77 year old Carl Reimann gets out of prison. He has served his sentence for the 1972 Yorkville murders of 5 people at a restaurant, including one who was 16.
Mr. Reimann moves into a quaint little neighborhood in La Grange, Illinois courtesy of a family who took him in as part of their church’s outreach program.
The home is across the street from a school.
Mr. Reimann isn’t a registrant, however, he is banned from being on school property because one of his victims was a minor. Other than that, where he is living shouldn’t be an issue.
Well, witch-hunt hysteria has reared it’s ugly head and apparently taken hold in La Grange, only this time oddly enough, the focus isn’t a sex offender. The focus is Mr. Reimann, who’s offense was murder.
The school district in it’s infinite wisdom sent out a hysteria-alert to the community advising them that the police are aware and providing increased patrols at the school. There’s not much more they can do, Mr. Reimann hasn’t broken any laws.
According to some parents whose children attend the neighborhood school, “we’re scared, very scared”. Some parents don’t even want to walk by the home Mr. Reinmann is living in. “It’s just very scary” says one mother.
When asked what they’re afraid of, it’s the same old line as when asked about sex offenders “you never know if they’re going to do something or not”.
Parents question why sex offenders have rules about living near a school but a mass murderer doesn’t. One parent went so far as to say that “there should be a law that will prevent anyone with a record like that from living near schools.” (Of course we all know that there’s no correlation between the distance registrants live from schools and offenses committed by registrants.)
There are a few folks in town that admit Mr. Reimann should get a second chance since he’s served his time. Ah, the level-headed town’s folks, I admire them for speaking up!
When it comes to small town America, we seem split on the idea of giving people second chances. For some giving second chances is the right thing to do, good people sometimes do bad things, they pay for their mistakes and then they get another chance in society.
For some it’s case-closed, I don’t want them in my neighborhood, not near my children’s school, not in the grocery store where I shop. You can let them out of prison, but they can’t live in my neighborhood. Don’t want anyone with a record “like that” living around here.
So apparently, it’s not just sex offenders that some don’t want in their neighborhoods, they don’t want murderers either. I’m certain, given a choice, they would also exclude drunks, drug addicts, spousal abusers, thieves, etc. from their idealistic communities. To these folks I say, come down from your ivory tower! The world is made up of all kinds of people, good, bad and otherwise. While you may not like everyone in your neighborhood, you have no right to stir the neighborhood up into a scary frenzy because of what you “think” someone might do.
Mr. Reimann has a right to live where he’s living, in the eyes of the law he’s paid for what he did. You can either be a good neighbor despite what you may think of his prior actions or you can be a lousy neighbor and avoid Mr. Reimann and those who have generously provided him with shelter.
As much as we’d all like to, we can’t pick and choose who our neighbors are, but we can choose what kind of a neighbor we are going to be.