Pubdate: Sat, 02 Feb 2002
Source: News Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2002 The News Herald
Author: Terry McAllister


In reference to sloppy police work, an alternate juror for the Club La Vela 
trial said that "everybody makes mistakes." Now it seems the Florida 
Highway Patrol makes mistakes. The Sheriff's Office "I have a headache" 
case, too, was passed off as a mistake.

What does it take to make a mistake and be afforded the same consideration 
as these cases? Just what does it take?

Personally I think drug dealers need to be put on an island by themselves 
and left there, so I was really torn apart when my nephew was arrested on a 
charge of intent to distribute, released and rearrested on failure to give 
notice of new residence, all to get information on the infamous La Vela 
trial. All kinds of promises were made, charges dropped, charges added, and 
of the criminals involved in that case he is the only one to receive any time.

He made a mistake, but he is a nobody. He was so wrong, but so were all 
those within the criminal justice system who lied to him. They promised him 
everything just to testify against La Vela. They took the word of known 
drug offenders to catch him, used those same people to testify against La 
Vela and him and then reneged on the deal.

The deal was not in writing. But when a young man is looking at a life 
sentence he thinks the word of DEA officials, public defender, policemen 
and a federal prosecutor is the Gospel. He made a mistake. And he is the 
only one doing any time because he would not tell the lies they wanted him 
to tell.

To paraphrase Major J.B. Holloway, "he is my child, right or wrong." But my 
child does not receive the same latitude when he makes a mistake.

I stood at my sister's grave a few weeks ago and cried and apologized to 
her because I apparently made a lot of mistakes with her son. Whatever I 
did or did not do in raising her son I had to ask for her forgiveness, 
because by the time he gets out of federal prison he will be an old man - 
all because he made a mistake. And so I said to my sister, "I made a mistake."

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