Prosecutor Who Sent Parents to Jail for Serving Alcohol to Minors Defeated—Hooray for Good Sense!

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Jim Camblos, the Republican incumbent Commonwealth's Attorney for Albemarle County in Virginia, lost his bid for re-election on Tuesday. Camblos despicably prosecuted parents for serving beer and wine to minors at their son's 16th birthday party. Originally, both parents were sentenced to 8 years in jail for the offense. Their sentences were later reduced to 27 months and they are now serving time.

When the police broke up the party on an anonymous tip, they found that seven of the partygoers had no alcohol in their systems and the remaining nine were below the legal limit for intoxication. By the way, the parents had insured that none of the partygoers were driving that evening.

Now here's where I'm supposed to kowtow to the moral bullies and signal my agreement that underage drinking is some kind of horrible offense. Well, forget it. I'm not recommending excessive drinking (though I confess to doing it, shall we just say, on more than one occasion) for anybody. However, the United States is the only country that imposes alcohol prohibition on people until age 21. Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, among others, put that limit at age 16 and they don't seem to be falling apart as societies. I think it's high time to lower the U.S. drinking age. 

In any case, Camblos' attempt at moral grandstanding turned out to be bad politics. Good riddance to him.

Disclosure: My wife and I live in the county seat of Albemarle County, Charlottesville, Va. Unfortunately, Charlottesville residents do not vote in Albemarle County elections, so I can't claim any credit for Camblos' ouster.  

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  1. That is the only way this kind of crap is going to stop. Loosing their jobs is the only thing these assholes understand. My only question is was this the main reason he was defeated or was there other issues in the race? I sure hope it was for this and nothing else.

  2. John: It wasn’t the only issue, but it did have an effect at the margins in County which often votes Republican.

  3. Did the abusive fees for speeders guy win in VA? Was he up for re-election?

  4. While I agree that these parents shouldn’t be serving jail time, and I think the 21 drinking age is stupid, I do think that there’s one issue to these types of cases that’s being overlooked: whether or not the other parents consented to their children drinking. According to the prosecutor, “they [the parents] misled parents who called to ask about alcohol.” Again, while I don’t think this merits jail time, I think there’s a big difference between serving your kids alcohol and serving other kids. I can make the decision when to serve my daughter beer, but I would never make that decision on behalf of other parents and other parents shouldn’t make that decision on behalf of myself.

  5. By the way, the parents had insured that none of the partygoers were driving that evening.

    As I recall, the parents didn’t bother to check with the parents of the kids they were serving alcohol to. That is not a minor distinction when you consider that parents are legally responsible for their children’s antics until the tykes turn 18. It ain’t 8 years worth, but it’s not a wink and a nod either. Especially since they flat out lied to other kids parents.

    For the record, I agree with

  6. Ooops, for the record I agree that the drinking age at 21 is patently absurd. In fact, I think the age of majority should be 14.

  7. I was just last evening motherfucking having a chat with a member of the school board over a recent newspaper article which said the local schools are considering the implentation of breathalyzer tests for the students at extra-curricular events.

    This stuff seems to me so self-evidently wrong it’s a struggle to even articulate a response.

  8. Now here’s where I’m supposed to kowtow to the moral bullies and signal my agreement that underage drinking is some kind of horrible offense. Well, forget it.

    Good for you! Here’s hoping the winds are changing. Perhaps America is tired of bogymen and wants to embrace sanity. Now someone needs to show the same balls for meth.

  9. P Brooks, I was at my kids elementary school last night and every fargin’ window was plastered with these signed pledges that these kids promise never to do drugs (or drink alcohol or smoke too–I was retching so hard I can’t remember for sure).

    Thank GOD my kids are off track during Red Ribbon Week. For those who don’t know, we have year round school and my kids are on a track that is out of school the month that Red Ribbon Week occurs.

  10. ps- her bottom line explanation:

    “We’re doing it for the lawyers.

  11. Everything I need to know about this Camblos guy comes from a quick google news search, to a letter to the editor that references a picture of him with a coffee mug, on which is emblazoned “Reduce Defense Spending : Plead Guilty”.

    Good riddance.

  12. Club & Wine: Would they have to ask permission of the other kids’ parents, if the drinking age was 16 or 14 (as one of you suggests)?

