This afternoon, I would like to talk about Jonah. He’s the guy in my tank that is the felon, turned “Bible beater”. On my first day here at the Gist unit I was in the tank for less than an hour before he had besieged me, asked me if I was sure I wasn’t going to Hell, and tried to get me to dial some 1-900-GOD-SAVES number. Turns out this guy has a very interesting side story in addition to what I’d like to discuss about his religious tendencies.
The side story: Jonah was being pursued by an officer in Texarkana, AR. Jonah was in a pickup truck and fled across the state line into Texarkana TX. This chase was at roughly 3 am one morning on a fairly deserted stretch of highway. Upon crossing the state line, the Arkansas officer continued to pursue Jonah, but let multiple Texas DPS officers in from of him, so that they could lead in the pursuit of Jonah. Well, eventually, Jonah either pulls over or gets stopped in relatively lack luster fashion and is arrested. Amongst other charges, he is charged with some degree of assault with a deadly weapon because of the fact that his vehicle had endangered the lives of the officers involved in the chase. Jonah was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Jonah did have a prior criminal record and this contributed to his sentence length. All of the above references are non-disputed facts of this case. The interesting part follows. On appeal, Jonah’s attorney argued that Jonah’s vehicle should not have been classified as a deadly weapon because Jonah never endangered anyone with it. By using the actual video tapes from the Texas patrol cars the attorney established that Jonah never passed or crossed paths with another vehicle. The Texas trooper’s own testimony solidified this. The attorney argued that the DA used the rationale that the troopers were endangered by merely following Jonah. The attorney further argued that if this rationale was accurate then every single instance of evading arrest in a vehicle would be the same “use of deadly force” scenario and should carry the same punishment. The attorney argued that the laws were written to differentiate between a “normal” evading arrest case and an aggravated one. Jonah’s attorney was successful and the case was overturned. The state then appealed, but was not victorious. Jonah was granted a new trial and accepted a 10 year plea agreement. He has actually already been paroled once and is back in here on a parole violation. All the law enforcement officers out there can thank Jonah for establishing this case law in the state of Texas. All of the above is summarily true and accurate. I read about it here in our law library. Research David Drichas if you want to learn more. Personally, I am on the side of Jonah in this matter.
Like I said, Jonah’s chase scene is a side note. What I am curious about is all of the phony messiah hoopla that goes on in here concerning God, religion, “seeing the light”, and “leaving everything in God’s hands”. My main saying in here is “You cut your own deals.” Therefore, I have absolutely have zero problem if every person in here wants to grab a Bible, the Koran, or for that matter, ride a magic carpet, but leave me out of it. What mind set would someone need to make themselves think that they should be trying to persuade others to adhere to their own religious beliefs? Please keep in mind that I am not speaking in generalities. I am speaking specifically of prison inmates. I think that the reason the guys do this is to try to overcompensate for the crimes they committed. The guys proclaim that it was God’s will for them to come to prison and they are continuing God’s work by trying to educate others. I say “Hogwash”. I think it is a meagerly thin pole to try to stand behind to hide the fact that they can’t own up to what they did wrong. I think that they are scared of falling into the same lowly patterns that led them to commit their crime. They know these patterns and their lifestyle is wrong, but they are either too weak or too scared to try to change it. Thanks for listening to my tirade!
My questions to you are these: (1) Should all vehicle pursuits be treated in the same way and be met with the same sentence, or should some be considered more or less severe? (2) Why do people (in general, not just prisoners) try to force their religion upon you? Why do prisoners so frequently turn to the bible when it has never before been a factor in their life? Do you think that the prisoners truly feel that they will continue with their religious ways once they are released, or do you think these prisoners know that their “Bible thumping” is only a splint for a very bad wound? Obviously, all your comments are welcome.
I have a friend in here that I have previously discussed this issue with. I’m going to try and get him to write a bit to explain his position. Hopefully he can share some of his thoughts with us.