At first glance, the headline smacks of ridiculousness: A young man thrown in jail for not returning a library book? Really? Don’t the police in the central Texas town of Copperas Cove have anything better to do? Surely there must be drug dealers and murderers out there who deserve to be in jail more than this poor fellow.
Reading on, it just gets worse. The book that Jory Enck, 19, is accused of checking out and never returning was a GED study guide! Clearly, this man only wants to better himself – perhaps he had a rough start in life and is trying to make things right. How is he to turn his life around when society is so clearly unwilling to give him the chance? But no, Enck was arrested and tossed into jail, although he was released later on a $200.00 bond.
According to Copperas Cove authorities, the policy of jailing later returners was enacted four years ago in an attempt to minimize the cost of replacing unreturned books. In this day and age of public libraries closing across the nation due to lack of funding, it does make sense to try and keep the costs of running a library as low as possible. Not only that, but it is frustrating to go to the library and not be able to check out what you need.
The non-returner policy applies only to those who have kept a book for more than 90 days past its due date. That’s a long time to attribute the non-return to a simple slip of the mind. In Enck’s case, he had the GED study guide checked out since 2010. Three years? In three years, you didn’t find yourself just happening to be passing the library on your way to the grocery store or to the bank? In three years, you couldn’t give the book to a friend and ask them to return it on THEIR way to the grocery store or the bank?
More than likely, Enck simply forgot that he had the book or lost it without realizing it. That happens to the best of us and is surely not a jailable offense, except that the library tried repeatedly to contact him about the book. That’s an awful lot of ignored letters, not-picked-up Caller ID calls, and deleted voice messages. One can only assume that he had a pretty good idea as to why the library was trying so hard to reach him. Had he lost the book, the problem would have been solved easily by simply telling the library and reimbursing the cost of the book. Surely it would have been less than the $200.00 bond he was forced to pay this week.
Enck’s case smacks of the lack of personal responsibility seen in all walks of American life. If you do something that harms another, it is never your fault. If a problem nags at you, just ignore it and eventually it will go away. Thankfully, in this case, Enck’s problem couldn’t be ignored and didn’t go away. It seems to be an extreme punishment for a minor offense, but if it teaches people that their actions do have repercussions, perhaps the law will only have to be enforced this one time.
The saddest aspect of the whole story is that the lesson taught is something that should have been instilled by Enck’s parents. Therein lays the greatest waste of police resources in this case: the fact that the officers involved had to be the ones to teach it.
By Jennifer Pfalz