  13. Now someone needs to show the same balls for meth.

    Forget it, Warren, I’m all for keeping the legal age for meth at 21!!

    Ha-ha.

  14. Ron: Good question, but unfortunately, within the situation as it stands, the other parents would most likely have the expectation of being notified of such behavior. Of course, I’ve seen enough situations to believe those parents probably DID know.

  15. I let my adolescent children drink a little beer and wine with meals just so they won’t do as I did and wander off to college with absolutely no understanding of the effects of alcohol or my personal limits. However, I would have a big problem if another adult served alcohol to one of my minor children, especially if they told me they wouldn’t.

    Even so, 8 years is absolutely outrageous. Even if the act did rise to the level of a criminal offenses, a fine and night in the poke would have deterred any repeats.

    I wonder if we couldn’t cool down the ultra-sentance frenzy by making those who set sentences such as DA’s and judges to adhere to an incarceration budget. Now days, most local officials can pile on any sentence they want and let the State government pay for it. If the local officials had to adhere to a budget, they might show more common sense in allocating prison time. A DA who couldn’t lock up a rapist because he blew his budget on incarcerating idiot parents would last long politically.

  16. Rhetorical question: Would you give your child a shotgun without teaching her how to use it? Or a Ferrari?

  17. P Books,

    Would you give your child a shotgun without teaching her how to use it? Or a Ferrari?

    Yes. but I’m from Texas, Giving kids guns and vehicles is tradition.

  18. Ron: I was wondering that as I was typing my comment. I suppose for me it’s an issue of notice. If the drinking age is 16, I’m on notice that drinking might be going on and I can act accordingly. As long as it’s illegal, I would assume it wouldn’t be going on (particularly if I asked the parent point-blank). All I’m asking for is a chance to prepare my child for the responsibilities involved in drinking, and like it or not the legal drinking age gives you a general idea of when they need to be prepared. Of course there are also the potential legal ramifications for both parent and child where illegal activities are going on, regardless of whether you personally agree with the law.

  19. The parents were irresponsible. The law is a ass. The prosecutor is an asshole.

  20. Prosecutor Who Sent Parents to Jail for Serving Alcohol to Minors Defeated–Hooray for Good Sense!

    One asshat prosecutor down, 16,842 to go. Well, it’s a start.

    Ok all of you, did you drink underage without your parent’s consent? Even once? If you did there was an adult breaking the law, so you could do that. Should he or she, have been sent to prison? I invoke the no fibbing clause in the libertarian manifesto.

  21. Would they have to ask permission of the other kids’ parents, if the drinking age was 16 or 14 (as one of you suggests)?

    No, depending. If all else is equal except the drinking age is 16, then I think you have an obligation to check with the parents of the Mormon teen whose church preaches abstention.

    If 14 or 16 means true legal adulthood, then no, the parents are done and nobody needs ask anyone but the kid in question.

    The key here is that context is everything and in our culture it is big time illegal for underage kids to drink. In many states and many circumstances parents can and are held responsible for actions of juveniles. For that reason alone, an obligation to ask exists.

  22. Shannon Love, I used to work for an old guy from Texas. He got his first shotgun for his fourth birthday. A .410.

  23. Shannon Love

    I wonder if we couldn’t cool down the ultra-sentance frenzy by making those who set sentences such as DA’s and judges to adhere to an incarceration budget.

    Now that’s an idea! Not that I think government is great at managing to budget, but it would almost incorporate a supply-demand component to incarceration.

    Combined with some kind of ‘community days behind bars’ you might even have a more effective measure of long term crime trends. Base them on how many collective days a community spends behind bars, rather than a misleading crime rate based on the passage of new laws that criminalize non-criminal acts. Or not.

  24. The Wine Commonsewer,

    I used to work for an old guy from Texas. He got his first shotgun for his fourth birthday. A .410.

    Its quite common in rural areas.

    I started shooting at five and inherited my fathers childhood .22 at 8 or 9. I slept with it in my closet until I went to college.

    Of course, all this familiarity with firearms leads to a fantastically high murder rate in rural areas.

    Oh wait, not in this reality.

  25. Even if the act did rise to the level of a criminal offenses, a fine and night in the poke would have deterred any repeats.

    Actually, a fine night of poking is generally the result of teenaged alcohol intoxication.

