By now most have heard the story of Susan LeFerve. The former Michigan resident was arrested at 19 for taking $600 from an undercover officer during a heroin drug sting in 1974. She served about one year of a 10- to 20-year sentence before walking away from prison, saying she threw a coat over a barbed wire fence and climbed into a waiting vehicle where her grandfather and another relative were saying the rosary.
LeFevre headed for California and used a Social Security number belonging to someone who died in 1981, a number she says she made up, said Steve Jurman, the federal Marshal who arrested her. She obtained a California driver’s license using a false date of birth but didn’t renew it after it expired in 1999.
Her 32 years of freedom ended April 24, when federal marshals acting on an anonymous tip from Michigan arrested her at her home in Del Mar. Police described her home as a mansion in Carmel Valley, where she lived with her husband, two daughters and a son — 15, 20 and 22.
Her husband of 23 years, Alan Walsh, said his family was blindsided and grief-stricken by the revelation that Marie Day, the woman he fell in love with and who bore his three children, had hidden a criminal past.
Enter Buddy Moorehouse, metro-editor for the Daily Press & Argus. Moronhouse has this column about the case, and to put it lightly, he’s an idiot.
Here’s what Buddy has to say:
So, the question is: Should LeFevre be in prison? My opinion: Yes, she should.
No matter how good a person she is now, and no matter how clean her life has been since escaping from prison, the fact of the matter is this: Back in 1974, she committed a crime, and she earned a prison sentence for it. Then she committed another crime in 1976 by escaping from prison.
We can’t let the prisoners themselves decide how long they should be in prison. If LeFevre’s sentence is commuted, the message to any other youthful offender will be this: “If you feel that you can live a good life from here on out, just escape from prison, keep your nose clean for a few decades, and everything will be fine.”
Sure Bud, that’s what any other youthful offender will think. All those in prison will idolize LeFerve, and escape attempts will reach record highs. Prisoners will forget about all the other escape attempts that have failed—by far the norm—and stay awake at night and think, “Susan did it…so can I.” And because escaping from prison is so easy, we’ll have to lock our doors to stay safe from all the escapees.
Newsflash Moronhouse—prisons have changed a bit since the late 1970s, and throwing a jacket over the fence probably isn’t going to cut it anymore. Surely we would have more escapees if that was the case, but our wonderful prison system has prevented that by spending [wasting] an outrageous amount of money building some of the most secure facilities in the world.
Officials in Michigan say that it’s pretty likely that if she does go back to prison, she’ll probably be eligible for parole in 2013. This upper-class suburban mom — a pillar of the community who apparently hasn’t had so much as a parking ticket in the past three decades — will likely be spending the next five-plus years in prison.
Is that fair? Is that right? Does that make any sense at all?
Unfortunately, yes. Marie Walsh has to pay for the crimes of LeFevre, because that’s the way it works.
You’ll be paying too, Bud, according to this recent article in the Detroit News. The state will take $200 from you, and $200 from your wife. That’s how much it costs each Michigan resident to house an inmate for a year. Five years will cost your family $2,000. But hey, gotta deter those escape attempts! It will cost your state $31,325 per year to house LeFerve, and help maintain the $2 billion a year Michigan spends on incarceration. As if that’s not enough for a state that spends more on prisons than education, your state’s prison costs will continue to force it to cut jobs for police officers and firefighters so more money is available to keep prisoners from throwing their jackets over the fence.
Moronhouse goes on:
I had a long talk with my wife the other day about this case. She was extremely sympathetic to this woman’s plight, and tried to put herself in Marie Walsh’s shoes.
“She probably should have to go back to prison,” my wife said, “but I’ll bet that if you talked to her, she’d say that she doesn’t regret a thing. She got to spend all those years building a better life for herself, and she has a husband and three kids because of it. But, yeah, I guess she should be back in prison.”
At least we know if the Moronhouses were in this situation, Buddy’s wife would be packing her bags and turning herself in, doing the right thing. Yeah, I bet.
This case is ridiculous. LeFerve has been living a normal life in our society for 32 years. Evidence shows prisons are failing miserably at rehabilitation, and one cannot help but wonder if LeFerve would be leading such a normal life if she had served her full sentence. That’s not to say we should open all the cells and let prisoners out into society, but there are always exceptions, in every aspect of life. Moronhouse argues that we’d be setting a bad precedent and that prisoners must do their time. But if that’s the case, why don’t we remove the pardon power completely? Putting this woman back in prison will serve no legitimate purpose.