Where Using the Law Requires a Human Perspective
It all started with stumbling upon this little url on Twitter http://ow.ly/M1Tv. If you click on it, you will see the story of an elderly rancher, Dan de Vaul, who would not let building law drive out the homeless old folks he had let stay on his sprawling 72 acres ranch in San Luis Oospiro, CA.
The homeless were engaged in kicking addiction problems and found refuge in make shift barns over Dan’s property. For some he is a much needed option for such people, for others, a dangerous threat to health ( the health of the people who otherwise were on the street with their unchecked addictions, we assume)
Frequently a target for his unconventional activities which happened to be close to respectable businesses, Dan was convicted and placed on probabtion, the terms of the probabtion was that he should no longer have those buildings and people on his own land and he had no licence to run a rehab center.
So , the inventive justice procedures which had already used tax payers money – not to help the homeless but prosecute vigorously those who were, follows through with another set of court actions , leading to the firm sentence of 90 days in jail for Dan, who had refused to comply with the previous terms of his probation. On account of the local judge, offers to help get the buildings compliant with regulations were turned down by Dan. Unfortunately, from the other side of the world, there is no mean to verify those allegations.
This story, brought to the twitter community attention by no less than the prolific and kind twitterer Ray Beckerman, has another incredibly sad twist.
Not only is a man haunted for helping others without, apparently, harming anyone, , jailed for 3 months, at the county’s expense, but it appears that the whole procedure has costed more than $33, 000, not to mention the cost to the enforcing agency and the cost of keeping Dan behind bars.
A simple question : what would an intelligent person do with a minimum of $ 33K to resolve such a problem? Send the helper in jail or provide enough basic materials, local builders and community awareness to fix these “out of norms” buildings for the homeless folks ? Or perhaps invest , upgrade or convert within the same time frame county owned accommodation this time with or without Dan’s help or property ?
Whether Dan has a complete disregard for the law or a fearless approach to putting his principles into action, his contempt of court highlights some undeniable urgency we need to tackle on a local level, wherever we are. Homelessness is growing faster than ever before in our “devolopped” societies, along with social rejection, despair which addictions can not even mask anylonger.
On the eve of “festivities” my aspiration is that we can make those individual stories have positive conclusions when ever we encounter them at a local level, and such stories , unfortunately are repeated in every neighborhood, in every country, on every continent.
If you leave in the CA county of San Luis Oospiro and or have heard more about this story, please drop a comment, surely good intention do not need to land one in jail nor deny resources to those who are already outlawed by society?
Tell us what you think !