A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Mother's Promise

I was eleven years old, living in Lincoln, Nebraska when I decided I couldn't stand winter anymore. It was early in March and winter refused to give up its grip on the weather. I'd had it with three foot snowfalls and piles of ice and snow I was sure would last until July.

It was a Sunday afternoon after church; sun shining down on that stubborn white stuff on the ground that refused to melt. Somewhere underneath, I knew green grass and the promise of warmer weather was just waiting to burst out and sweep all the cold stuff away. I'd even checked. I burrowed down deep with a shovel and found the hint of green in the grass. Thinking about the arrival of summer days gave me a warm thought of things to come. Long days without school, riding bikes and visits to the grandparents' farms came to mind as well as lazy afternoons laying on our backs and watching those giant white clouds move slowly across the summer sky listening to an AM transistor radio.

My mom, sympathetic with my late winter blues, set me up in the kitchen with some used egg cartons, potting soil and a few garden seeds and told me we could get a head start on the flower beds and garden and maybe...just maybe, she promised, we could help spring along just a little.

The milder weather today reminded me that it won't be long now. My thoughts went back to that earlier time. I got busy and put a few morning glory seeds in starter trays and set them in the front hall where they will get a fair amount of light and warmth.

With a little water, some sunshine and some fond memories, there's gonna be some new arrivals to welcome spring soon. Seems that a mother's promise lasts a long, long time.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Onion Field

I wanted to take a moment and remember Officer Ian Campbell, a Los Angeles police officer who was brutally murdered over 30 years ago. He was murdered by Jimmy Lee Smith.

Jimmy Lee Smith died recently. He and Gregory Powell were accused of abducting both Campbell and his partner Officer Karl Hettinger. CNN has a good outline of that story here.

In 1973, Joseph Wambaugh, a former Los Angeles police officer, detailed the story in his book The Onion Field and then the 1979 movie with the same name provided national prominence to the killing.

Ironically Smith had initially been sentenced to death but was later paroled when the death penalty was suspended back in the 1970's. According to the CNN report, Smith was in and out of jail after his parole. His partner, Gregory Powell, is still in prison and has been denied parole several times.

Ironically, Smith was already on parole for other offenses when he killed Officer Ian Campbell.