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Let that grandpa go

By Staff
Scot Beard
There are many offenses in the world that should be punished by jail time such as murder, armed robbery and rape.
Because these crimes are brutal and can leave victims and their families feeling insecure for years, the assailants deserve to lose several years of their freedom.
Some crimes, however, do not warrant imprisonment.
Take the case of Joseph Prudente, a grandfather who was recently sent to jail because of his yard.
The homeowners' association in Prudente's neighborhood felt he had allowed his lawn to get out of shape because it was dying in the hot Florida sun.
Prudente said he was struggling to pay his mortgage and decided his home was more important than the condition of his lawn.
The homeowners' association saw things differently and filed suit against Prudente. When Prudente failed to show up for his court date, the judge found him in contempt of court and sent him to jail for a few days.
While in the local slammer, Prudente's cellmates thought he was a drug dealer because he kept telling them he was in jail because of grass.
While Prudente served his time, some of his more compassionate neighbors chipped in to help replace the dying lawn with new sod to bring the yard to compliance with the homeowner's association guidelines.
Eventually, this story found its way to the local news and eventually to CNN.
It is a humorous story – during the CNN interview Prudente wore a "Grandpa Gone Wild" T-shirt – except for the fact the president of the homeowners' association, Bob Ryan, felt it was necessary for Prudente to choose between his home and his lawn.
I understand the purpose of homeowners' associations. They put guidelines in place to help neighborhoods stay beautiful so the homes can maintain a high resale value.
I also understand that Prudente's lawn was an eyesore and in violation of those guidelines.
The problem is Prudente, like many Americans, had been struggling to catch up on his mortgage payments so he would not lose his home.
I worked a Home Depot a few years ago, so I know how expensive it can be to repair or replace a lawn. It can be more expensive than a mortgage payment.
Besides, with the economy tanking and credit dried up, nobody can afford to purchase a new home so why not cut Prudente a little slack?
Yes, the rules are in place for a reason and Prudente was made aware of these rules when he purchased his home.
It is okay, however, to bend the rules from time to time in circumstances like this.
After all, Prudente was trying to pay for his house, not trying to murder somebody.