Colton had better use his jail time wisely | Editorial

We’re nearing the end of the Colton Harris-Moore saga, after his sentencing in December. Did the punishment fit the crime? Not really, but we’re hopeful this whole mess will have a somewhat happy outcome.

Harris-Moore is one very fortunate criminal. He is lucky that his antics captured a nation’s attention. He is lucky that he secured accomplished lawyers and that he’s from a small, middle-class town. He is lucky to have never hurt anyone with the guns he stole. He is lucky that when he stole planes, it was not considered a threat to homeland security.

If the circumstances were different, the Barefoot Bandit would be spending a lot more time behind bars. His recent sentencing has given him a second chance at living, but left a sour taste in some people’s mouths.

Harris-Moore, now 20, received a prison sentence of just over seven years for his extensive list of property crimes. Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill cited the non-violent nature of Harris-Moore’s crimes and his difficult upbringing as reasons to tread lightly on the young man.

The Orcas community is familiar with his exploits. Harris-Moore violated islanders’ homes, stole boats and airplanes and vandalized businesses. He cost us our sense of safety, not mention thousands of dollars in property damage.

He showed wisdom when vowing to pay back all that he owes to his victims through his movie deal with 20th Century Fox. But for many, it’s just not enough. Once innocence is gone, it cannot be returned.

We think Harris-Moore’s sentence was too light, yet we admire Judge Churchill for showing compassion to someone whom she believes deserves a life beyond his criminal past.

In the spirit of the season, we extend that mercy to a man who turned our community upside down for two years.

We hope the Barefoot Bandit realizes how lucky he is. Despite what his lawyers say, we don’t believe he has diminished mental capacity. He had better use his time in prison to learn, grow and mature. Don’t squander this second chance, Colton. You may never get it again.


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