Shopping bag reusability hierarchy

Reduce, re-use, and recycle. But watch out when it comes to reusing shopping bags to carry your pumps while you commute to work in your New Balance sneakers. It’s important to coordinate. Not every bag goes well with your North Face jacket. Here are a few different sorts of bags, listed from lowest to highest level of yuppie acceptability:

Wal-Mart: Never acceptable. Why were you shopping at Wal-Mart to begin with? Why were you even in that part of town? I would put Sears in this category as well, if only because their bags are butt-ugly. Black bags from the liquor store and take-out bags with smiley faces should also never be reused.

Jewel/other thin grocery style bag: Only as a last resort. Trashy, and shows you don’t give a shit about the environment, because you clearly forgot your canvas bags at home last shopping trip.

Aldi: Still pretty trashy, but not as much, ’cause these are thick and durable. Shows that you’re cheap, since you shop at Aldi, but that’s kinda in fashion, so it’s passable.

Target: Your bag must at least meet the Target standard in in order to avoid cut eye.

Mall store: The more expensive the store, the more reusable the bag, except that paper beats plastic almost every time (fancy plastic shit like you’d get at Urban Outfitters can occasionally beat paper).

Major department store: Unless it’s from Macy’s, you’re all good. If it’s from Macy’s, you will lose points from the sort of dipshits that whine about the loss of Marshall Field’s, so carry with caution.

Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods: Hipster status symbol. Most rush-hour commuters will approve muchly. You may not care about the environment, but you care about looking like you do, and that’s good enough for credit.

Designer boutique: Clearly, you have a lot of money. Use this bag until it falls apart.

88 thoughts on “Shopping bag reusability hierarchy

  1. This article has saved my life, you don’t even know how many women have come up to me and commented on how green I was. Be right back, I left my Prius running.

  2. This article has saved my life, you don’t even know how many women have come up to me and commented on how green I was. Be right back, I left my Prius running.

  3. Huh?
    One wonders if this is really providing a ‘public service’

    Common sense should prevail.

    There’s such a nasty bitter after-taste to these posts.

  4. Huh?
    One wonders if this is really providing a ‘public service’

    Common sense should prevail.

    There’s such a nasty bitter after-taste to these posts.

  5. Common sense is fairly useless. Humans are too irrational to rely on that ideal.

    If my posts taste bad, stop eating them…

  6. Common sense is fairly useless. Humans are too irrational to rely on that ideal.

    If my posts taste bad, stop eating them…

  7. I use a Lowe’s Lumber reusable bag. They have that all-important little center-loop to hang on the bag carousel, and the branding throws observers off the trail.

  8. I use a Lowe’s Lumber reusable bag. They have that all-important little center-loop to hang on the bag carousel, and the branding throws observers off the trail.

  9. Silly, silly.
    Given the location (uptown)….what’s the verdict of Dollar Store/Unique Thrift, or 7 Eleven? How do their bags hold up?

    I use the re-usable bags that Whole Foods and IKEA provide.

  10. Silly, silly.
    Given the location (uptown)….what’s the verdict of Dollar Store/Unique Thrift, or 7 Eleven? How do their bags hold up?

    I use the re-usable bags that Whole Foods and IKEA provide.

  11. YES! This was hilarious and true.

    I remember in 8th grade my science teacher thought he was SO cool cuz he carried his extra belongings in his daughter’s Abercrombie bag. What a lame-o.

    But I agree; reusing department store bags is the way to go. I sometimes even reuse Victoria’s Secret bags because they come in all cute sizes and are quite durable.

  12. YES! This was hilarious and true.

    I remember in 8th grade my science teacher thought he was SO cool cuz he carried his extra belongings in his daughter’s Abercrombie bag. What a lame-o.

    But I agree; reusing department store bags is the way to go. I sometimes even reuse Victoria’s Secret bags because they come in all cute sizes and are quite durable.

  13. I like my Trader Joe’s bags. Mostly because 90% of Texans don’t know what Trader Joe’s is. Though really they’re just a small version of Central Market (a good competitor of Whole Foods). But my bags are bright and shiny and match my Hawaiian shirts.

  14. I like my Trader Joe’s bags. Mostly because 90% of Texans don’t know what Trader Joe’s is. Though really they’re just a small version of Central Market (a good competitor of Whole Foods). But my bags are bright and shiny and match my Hawaiian shirts.

  15. Candice,

    Your list is tired and dated. If this is the closest you can come to cutting edge social commentary it is time to hang up your blog and move back to the frozen tundra. Living so close to the Pantry and such diverse neighborhood, you surely must have something more interesting to say.

