On Tuesday, a judge in Minneapolis ruled on a case involving a home day-care operator who has plead guilty to hanging a toddler and striking other motorists in her attempt to flee. Despite Nataliia Karia’s violent acts, however, the judge in her case handed down a light sentence. Karia will have to serve just 10 months’ probation after pleading guilty to attempted murder in February.
Home-Day Care Owner Attempts To Murder Toddler
According to court documents, on November 18, 2016 Nataliia Karia attempted to murder a 16-month-old boy in her care at the home day-care she operated.
Thankfully, the toddler survived the incident. Another parent who had just dropped off a child caught Karia as she fled. That was when the parent, Joseph Sabir, heard crying from the house.
Sabir ran into the house and heard the screaming from the basement. And that was where he found the small toddler.
Sabir says the Karia had hanged the child with a make-shift noose made of leggings tied to a pipe. Paramedics rushed the toddler to the hospital, where he recovered.
Sabir says that Karia said something to him as she frantically fled her home day-care. According to Sabir, Karia said she had “done something bad”.
After running from the house, Karia got into her minivan and recklessly drove away. As she attempted to escape the scene, Karia struck a car and hit its driver as he tried to exit the vehicle.
Then, Karia ran over a bicyclist placing him in serious condition. Finally, Karia hit another car with a pregnant woman on board before pulling over on a highway overpass.
Karia went to the edge of the overpass and appeared ready to jump. But a bystander tackled her and held her until police arrived and arrested Karia.
Minneapolis Judge Sentences Woman To 10 Months’ Probabation
In her court testimony, Karia describes how she had been the victim of violent domestic abuse at the hands of her husband since immigrating to the U.S. in 2006.
A mother of four children herself, Karia begged the judge to give her the chance to return to her kids and lead a normal life.
The prosecution, however, argued for a heavy sentence. Prosecutors argued that Karia should receive 13 years in prison for her crimes. And further, that court officers could not effectively supervise Karia outside of prison.
The toddler’s parents also gave heartfelt victims’ testimony that Karia should receive time behind bars.
Ultimately, however, Hennepin County District Judge Jay Quam agreed with Karia’s doctors that she did not present a risk of re-offending.
Saying there were no easy answers and that this case was extremely hard to adjudicate, Judge Quam handed down a 10-month probation. Karia also must undergo mental health treatment and home-monitoring.
She is also forbidden from seeing all her children except her adult son. If Karia violates these conditions, she faces a 183-month prison sentence.
The sentence is an astonishing outcome for the case. And it throws into sharp relief the disparity between how courts handle marijuana cases and how they handle other, arguably graver crimes.
Courts Should Give Marijuana Offenses The Same Leniency
But that isn’t to say that Karia’s sentence should have been greater. Or that incarceration is preferable to rehabilitation. If we care about reducing harm in communities, we need to keep people out of jail, not throw more in it.
In other words, judges should look for ways to be lenient and deliver sentences that help people recover, overcome their mistakes, and move forward with their lives.
And if its possible to find that sympathy in a case like Nataliia Karia’s, then it should be even easier to find it in cases involving non-violent, petty marijuana charges.
If they pursue any kind of sentence at all for misdemeanor marijuana charges—and arguably, they shouldn’t—courts should opt for treatment, education, community service.
But in Minnesota, marijuana offenses can quickly land people with felony-level charges. Possession or sale up to 42.5 grams is a misdemeanor that carries a $200 fine and no jail time.
But anything above 42.5 grams is a felony offense, carrying a $10,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.
Our nation’s drug laws are excessive, outdated and overly punitive. And they vastly, disproportionately affect individuals of color, taking family and support networks out of communities.