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A Father is Going to Jail

By Paul Walfield
June 16, 2003


It may not seem like a long time, after all, it will be for “just” three days.

Be that as it may, Ronald Dixon is being taken away from his children, his home and his employment to be locked up because he acted reasonably, saving his children from a hardened criminal who had broken into his home.

I wrote a story about Mr. Dixon’s state of affairs about six months ago in an article entitled, “What Any Father Would Do.” The article was about Ronald Dixon who was awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of an intruder in his house. Looking out from his bedroom doorway Dixon saw a man enter his two year old son’s bedroom. There was no time to call the police and wait for help. He needed to act, and he did.

Dixon had legally purchased a handgun in Florida and was in the process of having it registered in New York where he lived. He took the gun and confronted the burglar. When the felon lunged at him Ronald, Dixon shot the man twice, wounding him. The burglar was arrested and taken away by the police, and Ronald Dixon’s family was safe. Then, Ronald Dixon was arrested.

His gun was not registered and Mr. Dixon needed to be punished for possessing an illegal handgun. It didn’t matter that his family was saved by that gun, or that anyone, anywhere would have done the same to protect their children. You see, the District Attorney needed to set an example. But, just what example was actually set by sending a father, a hard worker, a good man to jail? The same jail, Rikers Island that the man who broke into his house is also residing in, and who has a fourteen-page rap sheet and had been arrested nineteen times by the police. How many times do you think he was let go without any jail time for actual crimes?

Crime is high in Brooklyn, New York where Ronald Dixon lives. Gangs use illegal weapons to murder, rob and terrorize neighborhoods. They are bad people who should be put in jail, and no one, not anyone reasonable anyway, would compare their actions with the actions of a father trying to protect his children from them. Moral equivalency under these circumstances is not just ridiculous, it is absurd. Yet, that is what the DA in New York is saying. The people who defend against the animals who prey on human victims are no better than those criminals and need to spend time in jail.

Why is it difficult to separate out a good man from the vile criminals that prey on the good? Why must a man who has held down three jobs so that his family could have a home and comfort be taken away because another man in New York is incapable of understanding the difference in actions between a criminal and a good man?

The other night on Fox News, Dixon was being interviewed and when asked about his three day jail sentence he said, “I can live with it.” He went further and explained that it was because he was threatened with a far worse sentence if he didn’t accept the plea bargain. The DA in New York threatened a good man with a long jail term and settled on three days and that was a “good deal.”

It was further pointed out that if Mr. Dixon had been in Texas when the incident occurred, he would probably have been awarded a “man of the year,” trophy. So why is he instead going to jail? Is it that all reason and common sense go out the window when you are east of the Mississippi? That really isn’t likely. Is there anyone who understands that the District Attorney has discretion in these matters and still agrees with him? Is there anyone who doesn’t understand that sending a good man to jail for acting reasonably, protecting his family from the bad guys, is a very bad example to set?

Even the most ardent liberals have to believe that when confronted with evil and the imminent injury to one’s child, a father must be allowed to use any and all reasonable means to protect his family. Yet, for one appalling district attorney in New York, seeing motive, seeing decency and seeing someone act with bravery and responsibility is so foreign a concept that it is indistinguishable from the acts of a criminal gang member.

The DA has discretion. He could have simply not chosen to prosecute. The DA could have determined that by applying for the registration and hiring a firm to help with the paperwork, Mr. Dixon had substantially complied with the law. The DA had a lot of choices; sadly, he chose jail time for Mr. Dixon.

As a society, we should be awarding our heroes for their brave deeds. We should be letting the children of Ronald Dixon - the children of all Americans - know that protecting children, protecting our homes is a noble and necessary undertaking. That should be the example we set.

Do parents have to now take into account the possibility of being ripped from their families and sent to jail because they protected their children from possibly horrible consequences, even if they acted reasonably? Do we now have to redefine what “reasonable” is depending upon how jaded the district attorney is in our town?

The example set by the Brooklyn DA is a horrendous one. While we all know that vigilantism and people making up the rules as they go along is not, as a tenet, a good thing. However, in some situations we all need to look at the totality of the circumstances before we make a judgment.

There is an old saying about someone who plans on doing what is right, and willingly accepts being judged by twelve, rather than being carried to the grave by six. That may be a bit glib, but when actually acting reasonably, doing what anyone who loved their children would have done under the same circumstances, lands you in jail, it is time to reevaluate certain aspects of our system of justice.

Paul Walfield is a freelance writer and a California attorney. Paul can be contacted at paul.walfield@cox.net ©2003 Paul Walfield All Rights Reserved

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