    Fat chicks with VS bags are nasty.

    -Gretz

  16. Candice,

    Your list is tired and dated. If this is the closest you can come to cutting edge social commentary it is time to hang up your blog and move back to the frozen tundra. Living so close to the Pantry and such diverse neighborhood, you surely must have something more interesting to say.

    Fat chicks with VS bags are nasty.

    -Gretz

  17. I never implied that I was trying for “cutting edge social commentary”. I was just making an observation. In any case, I should stop posting my blog address at Uptown Update, you people are all dipshits, curmudgeons, and cranks.

  18. I never implied that I was trying for “cutting edge social commentary”. I was just making an observation. In any case, I should stop posting my blog address at Uptown Update, you people are all dipshits, curmudgeons, and cranks.

  19. You’re a smart girl. Show it. From your commentary you have much more to offer than the shopping bag commentary.

    I look forward to hearing more of your intelligent (and appropriatly punctuated) commentary.

    As a fellow Canuck I am neither a dipshit, curmudgeon nor a crank. Interested in the ‘hood and my neighbors’ insights certainly. You are articulate and involved, show your stuff.

  20. You’re a smart girl. Show it. From your commentary you have much more to offer than the shopping bag commentary.

    I look forward to hearing more of your intelligent (and appropriatly punctuated) commentary.

    As a fellow Canuck I am neither a dipshit, curmudgeon nor a crank. Interested in the ‘hood and my neighbors’ insights certainly. You are articulate and involved, show your stuff.

  21. If your opinion is that I’m a smart girl, clearly, I am already showing it. (Or how would you ever know!?)

    This website isn’t for you, it’s for me. So get over it. If you’re looking for intelligent commentary, I don’t keep it here. It was never the purpose of this site. Never will be. & I know the rules; of. use-ing punctuation / and, I`ll break them (however) I please? This ain’t no college essay, I’ve written plenty enough of those. It’s ridiculous to make such jabs when you’ve misspelled appropriately, anywho. Never be a grammar/spelling Nazi unless your spelling and grammar are immaculate.

    And you’re not much of a Canuck if you spell neighbours that way…

    Bahahaha. Involved. I try not to be.

    You bores me now, goeth away.

  22. If your opinion is that I’m a smart girl, clearly, I am already showing it. (Or how would you ever know!?)

    This website isn’t for you, it’s for me. So get over it. If you’re looking for intelligent commentary, I don’t keep it here. It was never the purpose of this site. Never will be. & I know the rules; of. use-ing punctuation / and, I`ll break them (however) I please? This ain’t no college essay, I’ve written plenty enough of those. It’s ridiculous to make such jabs when you’ve misspelled appropriately, anywho. Never be a grammar/spelling Nazi unless your spelling and grammar are immaculate.

    And you’re not much of a Canuck if you spell neighbours that way…

    Bahahaha. Involved. I try not to be.

    You bores me now, goeth away.

  23. I was not trying to be critical of your grammar or punctuation. I don’t know or really care for the rules, nor the idiocyncracies of American or English spelling (I am both and use both somewhat carelessly).

    My intent was not necessarily to be critical, but rather to elicit insight.

    We are neighbors, so I’m not going away. In fact I look forward to making you acquaintance.

    If you aren’t involved in the ‘hood, why bother posting on UU or publishing your blog? Step forward. Don’t hide. Be a meaningful contributor to our community. I look forward to it.

  24. I was not trying to be critical of your grammar or punctuation. I don’t know or really care for the rules, nor the idiocyncracies of American or English spelling (I am both and use both somewhat carelessly).

    My intent was not necessarily to be critical, but rather to elicit insight.

    We are neighbors, so I’m not going away. In fact I look forward to making you acquaintance.

    If you aren’t involved in the ‘hood, why bother posting on UU or publishing your blog? Step forward. Don’t hide. Be a meaningful contributor to our community. I look forward to it.

  25. Didn’t I say you bore me? Don’t make me move you from moderated to banhammered.

    This blog has nothing to do with Uptown, but since I live there, it’s only natural that it would come up. This entry was more applicable to the loop, red line and brown lines, howevere.

    I read UU because I think the bitter negativity there is hilarious. If I had more time to waste (or more interest… most entries simply make me yawn), I’d probably troll it. Now GTFO.

  26. Didn’t I say you bore me? Don’t make me move you from moderated to banhammered.

    This blog has nothing to do with Uptown, but since I live there, it’s only natural that it would come up. This entry was more applicable to the loop, red line and brown lines, howevere.

