Big story on Google News today – inmate Dannie Robbie Hembree Jr., convicted murderer of Heather Catterton writes a letter from a North Carolina prison espousing how he has been living the good life since his conviction. In his letter he says”
“Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well balanced hot meals a day,” Hembree asked in the letter. “I’m housed in a building that connects to the new 55 million dollar hospital with round the clock free medical care 24/7.”
The article goes on to say that the victim’s family is furious about the letter, and rightly so – but maybe not for the right reasons. I’m not sure we should prevent an inmate from doing something like this. If this is true, and somehow I don’t doubt that it is, someone who has been convicted of murder is sitting around living a life that many people on the outside cannot afford to do – watching tv, eating three squares a day, and what about that access to health care? Many Americans would love to have that. And he goes on in the letter to say that the likelihood of him being put two death within the next 20 years is nil. So who is being punished here, really?
But one thing he says make me believe that by his actions he could help the change the system. First of all he is creating enough of a furor to heighten the awareness of the general public. For too long we have put our head in the sand regarding how screwed up the justice system in this country can be. In his letter he challenges those on the “outside” to do what was decided in the courtroom and and murder him. Strong language, but sometimes we need the wet towel slap to wake up. He is doing an “in your face” with the public and basically saying put up or shut up. He is challenging a justice system that tends to err on the side of puritanical civility by holding up the mirror on how we treat victims and criminals – ass backwards. This may be wisdom in its basest form. The system is a joke, the victim and their families live through torture for years and the person who perpetrates the crime gets three warm meals and state-of-the-art health care. Mr. Embree is a genius as far as I am concerned. When will we ever learn?