I've tried to keep quiet about the Wes Ivie case, but I just can't do it anymore.
You see, my son got in trouble at Lakeside High School two and a half years ago, and he was treated somewhat differently than Ivie. The security person at Lakeside thought he smelled marijuana on my son, and asked him if he had any on him. My son was honest and said "yes."
The school called me and the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. When I got there my son, 16 years old at the time, had already given up the bag of weed to the deputy. The deputy admitted there wasn't enough marijuana in the baggie to even roll a joint, mostly just dust. So he obviously wasn't dealing the stuff.
This is where the way Wes Ivie was treated and my son was treated changed.
My son was brought to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, booked, charged with misdemeanor possession, and transported to the Youth Detention Center in Richmond County where he spent two nights. None of this happened to Ivie.
My wife and I attended a hearing to determine whether my son was going to be turned over to us, or remain in custody. Ivie's parents didn't have to do this.
My son came into the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit, with handcuffs and leg shackles. He was shackled to the seat once he sat down. I was in the Air Force for 30 years, and have seen my share of horrible things. This broke my heart like nothing I've ever seen. Neither Ivie nor his parents had to endure this.
The judge told my son "You are headed for trouble. Sometimes I just get a feeling about a kid, and I have that feeling about you." Mind you, like Ivie, my son had never been in trouble before. Ivie and his parents didn't have to listen to this.
I had to stand before the judge and practically beg him to release my son to our custody. He did so, but not before lecturing me on my responsibilities as a parent. Ivie's parents didn't go through this.
My son was suspended. Period. Ivie was allowed to keep going to school and doing his work.
My son also had a hearing before a school board member. His punishment? He was not allowed on any Columbia Country school grounds for six months or he would be expelled. He had to attend the alternative school for a semester. Ivie basically has to go to the alternative school for less than a month. ...
About two months after he was released from detention, my son went to court. He was found guilty of simple possession, put on probation for a year (I had to pay $600 for court costs), he had to provide random urine samples during that year (about six in all) which I had to pay for, had to perform 32 hours of community service, had to attend a class twice a week for a month, and had to attend drug counseling (which I also had to pay for). ... Since Ivie wasn't even charged with anything, he didn't have to do any of this.
Ivie brought a gun to school for a week and says he forgot. I'm a gun owner. Sorry, you don't just forget you have your weapon in your vehicle for an entire week. Even if it is true, I wonder if my son would have received the same consideration had he said "Yes, I have some marijuana in my pocket, but I forgot." And don't forget; my son's crime was a misdemeanor, Ivie's was a felony. In the eyes of the law, what Ivie did was worse.
We didn't whine about what happened. My son broke the law, he paid a price. My son played football and baseball too. He wasn't a "star" football player, but he was a good baseball player. He was a marginal, though passing, student. He had also never been in trouble with the law before this event, nor has he been in trouble with the law since.
Even though I'm a 100 percent disabled veteran living on a fixed income, I took him out of Lakeside and he's attending a private school on my dime (Evans Christian Academy). He's a born-again Christian, and things are going pretty good for him. I guess the judge was wrong, at least for the time being.
I keep reading and hearing people say "All we're teaching this kid is telling the truth doesn't matter. You should lie." But if you let him off with no punishment, which virtually happened anyway, you are telling him "Go ahead and break the law. Just be truthful about it, and everything will be fine."
Here's a suggestion.
Everyone shut up about it, accept that the kid got a "sweetheart deal," and sweat it out while he goes to (gasp) Crossroads for three or four weeks. I would say maybe he'd learn something from the whole experience, and it would make him a better person for it in the long run, but I suspect he's had so many people tell him what a raw deal he got that he probably actually believes that.
Of course, as I am constantly reminded by good people in this area, I'm not from around here (sorry, I was busy defending this country for 30 years while you were being "from around here"). So maybe I just don't get the "Good student, star football player, told the truth, whining parents" defense.
However, even if I did get it, it didn't work for my son. Maybe that's because he isn't from around here, either.
Danny L. Prichard
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