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Deborah Babbage - Blogger

I’ve always believed in second chances. But in our society, being convicted of a crime, no matter the severity, often means never being able to live a normal life again. Well, enough is enough, and it’s time for a change. We as a country need to take a long, hard look at how we rehabilitate and treat those who break the law. Because if I’m going to be allowed back at the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum, then it’s outrageous that we can’t give convicted felons a second chance.

I’m not suggesting we show all criminals clemency. But if I can still march through those museum doors without issue, even after spilling coffee I had snuck in under my jacket all over a sofa in Frank Lloyd Wright’s historic studio, then we need to consider giving felons with less serious charges another opportunity. I’m sick of watching people have their lives forever ruined due to some archaic conviction, when at the same time there is nothing stopping me from entering the same place where I recently picked up one of Mr. Wright’s original architectural models and tried to see if I could throw it just high enough that it would barely graze the beautiful vaulted ceilings in the children’s day room. We are are sending a dangerous message to our children, especially the ones who watched in horror as I tore up the intricate wood flooring with the baseball cleats I elected to wear to the birthplace of Prairie-style architecture, with this double standard.

I have no doubt that America would be better off if we more readily showed forgiveness to lesser criminals.


Do I appreciate the museum curator showing me leniency, even after I admitted to bashing in a chandelier with a fireplace poker, thinking it was Frank Lloyd Wright’s ghost? Absolutely. But until we can show that same leniency to felons whose actions were far less destructive than the fire I started in the studio’s enchanting library after falling asleep with a lit cigarette in my mouth, then far too many decent people are going to waste away in prison.

I’d also like to take a moment to formally apologize to the family of Frank Lloyd Wright. What I did cannot be undone, and for that I am sorry.

I have no doubt that America would be better off if we more readily showed forgiveness to lesser criminals. Being a convicted felon isn’t the same thing as being a terrible person, and you needn’t look further than the fact that I’m not banned from any building on the National Register of Historic Places. I look forward to someday living in a country where those who commit nonviolent drug offenses are treated the same as those who have thrown themselves through a window at the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum after remembering that their favorite TV show was about to start. Hopefully that day isn’t too far off.

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