    I read UU because I think the bitter negativity there is hilarious. If I had more time to waste (or more interest… most entries simply make me yawn), I’d probably troll it. Now GTFO.

  27. Nw tht n’t swt Ms. Pyn.

    Why nt b cnstrctv rthr thn wrtchd Btch? Crtnly y mst hv mr t ffr.

    f y hv tm t wst t cmmnt n shppng bgs, y mst srly hv tm t spk f mr ntllgnt mttrs?

  28. Nw tht n’t swt Ms. Pyn.

    Why nt b cnstrctv rthr thn wrtchd Btch? Crtnly y mst hv mr t ffr.

    f y hv tm t wst t cmmnt n shppng bgs, y mst srly hv tm t spk f mr ntllgnt mttrs?

  29. You certainly must have graduated 8th grade. Well done!

    Be smart.

  30. You certainly must have graduated 8th grade. Well done!

    Be smart.

  31. ‘I could never stand there and watch her drown’
    May 5, 2009 6:43 PM | 46 Comments | UPDATED STORY
    Like many mornings, Jess Craigie watched as her dog Moxie took off after a seagull during their morning walk along Lake Michigan.

    But on Tuesday, Moxie sprinted down a pier and disappeared over the edge at North Avenue Beach.

    “I saw her go over the pier. I was in shock,” said Craigie. “When I got to the edge, I saw her dog-paddling. She was clearly panicking.”

    Craigie raced toward the water, brushing aside a man who tried to stop her, and jumped in.

    “I was thinking, she’s not going to swim for long,” said Craigie. “With the temperature and her flailing, I didn’t think she would survive long.”

    The icy chill of the water surprised her. “It was definitely a shock, it takes your breath away.”

    She grabbed Moxie and held her on her shoulders as the dog tried to scramble up the wall. Holding on to a metal bar jutting from the water, Craigie heard the man on shore saying help was on the way.

    About 20 minnutes later — Craigie said it seemed like hours — the two were rescued by divers from the Chicago Police Marine Unit. Craigie, 34, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia and released. Moxie seemed fine and was taken home by Craigie’s husband.

    Craigie said she had no second thoughts about jumping in to save Moxie, particularly after she spotted the metal pole she could hold on to.

    “I think when you rescue a dog or own a pet you are 100 percent responsible. I could never stand there and watch her drown,” she said. “I don’t think I could live with myself knowing I didn’t try.”

    That’s why she disregarded the warnings from Aloke Mondkar, 30. “She was absolutely hysterical because that dog could not swim,” Mondkar said. “I tried to stop her but she would not listen. … She jumped in anyway.”

    Craigie gave Mondkar the leash of her other dog she had been walking — a Pomeranian named Oscar — and told him to watch the dog before she jumped in.

    Once in the water, she was able to grab her dog but could not lift herself and the dog over the 6-foot stone wall.

    Mondkar said he thought about jumping in but decided there would be no one to call 911. “She seemed to be fine — she said she could swim,” he said. He called for aid on his cell phone and kept talking to the woman to keep her from panicking.

    Police Marine Unit No. 8 responded. Officer Jack Hayes donned a cold-water diving suit and jumped in. His partners, officers Edmund Echevarria and Richard Sakalas, lifted her over the jetty wall and back to dry land.

    Echevarria said Craigie probably couldn’t have lasted another three minutes in the cold water. The woman complained her arms and legs were frozen, and kept asking about her dogs. He said the woman kept repeating herself, saying she was cold and that she was recuperating from a broken arm.

    “She was worried about her dogs. She wasn’t talking right, she said ‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m frozen,’ ” he said.

    “She’s not the first and she’s not the last [to do this],” Echevarria added. “People love their dogs.”

    While Moxie was not on a leash at the time of her swim, police are not expecting to ticket Craigie at this time. By law, all dogs in Chicago have to be on a leash while in public, police said.

    Craigie’s husband Willson said it did not surprise him that his wife jumped in after the dog. The couple has had the 2-year-old dog since they found it running across a busy street in Belize when it was about 6 weeks old.

    “It’s no surprise whatsoever, either one of us would have done it. … She and the other dog are like our two kids,” said Craigie.

    He said that his wife regularly takes their dogs to the lake. He was told by his wife that Moxie bolted after a bird and jumped into the water. While the dog is an “incredible” swimmer, she is very afraid of the water, he said.

    “She’s made to swim but it absolutely scares her to death,” Craigie said. “She wasn’t paying attention to any voice commands to get her to get around to the beach.”

    At the hospital, his wife kept complaining that she was cold but was in good spirits and ready to go home and relax. He thanked the police as well as Mondkar.

