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Honor student thrown in jail and fined

  1. May 26, 2012 #1
    This story makes me angrier than anything I've read in quite a long time. Here are 3 links to stories about it:



    http://www.khou.com/news/local/People-across-the-country-offer-help-to-honor-student-jailed-for-truancy-154235505.html [Broken]

    Basically, a 17 year old honors student who works two jobs to support her siblings after their parents divorced. But, such a crazy schedule sometimes leaves her too exhausted to attend school. So what does the judge do? Throw her in jail for a night and fine her $100.

    Why would he do this? In the judges own words:

    The judge wanted to make an example of her, but a lot of people think that he should have been more lenient. I certainly think he should have recognized that this is a special case and thrown the case out.

    I really hope that publicity from this story ends up helping her with college admissions rather than hinder her. If she's even half as good as the stories make her out to be, college recruiters should be fighting over the chance to get her.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2012 #2
    I feel like we have insufficient details about her parents:
    Can parents really dump their children under 18 to fend for themselves? I find this more troubling than the girl's truancy case.
  4. May 26, 2012 #3
    That's why we have judges so they can judge on whether the accused deserves to have any punishment, because not everyone's case is the same. So here's what you're gonna do with the rest of them. Judge them, too. And use common sense.

    I agree, Jack21222. Rrgh.

    Beaten by rootX.

    Also troubling.
  5. May 26, 2012 #4


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    Unbelievable, miss some days in school and end up with a criminal record because of that? How has that ever helped anyone?
  6. May 26, 2012 #5
    I agree that, from what I read, this seems absurd ... and the judge is a twit.

    Anyway, since when do kids get thrown in jail and fined for missing school? Expelled or suspended from school -- but jail time ... fines? This makes no sense to me. I'm pretty sure that there were no such laws where I grew up.
  7. May 26, 2012 #6
  8. May 26, 2012 #7
    Apparently this is a judge who lacks judgement.
    Last edited: May 26, 2012
  9. May 26, 2012 #8
    I heard about this case the other day, and it's really tough to have a defined opinion on it, other than pity for her situation and disgust for her parents. The question as to whether or not it's the right legal decision is a different question, though.

    You can choose to uphold the law (I don't think laws are intended to be relativistic, but it's tough to say at which point a relativistic interpretation begins [i.e., murder for self defense is legal, but murder of a bad person is not]), but you risk public outage, or you choose not to uphold the law, in which case you risk setting a legal precedent that says minors don't have to attend school 100% of the time, as long as they're working, which creates the problem of keeping a registry of minors' workplaces, which then makes you think "Hey, wait a minute, I know some kids who graduated high school at 16, and they didn't have to be entered on some registry" at which point your head explodes because the world is a complex place that you can't possibly have enough energy to comprehend.

    I definitely believe, though, that, due to this getting media attention, she will be receiving some checks in the mail from sympathetic people.
  10. May 26, 2012 #9
    Yeah, I've known a few judges who, imho, would have been more appropriately placed as, say, KMart or WalMart greeters.
  11. May 26, 2012 #10


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    Some details of this case make no sense. The first story says that Tran's parents divorced, "out of the blue, leaving the kids to fend for themselves."

    Huh? Since when does divorce = kids fend for themselves?

    Why wasn't there a custody hearing. Why isn't at least one parent still in charge, if not both (edit: or a relative or a foster parent if the parents were unfit)? How can a 17-year old and her younger siblings not have any legal guardian? They're minors.

    Edit: I see now that the parents actually abandoned her. Seems like they're the ones who should be in jail.

    Furthermore, although the article establishes that after multiple absences from school, it becomes a matter of the courts to deal with, I don't agree with this law. It seems to me that after one or two absences, it would be far more productive for the principal to sit down with the parents/legal guardian, and try to discuss how to correct the child's behavior. I totally understand that one can have deadbeat parents who just don't care, but even so, I just don't see what taking it to criminal court accomplishes.

    I don't know what you do when there supposedly aren't any parents/guardians. (again: what???)
  12. May 26, 2012 #11
    That makes no sense. They put her in jail for missing school, even though she's doing great in school? Why does attendance matter if you're acing the curriculum?

    And how are the parents allowed to just leave them alone? Shouldn't they be the ones in jail?

    Judges have too much power. They do whatever they want and don't have to answer to anyone.
  13. May 26, 2012 #12


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    Okay so the younger sibling *does* live with relatives. If so, why doesn't the 17-year old as well? Why don't the relatives support her, instead of her supporting her sister and apparently her older brother in college (who should be supporting himself!)?

    It still doesn't quite make sense. The burden placed on her seems unnecessary.
  14. May 26, 2012 #13
    Yes, the story presented in the news articles is incomplete. That's why I also refrained from commenting on the judge decision.
  15. May 26, 2012 #14
    I don't know, it doesn't seem like any excluded information could justify that decision.
  16. May 26, 2012 #15
    I agree. Apparently she was put in jail and fined for missing school. Who would make such a law? Oh yeah, Texas legislators. The same people, or their ilk, who championed the idea of putting people in prison for decades for possessing a marijuana joint.
  17. May 26, 2012 #16
    If there was something not in the article about why she deserved to be punished, shouldn't the judge have stated those reasons, rather than saying what he said? It's up to the judges discretion to issue a punishment. How about a $1 fine, if he's insistent he must punish her?

    It seems like she has just fallen through the cracks in society, and instead of stepping in to help, like you'd expect a government to do, they just kicked her while she's down.
  18. May 26, 2012 #17
    It might be possible to defend the judge based on the complete information. This is not the first and last time, media tried to produce a bias-incomplete story.

    Personally, I don't want to see a minor doing two shifts and missing schools. If it is proven that she has no choice but to do work then US is facing far bigger problem which the OP articles didn't even touch on. She might not even get into any college if she is not stopped from doing too much work.

    There appears to be no evidence of her fallen through the cracks in society.
  19. May 26, 2012 #18
    She was left to fend for herself and sister by her parents.
  20. May 26, 2012 #19
    Are you trolling me? What do you call it when a 17 year old and her younger sister are abandoned by their parents and has to work two jobs in addition to go to school to support them?

    If that's not one hell of a crack, I don't know what is.
  21. May 26, 2012 #20
    See the cepheid's post # 12.
  22. May 26, 2012 #21
    That post has nothing to do with my post.
  23. May 26, 2012 #22
    No matter how anybody might want to spin this, the facts are that a high school student was fined and put in jail for missing school. Excuse me, but wtf. Who does that? Who puts kids in jail because they skipped school? Well, apparently Texas does. I can only say thank god that Rick Perry is out of the presidential race. What on earth were Texas legislators thinking when they passed this law? For that matter, were they even thinking? And then there's the judge. What was he thinking (if he was, in fact, thinking)?

    Only in America, eh?
  24. May 26, 2012 #23
    You're right on the money with that one. Just look at the Trayvon Martin case.
    Yeah, you're right. The media failed us again. How about some more thorough investigation? Why is she in that situation to begin with?
  25. May 26, 2012 #24
    This goes much deeper than it appears. In Texas either truants, or their parents may be fined. Many judges in Texas have been using a private company, AIM TRUANT SOLUTIONS to enforce GPS tracking on truants.


    Hello Mr Orwell.

    I do see a problem with using a for profit company to enforce a state law.
  26. May 26, 2012 #25


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    That's why media likes sob stories. It gets people all charged up, which makes for good entertainment. It helps that when people get all emotional, they fail to think critically.

    I react badly to such manipulation. When I loaded the CBS article and saw the preview image for the video, I was instantly put into the frame of mind to severely mistrust that the article is a fair representation of the facts.
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