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Negligent father should be comforted, not prosecuted

by Greg Belfrage

A Georgia father was booked on murder charges this week.

The reason?

He mistakenly left his 22-month-old son in the backseat of his SUV while he was working. The child was discovered seven hours later.

Read more: Father charged with murder after toddler left in car

The father, 33-year-old Justin Ross Harris, is facing charges of child cruelty and felony murder.

Unfortunately, we hear of cases every year in which parents forget their children in the car.

I believe justice is not well served by prosecuting the parents in these heartbreaking situations.

One reason these tragedies resonate so strongly with us is because many parents have experienced these moments of forgetfulness with our children.

I remember driving past our daycare a number of times with my daughter sitting or napping quietly in the backseat. In some cases, it wasn't until I arrived at work that I remembered she was still in the car.

Most parents can't imagine the pain of losing a child, especially through their ownnegligence. Believe me, there's no punishment the state could bring that would come remotely close to the torture of living with my own guilty conscience.

Imagine, if you can, living with that weight on your shoulders for the rest of your life.

Witnesses say Harris was so distraught at realizing what he had done to his son that he had to be restrained by police.

The public has a right to demand justice when crimes are committed.

However, this wasn't a crime. It was a horrible, horrible accident.

The community is not well served by charging Harris with felony murder. In fact, these criminal charges only add another layer of misery to this terrible tragedy.

I received an email from a listener who summed it up nicely.

"I think any parent knows accidents happen. Some of us are just luckier than others."

Greg Belfrage @belfrageshow is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com.

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Teaser Photo credit:Andrew Bardwell from Cleveland, Ohio, USA (Jail Cell) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons