Posthaste Facts on the Environment #21


Jail Time for Parents with Leaky Septic Tank


Two young children will have to make do with only one parent this year. The reason? Their parents will each have to spend six months in jail for having a leaky septic tank. For details, contact Chad Cowan at (202) 507-6398.

Kent and Glenda Duell of Essex County, New York, parents of two young children, will be spending a good deal of 1997 behind bars. The reason? Their septic tank leaked.

The Duells were prosecuted on 102 counts of "intending to pollute" the waters of the state of New York, although there was no evidence that raw sewage had spilled out of their septic system, which was designed and approved by HUD. Nor was there any evidence that sewage had seeped into state waters. Amazingly, the prosecution's expert witness admitted he had never even visited the site.

Yet the Duells were sentenced to six months in jail, five years probation, and both fined $68,000. In what the judge characterized as a humane gesture, he staggered their sentences so that the children would not be forced to go into foster care.

The judge forced the Duells to choose publicly which one would go to jail first. Glenda, in tears, begged that she go first so her husband could keep his job, their income and health insurance for another six months. To quote Glenda Duell's father, "At issue here is... whether small, individual property owners... should face literally millions of dollars in fines and hundreds of years in jail for an alleged minor environmental infraction."

Source: Liberty Matters

Posthaste Facts on the Environment #21, published October 28, 1997 by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 20 F Street NW, Suite 700 , Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 507-6398, Fax (301) 498-1301, E-Mail

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