Ordinarily with armed robbers, I’m for locking them up and tossing the key. They’re a particularly dangerous lot. By the time they pull a weapon and utter a demand, they’ve already decided they’ll kill. Bad guys. Truly bad guys.
But there’s one armed robber I’d turn loose. That’s Richard Paul Boucher, 56, an armed robber serving prison time in Virginia when he slugged a guard and escaped 27 years ago. His wife, Debbie Lynn Boucher, 53, aided the escape and has been charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal. I’d turn her loose, too. Give them both a pardon.
In the years since, as the AJC’s Jim Tharpe reported Sunday in a fascinating tale of a husband-and-wife on the lam, the couple has lived on odd jobs and enterprise in the North Georgia mountains. To avoid detection, they never got a driver’s license and never took a job that required a Social Security number. They lived in a trailer park, did odd jobs for their neighbors and for others who needed day labor and they sold other people’s junk at flea markets.
Meanwhile, they parented a daughter who is now grown and married. Until now, when police were apparently tipped by an informant as to their real identity, they’ve never come to the attention of law enforcement.
Prison is for punishment, yes, but punishment that serves to rehabilitate. The Bouchers have served 27 years of self-imposed imprisonment, frightened by the sound of an acorn dropping on the roof of a mobile home in the dead of night. They’ve gone straight. They’re rehabilitated. Let them go to live the remainder of their lives in peace.
My band of right-wingers is reknown for its empathy. That’s not what we look for in appointing justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. There we want justices to adhere to the written word without regard to how stories are spun. At the trial court level, however, our judges — wise and compassionate all – are encouraged to tailor justice to the individual. Verdict for the Bouchers.