    “I’m very thankful that Mr. Mondkar was there to help. Even though he wasn’t very supportive of her decision, he still stuck it out with her,” said Craigie

  32. ‘I could never stand there and watch her drown’
    May 5, 2009 6:43 PM | 46 Comments | UPDATED STORY
    Like many mornings, Jess Craigie watched as her dog Moxie took off after a seagull during their morning walk along Lake Michigan.

    But on Tuesday, Moxie sprinted down a pier and disappeared over the edge at North Avenue Beach.

    “I saw her go over the pier. I was in shock,” said Craigie. “When I got to the edge, I saw her dog-paddling. She was clearly panicking.”

    Craigie raced toward the water, brushing aside a man who tried to stop her, and jumped in.

    “I was thinking, she’s not going to swim for long,” said Craigie. “With the temperature and her flailing, I didn’t think she would survive long.”

    The icy chill of the water surprised her. “It was definitely a shock, it takes your breath away.”

    She grabbed Moxie and held her on her shoulders as the dog tried to scramble up the wall. Holding on to a metal bar jutting from the water, Craigie heard the man on shore saying help was on the way.

    About 20 minnutes later — Craigie said it seemed like hours — the two were rescued by divers from the Chicago Police Marine Unit. Craigie, 34, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia and released. Moxie seemed fine and was taken home by Craigie’s husband.

    Craigie said she had no second thoughts about jumping in to save Moxie, particularly after she spotted the metal pole she could hold on to.

    “I think when you rescue a dog or own a pet you are 100 percent responsible. I could never stand there and watch her drown,” she said. “I don’t think I could live with myself knowing I didn’t try.”

    That’s why she disregarded the warnings from Aloke Mondkar, 30. “She was absolutely hysterical because that dog could not swim,” Mondkar said. “I tried to stop her but she would not listen. … She jumped in anyway.”

    Craigie gave Mondkar the leash of her other dog she had been walking — a Pomeranian named Oscar — and told him to watch the dog before she jumped in.

    Once in the water, she was able to grab her dog but could not lift herself and the dog over the 6-foot stone wall.

    Mondkar said he thought about jumping in but decided there would be no one to call 911. “She seemed to be fine — she said she could swim,” he said. He called for aid on his cell phone and kept talking to the woman to keep her from panicking.

    Police Marine Unit No. 8 responded. Officer Jack Hayes donned a cold-water diving suit and jumped in. His partners, officers Edmund Echevarria and Richard Sakalas, lifted her over the jetty wall and back to dry land.

    Echevarria said Craigie probably couldn’t have lasted another three minutes in the cold water. The woman complained her arms and legs were frozen, and kept asking about her dogs. He said the woman kept repeating herself, saying she was cold and that she was recuperating from a broken arm.

    “She was worried about her dogs. She wasn’t talking right, she said ‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m frozen,’ ” he said.

    “She’s not the first and she’s not the last [to do this],” Echevarria added. “People love their dogs.”

    While Moxie was not on a leash at the time of her swim, police are not expecting to ticket Craigie at this time. By law, all dogs in Chicago have to be on a leash while in public, police said.

    Craigie’s husband Willson said it did not surprise him that his wife jumped in after the dog. The couple has had the 2-year-old dog since they found it running across a busy street in Belize when it was about 6 weeks old.

    “It’s no surprise whatsoever, either one of us would have done it. … She and the other dog are like our two kids,” said Craigie.

    He said that his wife regularly takes their dogs to the lake. He was told by his wife that Moxie bolted after a bird and jumped into the water. While the dog is an “incredible” swimmer, she is very afraid of the water, he said.

    “She’s made to swim but it absolutely scares her to death,” Craigie said. “She wasn’t paying attention to any voice commands to get her to get around to the beach.”

    At the hospital, his wife kept complaining that she was cold but was in good spirits and ready to go home and relax. He thanked the police as well as Mondkar.

    “I’m very thankful that Mr. Mondkar was there to help. Even though he wasn’t very supportive of her decision, he still stuck it out with her,” said Craigie

  33. Like many mornings, Jess Craigie watched as her dog Moxie took off after a seagull during their morning walk along Lake Michigan.

    But on Tuesday, Moxie sprinted down a pier and disappeared over the edge at North Avenue Beach.

    “I saw her go over the pier. I was in shock,” said Craigie. “When I got to the edge, I saw her dog-paddling. She was clearly panicking.”

    Craigie raced toward the water, brushing aside a man who tried to stop her, and jumped in.

