By Jud Milhon III, Summer Intern
Is it really fair that the structure of the criminal justice system is so easily capable of depriving countless citizens of pursuing the American dream? In the constantly evolving and unpredictable world in which we live, young Americans are forced to make spontaneous, in-the-moment decisions every day. However, should one, impulsive action be able to essentially ruin the rest of someone’s life?
This is exactly the case for Corporal Eric Pizer, who threw the most regrettable punch of his life outside of a bar in Boscobel, Wisconsin about ten years ago. Days after serving his country in Iraq and while still most likely in the mindset of a combat soldier, Pizer got into a beer-fueled argument with another man and impulsively struck him in the face. Unfortunately for both of the parties involved, Pizer ended up severely breaking Steven Frazier’s nose and was accordingly convicted of a felony about three months later. At the time of his conviction, Pizer was completely unaware of the restrictive consequences associated with having a felony on his record. However, once Pizer learned that he was not legally allowed to own a firearm, he was immediately deprived of achieving his life-long dream of becoming a law-enforcement officer.
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Once he realized his situation, Pizer did everything from acquiring an associate degree in criminal justice to practically begging the governor of Wisconsin for a pardon in order to have a chance at pursuing a law-enforcement career. Regardless of his efforts and even despite being a veteran, the ex-marine was unable to correct the fateful, split-second decision he made in his early twenties. Now, instead of using his talents, which are much better suited for keeping the citizens of Wisconsin safe, Pizer makes a living transporting pianos.
The story of Eric Pizer is a perfect example that supports the argument for making America’s criminal justice system more forgiving towards first-time offenders. Although he clearly made a mistake when he punched Frazier, this one incident should not prevent him from chasing his dream of becoming a police officer. Therefore, prosecutors and judges must become more merciful or some type of change must be made in the current legal system in order to prevent what happened to Pizer from happening to others. Until this occurs, it is up to defense attorneys to help first-time offenders combat the harshness found within the criminal justice system of today.