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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Appleton Is Tough on Crime: Heavy Sentence Handed Down

A story in tonight's Post-Crescent newspaper, "Menasha Teen to Serve 15 Years in Prison for Drive-by Shooting," illustrates how Appleton is tough on crime. An 18-year-old boy, Nhia Vang, fired three shots into a home, threatening the lives of its occupants (fortunately, nobody was hit). In sentencing today, Judge Dee Dyer sent a message by DOUBLING the sentence that the prosecution requested. He sentenced Vang to 15 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision. District Attorney Carrie Schneider had asked for 8-10 years in jail followed by extended supervision and probation.

In doubling the sentence, Judge Dyer said, "This is not Milwaukee. This is Appleton. This is a safe community and we will not tolerate that behavior. There is no room for leniency in these crimes."

With strong anti-crime judges like Judge Dyer, you can count on Appleton remaining a relatively safe community. But being safe on the average doesn't mean crime free. Three bullets were fired into a home in gang-related crime. Terrible.

I must admit to having mixed feelings about the story, for I know Nhia Vang and his family. Eight years ago he was a nice young man with a great future in front of him. Unfortunately, his family went through serious problems and he got caught up in a Hmong gang. He told the judge he wanted a second chance to straighten out his life, and the judge said that he could have that chance in 15 years. Makes sense to me, and I hope it sends a strong message to other potential criminals, but I am pained for Nhia and his family. I hope he can get the help and support he needs in the future to truly straighten out his life, for I've seen the potential in him to be somebody good.
I've become friends with him and he really does see his actions as reckless and juvenile. He feels terrible and is glad to be through with that way of life and looks forward to one of better decision making.
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