Let’s Revisit the Blair County Justice System in Honor of Dawn of Justice.

Long time followers of Foster Disbelief will be familiar with some of the ludicrous prison sentences judges in Blair county dole out to drug dealers.  If not, I’ll wait while you do the required research here and here.

You back?  That was quick.  You must be really intelligent to have a reading speed that high.  I’m quite impressed.

As you learned from your research, I have this strange idea that Blair county judges throw any idea of rehabilitation out the window when a drug dealer, even a non-violent offender, finds himself (or herself, dealing is an equal opportunity employer)in front of the bench while acting like big ol’ softies when deciding a less serious case, you know,  such as the sexual abuse of a child, unwanted sexual assault by an employer, or domestic violence.  I mean, I guess it could just be in my head.  *shrug*  Anyway, on to today’s story.

Remember this guy?

A man’s gun reportedly went off in his pocket in the middle of a church service on Saturday in Altoona, Penn., before he handed the weapon off to someone else who allegedly hid it in the pages of a program.

While unnamed in the linked article, the man in question is one Matthew Andrew Crawford.  Am I bringing up his case just so I can reveal the name to my countless (several, definitely more than a few) readers?  Of course not.  No, it seems that Mr. Crawford enjoys activities other than unsafely carrying a concealed weapon in a house of worship.  You know all those good guys with guns; busy, busy, busy!

 

Records in the Blair County Courthouse show that Crawford in 2015 and 2016 has had PFA orders filed against him by three different women.

His past includes additional PFAs dating back to 2007.

In September 2010, Crawford entered pleas to simple assault and disorderly conduct and received nine months’ probation for pulling a .40-caliber Glock handgun on an older stepbrother during an argument over his use of a family vehicle.

It was also reported that he was expelled last year from Mount Aloysius College for possessing two guns while on campus.

Are you keeping track? More illegal possession of firearms? Check! (Damn gun-free zones.  This is Merikkka, dammit!)  Collecting protection from abuse orders as if they were baseball cards?  Check!  (Baseball cards are like the cards in a collectible card game, except each card represents a real player in MLB, and they aren’t part of an addictive game.  I know, us old people are weird.  No, I can’t quite remember why we bought them*.)  Pleading down to an insanely low charge after drawing a deadly weapon on a relative over a meaningless disagreement?  Why of course that’s a check!

I bring this all up because our Mr. Crawford found himself in court recently, and it is important that you understand his previous record to understand why the judge handed down such a harsh sentence to this misunderstood good guy with a gun.  Got it?  On to the latest incident!

In the most recent incident, his girlfriend went to the home to pack in preparation of moving out.

Crawford arrived when she was there. He shut the bedroom door and would not allow her to leave.

Charging documents said he hit her 10 to 15 times with the plunger.

The documents stated he tackled her on the bed and was choking her.

He said he was going to kill her.

In her PFA, the girlfriend said Crawford physically abused her in the past and becomes so angry at the young children in the home that be begins to shake.

Wow.  I don’t want to sound morbid here, but my mother watches a hell of a lot of Investigation Discovery and this sounds like at least 10 different true crime stories I’ve seen there.  Of course, those stories all end when the guy finally and predictably kills his poor estranged wife/girlfriend.  Thankfully in this case, the justice system stepped in, took control, and dealt this guy a severe punishment that will hopefully serve to deter him from the use of violence in the future.  I almost feel sorry for him, knowing how harshly non-violent drug dealers are dealt with in Blair county.

Oh shit.

Wait, that’s my whole thing with the Blair county justice system.  How they, to steal a jailhouse phrase, “knock drug dealer’s dicks into the dirt” while turning a blind eye to crimes I feel are a bit more serious.  No, absolutely not, not here, not now.  It didn’t happen this time.  I’m sure of it.  Judge Kagarise (a county judge who ran for election by stressing his pro-life beliefs, which says more about my area than anything else I could say) had to have crushed this guy, right?  I mean, look at his record!  The PFA’s!  The threats!  The fact that he’s drawn a gun in anger before!  Come on, Blair county, even blind justice gets one right every now and then…….

Blair County Judge Wade A. Kagarise placed Matthew Andrew Crawford, 30, on probation for four years after he entered pleas to terroristic threats and simple assault stemming from a Feb. 6 confrontation with the girlfriend.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

The girlfriend appeared with other family members in court Thursday to ask the judge to order Crawford, as part of his probation, to follow whatever mental health treatment is recommended following an upcoming evaluation.

She said she fears not only for herself and her household but also for the safety of the public because of Crawford’s violent personality.

His mental health status is not good, she told the judge.

She said he doesn’t take his medication.

