Mike robs a burger place with a bb gun. He’s caught and is to serve 13 years in prison. Due to clerical error, they don’t arrest him until years later when he’s a good, family man with a wife and four children. He has a successful business of his own. What a story! And what a decision to have to make on both sides! Do you take a rehabilitated man and put him in jail where he can pick up bad habits, make bad friends or do you find some other way to serve his time. For example, he could get community service helping the state with work that needs to be done in carpentry. He’s a carpenter now. He’s a successful man now. He could be assigned to talk to ghetto kids about his mistake when he was a kid and robbed a burger place with a bb gun, and how he has changed his life earning his keep. There are so many productive things that can be done with him. It’s the clerk’s error not the man’s. This is a hard decision to make.
In my writing, I try to bring stories like Mike’s to my books and make those unusual decisions that people refuse to consider. Punishment does not have to be vindictive. In this incident, no one was hurt, and he did learn his lesson. Time has passed, and things have changed. A lot of times, writers choose to dramatize the story, and it usually ends in tragedy, rather than a happy ending with the man back at home, working, feeding his family and serving as a good, present, role model for his four children, rehabilitation being everything.
It was interesting to read that Mike said in jail that his life was wasting away. Quite a different man from the kid who robbed a store! The stories are out there. Through the story, I try to bring reality into the picture and different and unusual stories/ endings to the drama.