    “I was thinking, she’s not going to swim for long,” said Craigie. “With the temperature and her flailing, I didn’t think she would survive long.”

    The icy chill of the water surprised her. “It was definitely a shock, it takes your breath away.”

    She grabbed Moxie and held her on her shoulders as the dog tried to scramble up the wall. Holding on to a metal bar jutting from the water, Craigie heard the man on shore saying help was on the way.

    About 20 minnutes later — Craigie said it seemed like hours — the two were rescued by divers from the Chicago Police Marine Unit. Craigie, 34, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia and released. Moxie seemed fine and was taken home by Craigie’s husband.

    Craigie said she had no second thoughts about jumping in to save Moxie, particularly after she spotted the metal pole she could hold on to.

    “I think when you rescue a dog or own a pet you are 100 percent responsible. I could never stand there and watch her drown,” she said. “I don’t think I could live with myself knowing I didn’t try.”

    That’s why she disregarded the warnings from Aloke Mondkar, 30. “She was absolutely hysterical because that dog could not swim,” Mondkar said. “I tried to stop her but she would not listen. … She jumped in anyway.”

    Craigie gave Mondkar the leash of her other dog she had been walking — a Pomeranian named Oscar — and told him to watch the dog before she jumped in.

    Once in the water, she was able to grab her dog but could not lift herself and the dog over the 6-foot stone wall.

    Mondkar said he thought about jumping in but decided there would be no one to call 911. “She seemed to be fine — she said she could swim,” he said. He called for aid on his cell phone and kept talking to the woman to keep her from panicking.

    Police Marine Unit No. 8 responded. Officer Jack Hayes donned a cold-water diving suit and jumped in. His partners, officers Edmund Echevarria and Richard Sakalas, lifted her over the jetty wall and back to dry land.

    Echevarria said Craigie probably couldn’t have lasted another three minutes in the cold water. The woman complained her arms and legs were frozen, and kept asking about her dogs. He said the woman kept repeating herself, saying she was cold and that she was recuperating from a broken arm.

    “She was worried about her dogs. She wasn’t talking right, she said ‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m frozen,’ ” he said.

    “She’s not the first and she’s not the last [to do this],” Echevarria added. “People love their dogs.”

    While Moxie was not on a leash at the time of her swim, police are not expecting to ticket Craigie at this time. By law, all dogs in Chicago have to be on a leash while in public, police said.

    Craigie’s husband Willson said it did not surprise him that his wife jumped in after the dog. The couple has had the 2-year-old dog since they found it running across a busy street in Belize when it was about 6 weeks old.

    “It’s no surprise whatsoever, either one of us would have done it. … She and the other dog are like our two kids,” said Craigie.

    He said that his wife regularly takes their dogs to the lake. He was told by his wife that Moxie bolted after a bird and jumped into the water. While the dog is an “incredible” swimmer, she is very afraid of the water, he said.

    “She’s made to swim but it absolutely scares her to death,” Craigie said. “She wasn’t paying attention to any voice commands to get her to get around to the beach.”

    At the hospital, his wife kept complaining that she was cold but was in good spirits and ready to go home and relax. He thanked the police as well as Mondkar.

    “I’m very thankful that Mr. Mondkar was there to help. Even though he wasn’t very supportive of her decision, he still stuck it out with her,” said Craigie

  34. Like many mornings, Jess Craigie watched as her dog Moxie took off after a seagull during their morning walk along Lake Michigan.

    But on Tuesday, Moxie sprinted down a pier and disappeared over the edge at North Avenue Beach.

    “I saw her go over the pier. I was in shock,” said Craigie. “When I got to the edge, I saw her dog-paddling. She was clearly panicking.”

    Craigie raced toward the water, brushing aside a man who tried to stop her, and jumped in.

    “I was thinking, she’s not going to swim for long,” said Craigie. “With the temperature and her flailing, I didn’t think she would survive long.”

    The icy chill of the water surprised her. “It was definitely a shock, it takes your breath away.”

    She grabbed Moxie and held her on her shoulders as the dog tried to scramble up the wall. Holding on to a metal bar jutting from the water, Craigie heard the man on shore saying help was on the way.

    About 20 minnutes later — Craigie said it seemed like hours — the two were rescued by divers from the Chicago Police Marine Unit. Craigie, 34, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia and released. Moxie seemed fine and was taken home by Craigie’s husband.

    Craigie said she had no second thoughts about jumping in to save Moxie, particularly after she spotted the metal pole she could hold on to.

    “I think when you rescue a dog or own a pet you are 100 percent responsible. I could never stand there and watch her drown,” she said. “I don’t think I could live with myself knowing I didn’t try.”