Sounds like some good recommendations.  I’d add five to ten up state on their, but I guess you can only ask for the possible.  Hmm, I wonder how the woman in question feels about the sentence of probation?  Maybe she asked the court to go easy on him….

She added that she was also “not thrilled” about the probationary sentence.

Well now, that is one serious understatement, ya think?  How could she be thrilled?  She probably gets Investigation Discovery as well.  She knows which path this story follows to the finish more times than not.

You know, I never do this, but this is a story that you may have a chance to influence.  You see, when Mr. Crawford hopped on down the bunny trail at the Cathedral last Easter eve, causing his gun to get excited and blow its load, he committed a crime.  (Yes, even though we can be sure that was far from the only load blown at a Catholic church in Blair county, if we go by the Grand Jury report.  But those were priests blowing those loads, and no one told the cops to ignore the one Mr. Crawford blew, so a punishment was due.  It was a weak one, but it was still punishment.

Kagarise in December placed Crawford on two years’ probation for the gun blast in the cathedral.

Why is this important?  Because, as I will be the first to tell you, based on personal experience, when you are on county probation, the county owns your ass.  In fact, even though Mr. Crawford was sentenced to only 4 years probation for beating his girlfriend with a plunger (out of love, I’m sure), he is currently in Blair county prison for violating his probation.

While Crawford received probation, he remains in the Blair County Prison because he was on probation for the church shooting incident when the most recent arrest occurred.

He told Kagarise he wanted a probation violation hearing on Thursday. Kagarise indicated he would have to wait awhile longer for that hearing.

“It’s time you got your act together, Mr. Crawford,” the judge said as he explained to Crawford that he could be sentenced to prison for violating terms of his probation.

When the probation hearing occurs, 3 things could happen.  (That’s assuming it’s his Gagnon 2 hearing, which is pretty safe since Gagnon 1’s have to be held 7 to 10 days after the arrest.)

  1.  The Judge decides he has done enough time for the violation and sets him free.
  2.  The Judge decides to sentence him to a jail term that cannot exceed his current probation sentence.  (So since he violated a probation sentence of 2 years, he could conceivably be sentenced to sit in jail until the day his probation was supposed to end.)
  3.   The Judge can take the nuclear option and Revoke and Re-sentence the offender.  In this instance, the Judge scraps the original sentence entirely and substitutes a different reasonable sentence.

In my opinion, the third option is the least likely one.  R&R’s are usually used against, you guessed it, non-violent drug offenders who fuck up on probation as a way to extend the probation.  For a personal example, my original sentence was 18 months of probation.  After being revoked and re-sentenced 4 times, I turned that 18 months into a total of 18 months in county jail, 13 months in state prison, to go with 4 and a half years on county probation followed by 11 months on state parole**.  Yeah, R&R’s can add up fast.  (For those curious, 2 of my R&R’s were caused by getting kicked out of 12 step based treatment facilities due to my atheism.  The other 2 were legit.  *shrugs*)

While I personally feel that 2 years is too light of a sentence for this man, after weighing his past charges, his violent history, the threats he made while assaulting someone he supposedly loved, and the fact that he fucking pulled a gun on someone in anger before, it is still two years.  I do not want to read the paper next month and learn of a murder committed by this jerk.  I do not understand why he wasn’t sent up state yesterday to be honest.  The quickest reason I can come up with is that Judge Kagarise doesn’t really think beating up your girlfriend is a crime, but I’m not going to make that accusation at this point, over one case.  I’m not sure if my voice will matter at all in this instance, but I will be reaching out to Judge Kagarise to let him know that I think Mr. Crawford is a danger to the community and needs to spend a bit more time on ice to pay for his crimes.  And hell, if you feel like chiming in, Judge Wade Kagarise can be reached at his law office, (814) 696-1108.  You can reach out to Blair county probation and parole from this page here, and from this one you can find links to many different departments at the Courthouse to annoy, er, respectfully question.

Maybe someone can explain to me why such serious crimes are met with a “meh” while a bag of heroin turns the judiciary into Judge Dredd.  Until then, remember the following:  Matthew Andrew Crawford got 4 years of probation for threatening to kill his girlfriend while keeping her against her will and beating her with an object.  I got 1 to 2 years in a maximum security state prison for scratching 100$ worth of lottery tickets off at work and then offering to pay for them.

Smells like justice to me.

*Actually, I remember exactly why I bought baseball cards.  Because I had invented a collectible card game to play using them.  Amazing what you can come up with when you have time, imagination, and ten sided dice.

** For those wondering, I finished walking off my state parole in 2007 or 2008.  Since then my only trouble with the law was a speeding ticket.

 

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