    Oh, wait, did I mix up my prepositions?

  26. also worth noting…specifics aside, if the legal drinking age was 14 or 15 they would not need the parents to provide the alcohol.

  27. What, no one going to call Ron to the carpet for this:

    However, the United States is the only country that imposes alcohol prohibition on people until age 21. Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, among others, put that limit at age 16 and they don’t seem to be falling apart as societies. I think it’s high time to lower the U.S. drinking age.

    Germany, France, and Italy do a lot of things I’m sure Ron finds offensive or morally imperssible. But hey, their societies aren’t exactly falling apart, so it’s high time we adopt those policies too.

    Sorry Ron, but I expect better from you.

  28. the United States is the only country that imposes alcohol prohibition on people until age 21

    Unfortunately, the United States is also the only country that has a culture of teenage driving. In those other countries you mention, the driving age is higher than here (in Germany it’s 18) and also there’s no stigma attached to the alternatives as there is in the US.

  29. Rhetorical question: Would you give your child a shotgun without teaching her how to use it? Or a Ferrari?

    Yes, but for different reasons with each child.

    My eldest would check the internet and library, read everything available on the use and maintenance of either car or firearm, find someone to help her learn the skill part, and end up a better shot/driver than I am.

    My youngest (at that age) wouldn’t listen to a word I’d say. Therefore I’d be much better off hiring another instructor for her.

  30. Mr. Bailey, don’t make the middle-aged, nanny-state mothers MADD. You won’t like them when they’re MADD.

  31. You know, the saddest part about this is exactly how the 21 year drinking age is enforced.

    It should be unconstitutional to enforce a federal drinking age when the purchase, consumption and intoxicated state remain entirely inside state lines.

    Except that the federal government withholds federal transportation funding from states that do not set their state drinking age to 21. Since states want their citizens’ money back that’s been pre-emptively stolen by the IRS, complying is a no-brainer. (States can’t print their own money to make up the difference.)

    How absurd is that scheme when you compare it to the Founders’ vision of federalism?

  32. “Ok all of you, did you drink underage without your parent’s consent? Even once? If you did there was an adult breaking the law, so you could do that. Should he or she, have been sent to prison? I invoke the no fibbing clause in the libertarian manifesto.”

    Whoa, wait a minute. Are you sure you want to do that? The no fibbing clause can only be invoked once every 30 days. Rules are rules. You might want to save that NFC for some other discussion.

  33. Ron=

    ensured

  34. I voted for Camblos… oops. There was a 3 vote difference between the 2 of them in my town district.

  35. It can be perfectly legal to serve alcohol to your own minor child, or to order a drink for him or her at a licensed establishment, depending on what state you are in.

    When Wisconsin finally buckled under to the Fed’s 21 diktat, the legislature had to rewrite the “parent or guardian” clause in the state alcohol code to include the circumstance of a married person of 21 years or more with a spouse who was under that threshhold.

    A few years ago, some kids in the Milwaukee suburbs faked out the cops by holding a “beer bash” with a keg of non-alcoholic beer. They must have been Freaks and geeks

  36. I wish the legal system had to comply with formal rules of reasoning. But then again, these fuckhead judges would have to, you know, think. ( I mean can you just fucking imagine all the “deer in the headlight” looks you’d get if you said, “your honor, you affirmed the consequent.”?) Likewise with the state. The entire system would collapse. anyway…..

    If I give my kid (or any kid) some nyquil, no problemo. If I take my kid (or anyone’s kid) to communion for the symbolic cannibalism that is communion, that’s OK. But if I give my kid a budweiser ([/sarcasm] Which should be illegal because anyone that has ever been to Germany and drank thier beer knows that Budweiser is only, in the technical sense, beer which is probably only slighty better than urine [/sarcasm]) and you go to prison.’

    You see, I don’t give a fuck if the legislature did pass “laws.” Giving kids small amounts of alcohol is either prison worthy or not. Semantic shuffles like it’s medicine, or it’s protected religious expression, or it’s not OK because a bunch of lobbied cum swallowers called legislators deemed amongst their few selves that the penalty should be serious prison time.

    Armed agents enforced Plessy, enforced Kormatsu, enforced Dredd Scott (by a little civil war). I have the moral and epistemic superiority to ignore such ethical and intellectual midgetry.

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