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Tony Zizza

Bonnie Sweeten Needs Jail Time, Not Mental Health Treatment
By Tony Zizza
Jun 2, 2009 - 11:42:24 AM

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I think the old saying that suggested the only two things certain in life are death and taxes is about to be replaced by a more up to date version. It's a saying that surely explains why it seems no one is responsible any longer for the behavior they choose to engage in. Well, here goes. The only two things certain in life are that if you commit a crime, a lawyer will come forward and state you are not responsible because you are mentally ill. And the general public can breathe a lot easier since you will be getting the help that you need.

Well, I couldn't disagree more. I'm constantly trying to catch my breath.

An article published today by the Associated Press, ("Lawyer: Pa. abduction hoax suspect to get help"), ought to get our collective blood boiling. Bonnie Sweeten is the mother (Why are so many women behaving badly these days?) who made up a terrible abduction story. She also said it was "black men" who did it. They carjacked her and her 9-year-old daughter and stuffed them in the trunk of a car. Mind you, this alleged mother is 38 years old.

Turns out, this abduction was of course a hoax. Bonnie Sweeten and her daughter were anything but carjacked. No, this sorry excuse of a mother actually withdrew over $12,000 from several bank accounts and hit up Walt Disney World for a while. This doesn't sound like someone who is mentally ill. This sounds like an adult who put a child in danger and committed the crimes of identify theft and false reporting.

Bonnie Sweeten needs jail time, not mental health treatment.

Identity theft and false reporting are serious crimes that warrant serious punishment. Think of all the lives that have been damaged by identity theft and false reporting. Would the victims be served the justice they deserve if they found out the adult who victimized them so ruthlessly was getting away with it because all that was really happening was that they were getting the help they need? Disgraceful with a capital D. Unacceptable.

I simply don't understand what "getting the help they need" actually means. It must have something to do with psychiatry and its drugs and labels. In my view, to turn a criminal over to psychiatry is hardly the answer either. Whatever happened to the idea that if you do the crime, you do the time? We're now living in an age where if you agree to be drugged and labeled with a mental disorder, you have paid your debt to society for the behavior you engaged in. Not so fast.

Bonnie Sweeten ought to be locked up for as long as the NAACP sees fit just because she blamed it publicly on "black men." What a sick and thoughtless and criminal thing to do. We'll soon find out where those thousands and thousands of dollars came from. But no worries. I'm sure her lawyer Louis R. Busico will have her properly labeled and drugged for the next media event. In fact, it would not surprise me at all to see the psychiatric and pharmaceutical community team up and announce a supposedly new drug and bold mental health treatment for those who have no choice but to engage in identity theft and false reporting.

Let's not forget about all the dollars and heartache and time that went into searching for Bonnie Sweeten and her daughter for 30 long hours. I wonder what the financial and emotional bill for that would be? She should have to pay it all, and think about it long and hard while serving some jail time. We have got to get back to a philosophy of holding people accountable for the crimes they commit. Why is this so difficult? Is the alternative serving us any better? What message is really being sent?

So, we all wait in anticipation. How much of a victim of society will Bonnie Sweeten be made out to be? What psychiatric drug will she be taking to supposedly see things more clearly? Will her counseling be real talk therapy or will it merely be medication maintenance? Will she wind up on the talk show circuit and claim that we're all capable of engaging in identity theft and false reporting?

Truth is, what matters here is the children. They deserve a better behaved mother. The victims of identity theft and false reporting deserve real justice.

Just don't hold your breath, OK?

Tony Zizza is a free-lance writer who lives in Hermitage, TN. He writes frequently about popular culture. Email:

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