To have and to hold... In sickness and in health... Sometime in the next five to ten...
Representative Rich Engels, someone I consider a friend of mine (and former co-worker from my days at the Division of Insurance) has always been a person I've enjoyed talking politics with, but politically we're probably at opposite ends of the spectrum. Tonight, as noted in the Argus, I'm seeing how far the ends of that spectrum go as I see he's petitioning the court to allow 2 people about to plead guilty to drugs and theft to be able to marry while they serve out their sentences. :
Read it all here. You've got to be kidding me! You've really got to be kidding me!
Two lovebirds became jailbirds several months ago when they were arrested on theft and drug charges.
The co-defendant couple, in their early 20s and engaged to be married, have been in Minnehaha County Jail since their arrests. With both anticipating plea agreements and facing several years at separate prisons, they'd like to get married soon.
"I wouldn't plan on it happening while they're in my custody," Milstead said.
Engels said there is no law requiring inmates be allowed to marry, so he plans on writing one and introducing it next session.and...
Deputy state's attorney Gordy Swanson first advised Engels that the county is not bound to facilitate jailhouse marriages. He said a Nov. 17 phone conversation with Engels ended with a veiled threat.
"He said something to the effect of, 'If that's the level of cooperation I'm going to get from the county, that's the level of cooperation the county is going to get from me in the Legislature,' " Swanson said. "I was shocked."
The legislator acknowledged he was upset about what he called an "arbitrary" decision.
"I'll admit I was a little bit frustrated in talking to Gordy because I feel I didn't get an adequate explanation," Engels said.
"I probably said something to that effect, but I immediately felt bad about it. Certainly, I'm going to work with the county on their priorities."
I'll dial the outrage down a couple of notches and just note for the record that that if I were in legal trouble, I'd certainly want my attorney to advocate for me as Rich is for his clients. He's obviously looking out for their interests.
That being said, tonight I care for society's interests. You still have got to be kidding me! Here are two people in custody for theft and drug charges and their crying about getting married. Maybe they should have considered that before they went on their crime spree.
In my view, society doesn't owe them anything at this point. They did the crime, so they need to do the time. And part of that time is a process which society doesn't require be convenient to their marital needs.
It's not like it's forever anyway. When they are in State custody, it appears to be allowable. Maybe they need to get drug and other treatment before they start their married life. Regardless, should we accommodate their requests? I don't think so.
I wouldn't have advised Rich to go all legislative on Minnehaha County either. That was a bad move which took client advocacy to a level where it would bring his re-achieved position into play, making a political hot potato out of what had just been client advocacy.
And as a political hot potato, Argusleader.com is doing some polling on it - and what have they come up with so far (unscientifically):
77% to 22% against. Almost as bad as the South Dakota JAIL Amendment. South Dakotans don't want their inmates (county or otherwise) to enjoy wedded bliss. They want them to serve their debt to society. And there it isn't differentiating between the county (which doesn't allow it) and the state (which does).
What's the biggest danger in this legislation being brought? None as far as I'm concerned, but I think Rich might want to look before he leaps.
Because in bringing up this kind of legislation, the debate will be opened. And given the lack of public support for it, instead of enforcing it at the county prison, Republican legislators may just institute a complete ban - for both county and penitentiary.