and again when I feel the good side of humanity needs to be applauded.
Both the homeowners and insurance companies for those burned homes are victims in this incident. As victims, they have much say in how the process proceeds. There has been some media talk about restorative justice, and I applaud raising the profile of this strategy to address many of these types of issues. This jurisdiction has a highly skilled network of restorative-justice service providers that I worked with as a mediator years ago. Not every incident is appropriate for this type of mediation, but this one cries out for this strategy to be further explored. I have personally facilitated agreements among parties in which everyone was greatly relieved, satisfied and thrilled to have the opportunity to address the issues in this environment instead of court and litigation.
There is simply no reason why this child should go through the system as Carol Chambers has determined. If my understanding is correct — that once the child is charged criminally, the mother's homeowner's insurance would not pay the restitution damages — then Chambers's stated concern for the victims being compensated is suspicious. I would suspect the insurance companies and homeowner victims would be happy to have another insurance company come up with cash right away instead of relying on a ten-year-old to pay restitution over many decades, if ever. Either way, there are more effective strategies to address restitution from a ten-year-old while also supporting other community values and goals.
It is also interesting to note that if that child were a resident in one of the homes that burned, the child would probably not be charged, and the incident as described would be considered an accident stemming from a poor decision by a child. I would venture a guess that over 80 percent of adults (probably higher for men) have taken some action as a child that did or could have easily resulted in significant property damage or personal injury, and yet somehow the incidents resolved themselves privately and those children grew up to be honest, caring, productive, responsible citizens. If the goals are to secure reasonable restitution, assure that the child learns from this incident and is appropriately monitored to minimize any future risk, and adhere to Colorado statutes providing that the "best interest of the child" is paramount, than charging the child criminally is not the most effective strategy to employ.
Editor's note: For more on Alan Prendergast's story of Jacob Christenson, go to latestwordblog.com.
As I read the Chef and Tell column featuring Rachel Kesley of WaterCourse Foods, I wondered if you would next be featuring the head chef of, say, Applebee's or perhaps Golden Corral.