Today, the Court of Criminal Appeals decided to uphold a previous judgement and jail a mother for three months.
Not assault, not drugs, and not even theft.
Her crime, if you so want to call it, was that of not allowing her ex-husband access to their 16-year-old son Daniel, even though Daniel, who is now 17, testified in court that it was his decision not to visit the dad.
I was so shocked with the judgement that I had to read the Judge’s final statement in its full glory. Though sceptical, I was hoping that I’d find something that would justify such an inflated punishment for such a non-crime, but alas I didn’t.
Whilst technically the mother did commit a crime, in order not to, she had one option – that of dragging her 16-year-old son by the hair and delivering him to his father screaming and kicking.
Anyone who has ever dealt with teenagers, especially 16 to 18 year old boys (who are at that awkward stage when think they’re adults but legally aren’t), will tell you just how difficult, if not impossible it is to get them to wash their teeth, let alone to spend time with someone they don’t want to spend time with.
The mother’s defence tried to explain this, arguing that the court needed to take into consideration that at the time of the incident, the son Daniel, was not a five-year-old but a 16-year-old. It also explained how the parents had been separated since 1994, when Daniel was still four years old, but only regularised their custody and visitation arrangement in 2007, when Daniel, was already 13.
The judgement also mentions that between December 2010 and February 2011, a court appointed mediator had given Daniel the right to choose what he wanted to do. The mediator, Godwin Genoveze, thought that Daniel was old and mature enough to decide for himself, and Daniel had chosen not to visit his father.
But these are superfluous details really - the one thing that really got my goat was that, on the one hand the court claimed to be concerned about the parents’ immature behaviour and how this will eventually affect their son’s personality, and on the other, it went on to jail the mother for three months, only to contribute further to this family’s problems.
Let’s face it; if a child of that age already has a bad relationship with his dad, he will always, and forever, blame the dad for sending his mother to jail for three months.
The mother on the other hand, will always be his hero, the person who went to jail to give him what he wanted.
It is, therefore, beyond me how the court can possibly think that this judgement will somehow help this family.