    That’s why she disregarded the warnings from Aloke Mondkar, 30. “She was absolutely hysterical because that dog could not swim,” Mondkar said. “I tried to stop her but she would not listen. … She jumped in anyway.”

    Craigie gave Mondkar the leash of her other dog she had been walking — a Pomeranian named Oscar — and told him to watch the dog before she jumped in.

    Once in the water, she was able to grab her dog but could not lift herself and the dog over the 6-foot stone wall.

    Mondkar said he thought about jumping in but decided there would be no one to call 911. “She seemed to be fine — she said she could swim,” he said. He called for aid on his cell phone and kept talking to the woman to keep her from panicking.

    Police Marine Unit No. 8 responded. Officer Jack Hayes donned a cold-water diving suit and jumped in. His partners, officers Edmund Echevarria and Richard Sakalas, lifted her over the jetty wall and back to dry land.

    Echevarria said Craigie probably couldn’t have lasted another three minutes in the cold water. The woman complained her arms and legs were frozen, and kept asking about her dogs. He said the woman kept repeating herself, saying she was cold and that she was recuperating from a broken arm.

    “She was worried about her dogs. She wasn’t talking right, she said ‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m frozen,’ ” he said.

    “She’s not the first and she’s not the last [to do this],” Echevarria added. “People love their dogs.”

    While Moxie was not on a leash at the time of her swim, police are not expecting to ticket Craigie at this time. By law, all dogs in Chicago have to be on a leash while in public, police said.

    Craigie’s husband Willson said it did not surprise him that his wife jumped in after the dog. The couple has had the 2-year-old dog since they found it running across a busy street in Belize when it was about 6 weeks old.

    “It’s no surprise whatsoever, either one of us would have done it. … She and the other dog are like our two kids,” said Craigie.

    He said that his wife regularly takes their dogs to the lake. He was told by his wife that Moxie bolted after a bird and jumped into the water. While the dog is an “incredible” swimmer, she is very afraid of the water, he said.

    “She’s made to swim but it absolutely scares her to death,” Craigie said. “She wasn’t paying attention to any voice commands to get her to get around to the beach.”

    At the hospital, his wife kept complaining that she was cold but was in good spirits and ready to go home and relax. He thanked the police as well as Mondkar.

    “I’m very thankful that Mr. Mondkar was there to help. Even though he wasn’t very supportive of her decision, he still stuck it out with her,” said Craigie

  35. ‘I could never stand there and watch her drown’
    May 5, 2009 6:43 PM | 46 Comments | UPDATED STORY
    Like many mornings, Jess Craigie watched as her dog Moxie took off after a seagull during their morning walk along Lake Michigan.

    But on Tuesday, Moxie sprinted down a pier and disappeared over the edge at North Avenue Beach.

    “I saw her go over the pier. I was in shock,” said Craigie. “When I got to the edge, I saw her dog-paddling. She was clearly panicking.”

    Craigie raced toward the water, brushing aside a man who tried to stop her, and jumped in.

    “I was thinking, she’s not going to swim for long,” said Craigie. “With the temperature and her flailing, I didn’t think she would survive long.”

    The icy chill of the water surprised her. “It was definitely a shock, it takes your breath away.”

    She grabbed Moxie and held her on her shoulders as the dog tried to scramble up the wall. Holding on to a metal bar jutting from the water, Craigie heard the man on shore saying help was on the way.

    About 20 minnutes later — Craigie said it seemed like hours — the two were rescued by divers from the Chicago Police Marine Unit. Craigie, 34, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia and released. Moxie seemed fine and was taken home by Craigie’s husband.

    Craigie said she had no second thoughts about jumping in to save Moxie, particularly after she spotted the metal pole she could hold on to.

    “I think when you rescue a dog or own a pet you are 100 percent responsible. I could never stand there and watch her drown,” she said. “I don’t think I could live with myself knowing I didn’t try.”

    That’s why she disregarded the warnings from Aloke Mondkar, 30. “She was absolutely hysterical because that dog could not swim,” Mondkar said. “I tried to stop her but she would not listen. … She jumped in anyway.”

    Craigie gave Mondkar the leash of her other dog she had been walking — a Pomeranian named Oscar — and told him to watch the dog before she jumped in.

    Once in the water, she was able to grab her dog but could not lift herself and the dog over the 6-foot stone wall.

    Mondkar said he thought about jumping in but decided there would be no one to call 911. “She seemed to be fine — she said she could swim,” he said. He called for aid on his cell phone and kept talking to the woman to keep her from panicking.

