And Justice For All

Aidan McKnight

Recently, a mother of two was arrested for a most heinous crime: not cutting her grass. In Lenoir City, Tennessee, Karen Holloway was detained for this vile infraction. Holloway has a full time job, two dependent children, one vehicle, and a husband working his way through school. This ordeal began for Karen Holloway the previous summer, when she received a citation from the city for overgrown grass and shrubbery.  Just recently, however, she spent six hours in jail for not keeping up with her yardwork. Judge Terry Vann delivered a 5-day jail sentence for failing to comply with city ordinances.

Mrs. Holloway does not have the time to cut her grass or trim her shrubs. She is is too busy working, being a mother, and supporting her veteran husband. What is infuriating about this matter is that she is going to be spending time with murderers, child molesters, actual criminals, for failing to trim her hedges. This case brings up the broad issue of the over-reaching arm of government. In this instance, the local government felt the need to exercise its authority on a hard working mother of two, whose husband served overseas in the Middle East. This is is hardly the way to treat the family of America’s veterans. Furthering the ridiculous nature of this entire affair, Holloway claims to not have been read her rights, and denied the right to have an attorney present. But harassment from the city is no new behavior for Mrs. Halloway. The first time this happened to Mrs. Holloway, she was alone while her husband was serving in the military, deployed overseas.

On October 14th, Karen stood before Lenoir City court, and had her sentence reduced to six hours. This is still an outcry, but Judge Van even admitted she is not a criminal in the court proceedings.

He furthered the statement that they were not engaged in criminal proceedings, yet Holloway still had 6 hours of jail time to serve. On the same evening, Mrs. Holloway served her six hour sentence.

The honorable Judge Vann also declared that if Mrs. Holloway’s lawn was not in tip-top shape by the November court date she has, there will be more jail time. The punitive use of jail time to keep lawns tidy is absurd. This case is but one of many ridiculous overreaches and abuses of power, Linda Ruggles is another choice example. Mrs. Ruggles was sentenced to jail for failing to pay a $500 fine to fix her roof shingling in the worst part of the 2008 recession. She spent six days in jail.

What do these cases say about American society to outsiders? Are we that backwards as to put hardworking American mothers in with murderers and thieves? City ordinances aside, the punishment does not befit the crime. A fine would have been excessive, a nasty email or terse letter more appropriate. Mrs. Holloway now has an arrest record, which is a direct hindrance to gaining future employment. Did the city do the right thing? Absolutely not.