Fine or Jail?

Does this strike anyone else as being a little odd? On the way to work this morning, I was listening to the morning news and caught this little item about the increasing numbers of people arrested for “aggressive begging,” defined by the newscaster as out and out asking for money. Here’s the paradoxical part. The punishment for such behavior is either spending 30 days in jail or paying a $500 fine. I was thinking that the former might not necessarily be a bad thing; the mendicant would be warm, fed, sheltered, and free of the need to beg. The latter? Well, that just seems preposterous. How can a person pay a fine so high when he or she can’t even buy a hamburger from Wendy’s without assistance?

I could go on and on about this and related topics (trust me), but I won’t. However, if you get me started with a comment of your own, then….

Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

8 thoughts on “Fine or Jail?”

  1. A friend and I were discussing it at work this afternoon, and he said that they always opt for 30 days in jail. Can’t say that I blame them. It disturbs me SO MUCH that we have this kind of situation juxtaposed (hope I spelled that right) with tremendous wealth and over-the-top living. I don’t have any answers…just questions.

  2. What do you suppose is “aggressive begging”? One would think there would be a better solution than to throw someone in jail.
    I wish I knew. I always wonder when giving someone money whether it is for a meal or to buy drugs or alcohol. I guess you just have to follow your heart and hope you are aiding and not abetting!

  3. A co-worker told me today that aggressive begging involves actually stopping someone (perhaps even blocking their walkway) and asking for money. Considering the lives these people might be living, jail could be a good place. I don’t know. It’s a foreign concept to me. Remember the day we were shopping on Devine Street and saw a homeless person sitting right there in front of Hand Picked? You want to help, but how?

    About giving the money and wondering what happens, I think you’re right about just following your heart. Your intentions are good and pure, but you have no control over the other person’s choices.

  4. I’ve had them stop me, approach my car, and one day, as I was looking for something in my purse when I was leaving the store, a guy came up, opened my car door and asked me for money. He did not want me to go back in the store with him to buy food, he just wanted money. There happens to be a liquor store across the street from the store where we were. He didn’t recognize me but I recognized him as one of two brothers who live on the outskirts of town and both collect checks for alcohol addiction (I know their sister, who is the polar opposite). I am not without compassion, but they spend their checks, then come into town and panhandle. I would actually rather they ask me to buy them a pint than lie! They have been removed from different premises on numerous occasions but I don’t know the current status.
    My problem is the individuals who milk the rest of us, the gov’t, churches, charities, etc. and end up making it harder for the ones who are in need. The same can be said in other circumstances like abuse or illness. Did y’all see the story a while back that had the lady on who was pretending to have cancer? She was eventually “found out” b/c she was spending large amounts of donated money on frivolous things. That was the most ridiculous…
    Anyway, comment hog that I am, I will conclude by saying I volunteer and support local programs but I rarely hand out money. And I do not like it when they approach me at a stop sign or otherwise. Too much going on…
    I think if one opts for the fine, they stay in jail until the fine is paid, either monetarily or with time. Honestly Jayne, it may be the only way some “dry out”. Can’t tell you how many have called here needing bail….Oh, I am trying not to go overboard!!

    (Jayne, one of my teacher colleagues was found dead and they are not sure what happened to her. She was an invincible personality. Please keep her family in prayer.)

    In His Love.

  5. Comment hog, huh? I love it when people feel strongly enough about a subject to speak up and out, especially when the person knows more about the situation than I do…and you obviously do. So far, I haven’t had anyone approach me for $$, and I’m not sure how I’d react if it happened. Like you, I mistrust many “programs” and prefer to give what I want to whom I want.

    I think one of the things that’s been eating at me more lately is the growing number of people who next to nothing in their lives juxtaposed to the number of people who have so much! For instance, I’ll skim an article in the newspaper about the homeless in Columbia and see ads for $300 shoes, $400 purses, or $600 party dresses on the same page. I know this has always been the case (even Christ said something to the effect that the poor will always be with us), but I’m more aware now for some reason.

    I’m so sorry about your friend. Immediately I thought of my former colleague who was found dead a few months ago. We don’t know how or when our earth lives will end, but it’s so awfully awful when it’s violent or cruel.

  6. This is an interesting topic for me. I used to think that the poor were lazy and homeless by choice. After all there were pages and pages of help wanted classifieds. That was before I found it necessary to be homeless (by choice) to protect my children from a harmful situation.

    We went camping June through September while I looked for work in another city. Wow! What an education that was. Consider the job application… Address??? A campground or wilderness area. Phone Number??? A pay phone at the nearest ranger station.

    Then there was the grooming dilemma. You smell of campfire even when you are clean. Well dressed, maybe. Well pressed? Right! Especially after you cooked breakfast in the rain then had to break camp before the interview.

    Where do you leave your children during the job interview? Not in a car in the parking lot. Not at a campground 25 to 50 miles away. You can’t take them with you. What would you do?

    I am educated. I have never used alcohol or drugs. My choice was not the choice of a lazy degenerate human being devoid of self control. It was a necessary choice until I could get some legal protection in place for my daughters. I did not beg on the street. I did plead with the Lord and he answered my prayers with miracles. We walked with angels that summer and my daughters learned faith and became intimately acquainted with God. Being homeless was a small price to pay for the privilege.

    If you were to ask my daughters what their favorite childhood memory was, they would tell you it was the summer that we were homeless. I wouldn’t want to go through that experience again, but I wouldn’t trade it or the knowledge I gained from it. I learned a lot. That summer my eyes were opened.

    The scriptures tell us let not the beggar put up his petition in vain. Isaiah counseled us to remember the poor and foretold of dire consequences for our nation in our day because we paid (and charged) wages of oppression, because we have the spoil of the poor in our houses, because we have altered our laws to rob the widows and the fatherless, because we turned the poor away from just judgements for a bribe, and because we allow the beggar to put up his petition in vain.

    Isaiah is worth the read. Introspection is in order. The laws that were altered were civil not religious. Think about it.

  7. This is SO GOOD for lots of reasons. It demonstrates how quick we are to judge when in reality, we might be reading a situation entirely wrong. Not only that, but even if the person is homeless, it shouldn’t matter. Along with the scriptures you’ve mentioned, I can’t help but think of “When you’ve done it unto the lest of these….”

    If you haven’t devoted an entire post to this on your blog, you should.

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