I am all for being a law-abiding citizen. I understand that we have laws and penalties for good reasons. I do take issue sometimes though with the sensibility of some laws and penalties. Case-in-point, the Devils Lake man who was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson to 20 months in prison (to be followed by three years of supervised release) for assaulting a federal officer.
The defendant, Gavin Little, pleaded guilty in January to this assault which occurred in August 2012 while he was being transported to the Devils Lake Regional Law Enforcement Center. And the assault that landed Little in prison for almost two years – he urinated on an officer.
Now before I move on, I will note that I could easily devote a solid 200 plus words here with what I would deem humorous Lewis Black-like commentary on this crime, but I won’t because aside from the potential for humor, this is quite a serious matter. After all, this young man’s life will be profoundly affected by this sentence. One does not go to prison and then experience parole without it leaving quite a mark.
I have searched in vain to find more details on this story. I think there must be something more than what I have read – surely, this about more than just simple offensive urination. It has to be right? Because it really doesn’t make sense that someone urinating on you – no matter how offensive that is (and I am by no means in disagreement that it is offensive) – should result in a prison term. Unless of course that urine had the potential to cause you great bodily harm. Which begs the question – what was in that urine? I really do wonder.
I also wonder how Gavin Little came to urinate on an officer in a squad car and if it was intentional. I wonder if Gavin Little was drunk and just had to go. I wonder if such an event as a defendant urinating on an officer intentionally or unintentionally is all that rare.
I think of all the crazy things officers see and experience, getting urinated on is likely on the lower end of the crazy scale. So, if this is just a matter of being urinated on with garden variety urine – with or without intent – I would have to postulate that the sentence handed down is far too harsh for the offense. A little pee should not warrant time in the big “P” – a.k.a. the big house – a.k.a. prison.
I have four children. Do you know how many times I have been urinated on? My sons both managed to pee in my face as infants multiple times. Was it pleasant – no. Was it so damaging that it warranted criminal punishment – hardly. Sure, urinating on an officer is different and if deliberate should be punished, but not with jail or prison time. Be creative, make the offender clean the nastiest urinals you can find for 1,000 hours of community service. Why would you spend thousands of government dollars to incarcerate a person for this type of offense?
Gavin Little will now spend 20 months with real criminals. And make no mistake, by the time he gets out he will know how to conduct a more damaging assault than a urine assault. I don’t get it Judge Erickson. What were you thinking? Better yet, I ask again – what was in that urine?
Day one thousand three hundred and eighty-four of the new forty – obla di obla da