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In which I rant about the Texas penal system. Again.

My diatribe a couple of years ago about the treatment Aron Pálmi Ágústsson got from the Texas authorities is easily the most controversial post I’ve written to date. For those who have just joined us, Aron Pálmi is a 22-year old man who moved to Texas with his mother as a child. When he was 11 or 12 he was caught in a sexual act with a younger boy, who was seven. Long story short, at the age of 13 Aron Pálmi was sentenced to ten years in prison by the State of Texas, part of which had to be served in a state penitentiary. No amount of efforts by the Icelandic authorities to have him brought home to Iceland to serve his sentence were successful.

In this part of the world, a child who is found guilty of sexually harassing or abusing another child needs help, not ten years in prison. Why anyone would consider that a sensible solution is absolutely beyond my realm of understanding. Not only do you virtually wipe out that child’s chances of maturing properly, you also set them up for abuse within the prison, which means they will probably come out far, far more damaged than they were when they went in. In other words, from a purely practical standpoint you’ll have a much bigger problem on your hands than you previously had.

As of last week, Aron Pálmi is a free man, having paid his ten years’ worth of flesh, as it were, to Texas. Unsurprisingly, the first thing he did after being released – apart from going to visit his mother – was to get the hell out of the United States. He’s back in Iceland now and plans to make a life for himself here. In an interview on Kastljós two nights ago he spoke about his offense, his conviction, his time in prison [it’s in English].

Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe everything I’m told and I’m aware that Aron Pálmi may be minimizing what actually happened with the younger kid – I honestly don’t know. To me, that’s not the point. The most significant thing to come out of that interview in my mind was what I’ve suspected all along – before committing the offense, Aron Pálmi himself was sexually abused, for two years, by a police officer who lived nearby. And because the abuser was a police officer, it was all the more confusing for the young child, who kept the abuse hidden. The sexual act with the younger child was a pure reenactment – Aron Pálmi was “showing” the other boy what the police officer had “shown” him.

The heartlessness and cruelty of a system that does not recognize that a child perpetrator is invariably also a victim makes my blood boil. I don’t understand it. I can’t get my mind around it. It’s so heartless that it scares the hell out of me. I have no doubts that Aron Pálmi has a shitload of stuff to work out before he can lead any semblance of a normal life. I hope he manages to pull through.

After a gorgeous start to the day – I went for a run along the seashore this morning in a warm[ish] haze – it clouded over and started to rain. That’s the outlook for the rest of the week, more or less. Right now 9°C [50F] and the sun came up at 5.57 am, and set at 8.59 pm.

INCIDENTALLY the search for the two German tourists was called off this weekend, after the two men were presumed dead. It was the most extensive rescue operation in years. Hundreds of search and rescue workers combed the glacier in the area where the two were believed to have traveled, under horribly difficult conditions – apparently the glacier was very slippery and this is the time of year when bottomless crevices can suddenly open up practically beneath your feet. Yesterday evening it was reported that the search had been resumed in a slightly different location, since new evidence has been discovered.