3/17/2015 – Crime and Punishment
I learn so much from attending meetings of the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, an association of writers and fans of mystery fiction. This month’s meeting was no exception. Guest speaker was playwright Betty May. As a volunteer with I-WISH, a group of women prisoners at the Maryland Correctional Institution for women, she encouraged them to write about their lives, and then compiled their essays, poems, memoirs, and prayers into a chronological format which became a play called Faces.
Too young, too stupid, too ignorant, these women say and so they made bad choices and bad friends. Now they’re serving life sentences in a maximum security prison. They describe unspeakable things that happened to many of them throughout their lives; they relate bad choices they made trying to be accepted by peers. They talk about their sense of helplessness in intolerable situations and the disastrous consequence of their choices and actions: life in prison. Finally, they offer advice, wisdom, encouragement, and hope.
May also talked about the despicable men and women who troll playgrounds, parks, malls, the Internet, and school campuses, seeking vulnerable children for slave trafficking. These thugs worm their way into the child’s confidence by providing the listening ear and assurances of understanding and love that may be missing in the child’s life at home. Once in the predator’s clutches, a child is forced to turn 20 to 45 or more tricks a day, earning $100,000, $200,000 or more a year for the predator.
While I’m writing about crime and predators, fascinating subjects for mystery fans, I’ve come across an interesting and helpful site called www.romancescams.org. This site is rich in information, education and resources for victims of contemptible scammers, often working together in boiler room operations, who troll online dating sites. Using promises of acceptance and love and posting fake photos, they rope in thousaands of vulnerable people a year and strip them of their money and possessions. The site offers many examples of how these criminals work along with counseling of victims and sets of guidelines on how to identify a scammer and what to do if victimized.
All this misery and manure makes a rich mixture for mystery writers.