Do you remember the reality-inspired film Catch Me If You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio? It seems a related Hollywood deal is in the making and the lead character is Colton Harris-Moore aka the “Barefoot Bandit”. Except Harris-Moore did not pretend to be a pilot; he just wanted to fly and impressively (or scarily) he did just that; teaching himself how to operate planes he travelled across land and sea to the Bahamas and San Juan Islands from several American cities. Oh … there is the slight issue of him stealing the planes before embarking on his travels…
Harris-Moore (20 years old) was sentenced to six-and-a half years in prison on Friday for federal charges he plead guilty to last year; he had already been sentenced to just over seven years for state charges he plead guilty to in December. The judge ruled that the sentences will be served concurrently. The federal charges include, “stealing an airplane, piloting it without a license, burglarizing a bank and possessing a firearm as a fugitive”, reports CNN. The 33 state charges comprise home break-ins and firearm, motor vehicle and identity theft.
The Barefoot Bandit, so named for committing some of his crimes without socks or shoes and even once tracing his bare feet with chalk at one of his crime scenes, gained notoriety as shown by the 50,000 fans following him on Facebook. His intriguing criminal tale, escaping from law enforcement for two years, has landed him a movie deal.
While Harris-Moore admitted that his arrogance, dream of flying and the rush for what he was doing drove him to commit the crimes, he stated he felt lucky to be alive. “What I did could be called daring, but it is no stretch of the imagination to say that I am lucky to be alive … absolutely lucky” (Associated Press). It appeared Friday that Harris-Moore was remorseful; he also stated that he is encouraging young people to focus on getting educated – something he is doing now.
The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, acknowledged the defendant’s rough upbringing and also expressed hope for his rehabilitation. “The most important day in your life is what you do when you are released. It will be up to you to create a new flight plan,” Judge Jones said while encouraging Harris-Moore to get the treatment he needs while incarcerated.
Some professionals who work in corrections are tasked to help inmates have at least a chance to turn their lives around. In addition to correctional officers, prisons employ vocational teachers, counselors, recreational programmers and other specialists. Community corrections positions, that supervise inmates after release, include probation officers, parole officers and other correctional treatment specialists. If you would like to help former criminals rehabilitate, consider completing a corrections degree, social work or human services degree, law enforcement degree, psychology degree or a criminal justice degree.