Troubling Question

Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!

On Friday night we covered, among other stories, the arrest of Kenneth Hinson. Hinson is charged with raping two kidnapped teens in his dungeon. He was denied bond over the weekend and thus won't be in public pending his trial. (Obviously very good news!) After his trial on these new charges, if convicted, I would assume he will get a substantial sentence (perhaps even life).

Hinson is a prior sex offender: He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in about 1991, but was released after about 9 years. Why he was released from a South Carolina prison needs to be examined. I don't know why he was released. Mandatory state parole law? Did the prosecutor appear at the parole hearing and oppose the release and fail to convince the parole board? Mandatory good time?

Subsequent to his release from his criminal sentence, a prosecutor sought to have Hinson committed (a civil proceeding, not a criminal one). For reasons I don't yet know, the prosecutor failed to convince a judge that the standard had been met for a civil commitment under South Carolina law. I don't know if the prosecutor did a lousy job, the judge did a lousy job, the law is poorly drafted or if the standard of the statute was not met. All I know is that Hinson was not committed. We need more information. We need the facts.

We won't know why the judge ruled as he did unless and until we read the transcript from the proceeding in which civil commitment was sought. This is the best way to get the information. In other words, we should not "jump" on the judge (or anyone else) until we understand the ruling. It is easy to pick a target now, but wrong to simply pick one or pick sides because of the viciousness of the crimes. We need complete information before we start pointing fingers. And again, don't forget the questions I raised above: Why was he paroled? Did South Carolina law require it? Did someone drop the ball? Had he not been paroled, he would not even have gotten to the civil commitment proceeding.

Here is what I do know: I spoke to the judge on Friday. He was good to take my call. He told me that he did not remember the case (it had been many years since he heard the case and he has done many cases.) I am not surprised he did not recall it: Judges do handle huge dockets and many cases can begin to look alike. He said that the record (the transcript) would provide the basis for his decision (as well as the arguments and evidence presented by the prosecutor and the defense attorney.) Hence, the real answer lies in the court record as to why he made the decision he did. Perhaps after studying the record, we all might agree with his decision — or maybe not — but at least we will have facts from which to reach reasonable conclusions. It is better to be driven by facts than emotion.

The record might also explain why the prosecutor did not file reconsideration motions or appeals from the judge's decision not to commit. My impression from my phone call with the judge was that the judge did care about his work and did care to do it right. But again, I won't know for sure why he ruled as he did until I see the record. I need facts.

In talking about the case with me on the phone, the judge and I also discussed the huge amount of media interest. One thing he told me — as an aside during a long conversation — is that some media outlets had suggested that he was avoiding the press the day before because they could not reach him on his cell phone. Apparently on Thursday some in the media called and called and called, wanting to discuss his decision not to commit Hinson in the civil commitment and the judge did not answer his cell phone.

The judge was not dodging the media the day before, as some may have thought. He was very easy for me to reach and talk to on the following day, Friday. I reached him at home on Friday. Here is the truth: his 73-year-old wife is sick and he had been in the hospital with her the day before (Thursday) and was not permitted to have his cell phone on. (In many areas of hospitals you can't use your cell phones since there is a risk of interfering with medial equipment.) So, he was not ducking the media on Thursday. He was attending to his wife at the hospital and could not have his cell phone turned on.

Please note the poll posted to the right of blog today. Please vote and check poll results — the results may surprise you.

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Here is an article from the Houston Chronicle about Meals on Wheels needing help (money donations). You had previously been asked what people can do to help Houston. This would be one way people could help:
Mike McKenzie

E-mail No. 2

My wife and I want to thank you for the wonderful airing of the interview with Melissa Beaugh, Toby's wife and our daughter-in-law. Hopefully your coverage will bring forth some information that will help to solve our son's murder.
Continue doing the good that you do, because you just never know when one little bit of information will bring justice to where justice is needed.
Terry and Cindy Beaugh

E-mail No. 3

With all you get paid to spew your anti-men rhetoric the least you could do is try to be a bit easier on the eyes. Try getting your teeth the hair done for starters. They need serious work.
Joseph C. Petrillo
Bloomfield, NJ

ANSWER: My "anti-men rhetoric"? Huh? What anti-men rhetoric?

E-mail No. 4

Disappointed at your unprofessional response to Jody's e-mail regarding Beth Holloway Twitty, which I felt you compounded by your invitation to readers to shame her by renaming her e-mail address. While I expect this of some of your FOX news colleagues, I had thought you to be more professional.
San Diego, CA

E-mail No. 5

Dear Greta,
Your 'suggest a new name for Jody' appeal certainly struck a chord and definitely injected some needed humor into your 'blog' when needed! I say that because the very nature of some of the stories that you cover are filled with sadness. Perhaps, once in a while, you can publish a venomous e-mail and give a prize for the most humorous alternative name for the sender. As a prize I suggest an autographed photo of yourself, one for the winner and one for the fan who sent the e-mail!
Martin Dewhurst
West Sussex, UK

E-mail No. 6

Jody's screen name should be:
J. Kelly
San Diego, CA

E-mail No. 7

Hi Greta,
Frankly, I would not give Jody one more minute of your precious time. Jody is a loser and she doesn't deserve the courtesy of a reply from you, nor does Beth Twitty deserve Jody's cruel and insensitive remarks. On a personal level I still recall when my son at the age of two disappeared from my side at an indoor/outdoor flea market. The panic and fear that came over me was so overwhelming I found it hard to function. After a 20-minute search I was within seconds of crumbling to the ground when an announcement was made over the loud speaker that my son was found. That was 7 years ago. I cannot even begin to imagine how Natalee's family especially her mother continues to function not knowing the whereabouts of her daughter. May every missing child worldwide have a loving and caring mother like Natalee's and a support system like FOX News.
Love your show Greta and the network that makes you real,
Laurie Hartz
Elizabethtown, PA

E-mail No. 8

Hi Greta,
JodyJerk is a good name for Jody.
I have seen her posts on Internet blogs so I was not surprised that she wrote that e-mail to you. Without Beth to focus on Jody would have no life.
Love your show!

E-mail No. 9

Hi Greta,
Not that you haven't already received plenty of e-mail about Jody, but I think it's only fair to point out that her screen name is 'hunterofserenity' not 'finderofserenity'.
Lee Vincent
Novi, MI

Finally, here are some articles that caught my attention:

AP Interview: Actor works as ranch hand, plans comeback

Kid Rock, Calif. company reach tentative agreement on sex video

Mother of boy in Lafave case doesn't want trial

Humane society gets $7,100 for Pryor bowl

Ice Bowling competition winds up at Sheboygan

Send your thoughts and comments to:

Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET