For 14 hours Thursday, Norman “Bo” Thompson holed himself in his mother’s Mexico home, refusing to yield to the dozens of police officers waiting outside. They had a fistful of warrants for Thompson, the subject of recent celebrity for his frame-by-frame capture last week by a Sun Journal photographer.

He had been inexplicably released on recognizance, despite a criminal history 39 pages long and a predilection for running from police. “He’ll be back,” everyone said, “this is a mistake.” But the judge and assistant district attorney seemed to prefer going by-the-book, rather than using judicial common sense.

We see where this got them. A half-day standoff that paralyzed Mexico and locked down two schools. A family home trashed by tear gas and a police search. The public expense of the standoff as well, for which not one, but two, elite tactical teams were pressed into service.

All for a career criminal who, by all rights, should have been behind bars the entire week. Thompson was finally held without bail after his arraignment Friday.

Too little, though, too late.

Most frustrating about this situation is the clear disconnect between people in the know – the police, his family – and those who adjudicate the case. There is always going to be friction between these sides, but this shouldn’t prevent mutual dialogue, listening and understanding.

Pleading a “lack of knowledge” about the case, as the prosecution did following Thompson’s release, is no excuse for disregarding the instincts and expertise of others with the knowledge. The public should lose faith in the judiciousness of the justice system, when easy decisions like Thompson are so badly bungled.

Yes, the justice system is imperfect. Yet there’s no excuse for a judge and prosecutor to be told where the cracks are, and what should be done to avoid them. Thompson’s recidivism was guaranteed by everyone who knew him.

Just about the only surprising thing about Thursday’s standoff is that the “runner” actually stayed put.

Then again, maybe police went overboard with the standoff. Two “tac-teams” and tear gas seems dramatic for a suspect of Thompson’s limited stature. If police put on a show to make an example, than shame on them. There was no need; Thompson would have proved the idiocy of his easy release eventually.

Plus, there’s nothing to gloat about with this case. The real victim in this saga is Thompson’s mother, whose home was badly ransacked in the search for her ne’er-do-well son, despite her pleas to lock him up.

Earlier, we said if Thompson offends again, the prosecutor and judge who released him should answer why.

We suggest they start with her.


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