    Police Marine Unit No. 8 responded. Officer Jack Hayes donned a cold-water diving suit and jumped in. His partners, officers Edmund Echevarria and Richard Sakalas, lifted her over the jetty wall and back to dry land.

    Echevarria said Craigie probably couldn’t have lasted another three minutes in the cold water. The woman complained her arms and legs were frozen, and kept asking about her dogs. He said the woman kept repeating herself, saying she was cold and that she was recuperating from a broken arm.

    “She was worried about her dogs. She wasn’t talking right, she said ‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m frozen,’ ” he said.

    “She’s not the first and she’s not the last [to do this],” Echevarria added. “People love their dogs.”

    While Moxie was not on a leash at the time of her swim, police are not expecting to ticket Craigie at this time. By law, all dogs in Chicago have to be on a leash while in public, police said.

    Craigie’s husband Willson said it did not surprise him that his wife jumped in after the dog. The couple has had the 2-year-old dog since they found it running across a busy street in Belize when it was about 6 weeks old.

    “It’s no surprise whatsoever, either one of us would have done it. … She and the other dog are like our two kids,” said Craigie.

    He said that his wife regularly takes their dogs to the lake. He was told by his wife that Moxie bolted after a bird and jumped into the water. While the dog is an “incredible” swimmer, she is very afraid of the water, he said.

    “She’s made to swim but it absolutely scares her to death,” Craigie said. “She wasn’t paying attention to any voice commands to get her to get around to the beach.”

    At the hospital, his wife kept complaining that she was cold but was in good spirits and ready to go home and relax. He thanked the police as well as Mondkar.

    “I’m very , he still stuck it out with her,” said Craigie

  36. ‘I could never stand there and watch her drown’
    May 5, 2009 6:43 PM | 46 Comments | UPDATED STORY
    Like many mornings, Jess Craigie watched as her dog Moxie took off after a seagull during their morning walk along Lake Michigan.

    But on Tuesday, Moxie sprinted down a pier and disappeared over the edge at North Avenue Beach.

    “I saw her go over the pier. I was in shock,” said Craigie. “When I got to the edge, I saw her dog-paddling. She was clearly panicking.”

    Craigie raced toward the water, brushing aside a man who tried to stop her, and jumped in.

    “I was thinking, she’s not going to swim for long,” said Craigie. “With the temperature and her flailing, I didn’t think she would survive long.”

    The icy chill of the water surprised her. “It was definitely a shock, it takes your breath away.”

    She grabbed Moxie and held her on her shoulders as the dog tried to scramble up the wall. Holding on to a metal bar jutting from the water, Craigie heard the man on shore saying help was on the way.

    About 20 minnutes later — Craigie said it seemed like hours — the two were rescued by divers from the Chicago Police Marine Unit. Craigie, 34, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia and released. Moxie seemed fine and was taken home by Craigie’s husband.

    Craigie said she had no second thoughts about jumping in to save Moxie, particularly after she spotted the metal pole she could hold on to.

    “I think when you rescue a dog or own a pet you are 100 percent responsible. I could never stand there and watch her drown,” she said. “I don’t think I could live with myself knowing I didn’t try.”

    That’s why she disregarded the warnings from Aloke Mondkar, 30. “She was absolutely hysterical because that dog could not swim,” Mondkar said. “I tried to stop her but she would not listen. … She jumped in anyway.”

    Craigie gave Mondkar the leash of her other dog she had been walking — a Pomeranian named Oscar — and told him to watch the dog before she jumped in.

    Once in the water, she was able to grab her dog but could not lift herself and the dog over the 6-foot stone wall.

    Mondkar said he thought about jumping in but decided there would be no one to call 911. “She seemed to be fine — she said she could swim,” he said. He called for aid on his cell phone and kept talking to the woman to keep her from panicking.

    Police Marine Unit No. 8 responded. Officer Jack Hayes donned a cold-water diving suit and jumped in. His partners, officers Edmund Echevarria and Richard Sakalas, lifted her over the jetty wall and back to dry land.

    Echevarria said Craigie probably couldn’t have lasted another three minutes in the cold water. The woman complained her arms and legs were frozen, and kept asking about her dogs. He said the woman kept repeating herself, saying she was cold and that she was recuperating from a broken arm.

    “She was worried about her dogs. She wasn’t talking right, she said ‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m frozen,’ ” he said.

    “She’s not the first and she’s not the last [to do this],” Echevarria added. “People love their dogs.”

    While Moxie was not on a leash at the time of her swim, police are not expecting to ticket Craigie at this time. By law, all dogs in Chicago have to be on a leash while in public, police said.

    Craigie’s husband Willson said it did not surprise him that his wife jumped in after the dog. The couple has had the 2-year-old dog since they found it running across a busy street in Belize when it was about 6 weeks old.

    “It’s no surprise whatsoever, either one of us would have done it. … She and the other dog are like our two kids,” said Craigie.

    He said that his wife regularly takes their dogs to the lake. He was told by his wife that Moxie bolted after a bird and jumped into the water. While the dog is an “incredible” swimmer, she is very afraid of the water, he said.

    “She’s made to swim but it absolutely scares her to death,” Craigie said. “She wasn’t paying attention to any voice commands to get her to get around to the beach.”

    At the hospital, his wife kept complaining that she was cold but was in good spirits and ready to go home and relax. He thanked the police as well as Mondkar.

    “I’m very , he still stuck it out with her,” said Craigie

  37. With his large frame hunched over a desk, Paul Komyatti Jr. excitedly flips through an old photo album, pointing out the different pictures of him over the last three decades. There’s one of his cat that he raised from a kitten. Another is with an old girlfriend. And there’s a shot of him with his buddies, striking a macho pose.

    What’s unusual is that every photo was taken from the same place: prison.

    Komyatti was sent into the Indiana correctional system as a teenager in 1983. Next week, he’s scheduled to emerge as a free man at age 44. There will be no family to greet him as he takes his first steps back into society. They were all convicted for their roles in the 1983 murder of Komyatti’s father, Paul Sr., who was stabbed and decapitated as he slept in his Hammond home.

    Komyatti was 17 the night he held his dad’s legs down while his brother-in-law stabbed him more than 30 times with a fishing knife. Komyatti was sentenced to 100 years in prison — 55 years for murder and 45 years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. Good behavior and education credits are leading to his early release.

    Now 6 foot 5, and weighing 235 pounds, Komyatti is a lifetime away from who he was then. “Most of my memories are from behind four walls,” said Komyatti in an interview with the Tribune. “Prison is like an entirely different world. It’s like going to a foreign country where I do speak the language, but I have to assimilate into the culture.”

    He’s starting to get his affairs in order. Since being moved to a transitional work-release center in September, he has signed a lease for an apartment and obtained a driver’s permit and library card.

    But the society he’ll rejoin barely resembles the one he left. Komyatti barely knows how to use a cell phone, and recently tried the Internet for the first time. He literally had to relearn how to ride a bike.

    While in prison, Komyatti earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Ball State University, with honors, and associate degrees in criminal justice and general studies. He paid tuition through an education program offered to the correctional system.

    He has a job in the retail sector and hopes to land a second job before summer, but he’s wary about pursuing a corporate career. “They don’t know me,” he said. “They know one particular act.”

    In 1983, Komyatti was a senior at Morton High School. He earned good grades, played football and planned on going into the Air Force after graduation.

    But he had a secret. His family was planning to murder his father.

    According to court records, Paul Sr. “was a strict and domineering father and husband” and “on occasion drank to excess and was loud and violent.” Komyatti said he was beaten so badly by his father that as a child he stuttered. His mother, he said, would take him and run away to her sister’s home. But his father would always come after them, Komyatti said.

    “There were occasions where he would stick a gun next to my head and he’d say he’d blow my head off if she didn’t come home,” he said.

    For weeks, Paul Jr., his mother, sister and brother-in-law tried poisoning him. But when that failed, they hatched a new plan. As Paul Sr. slept, Komyatti and his brother-in-law crept into his room to render him unconscious with ether and inject air into his veins, making his death look like a heart attack. But during the assault, Paul Sr. woke up — reportedly yelling, “Son, son, can’t we work something out?” — as his daughter shut the door to muffle the cries, according to court records.

    Tom Vanes, a former Lake County, Ind., prosecutor, remembers that he saw no remorse from family members, including Komyatti, during the initial weeks of the investigation.

    “There was not the reaction you would expect to see for a kid who helped bury his dad. No love, no remorse, no empathy, no hesitation.”

    Komyatti admits there was no love for his father, but he said that doesn’t excuse or justify what they did. “I didn’t think there was any other options,” he said.

    When he first got to prison, he was rebellious and quickly racked up violations. He tried to escape. When he was 25 he was sent to the Westville Correctional Facility, the state’s most notorious prison, where he stayed on and off for the next four years.

    But it was at the most secure facility where he bought a book about prisoners’ rights. Soon, he was protesting prison conditions and the treatment of inmates. He went on hunger strikes and filed lawsuits. But then in 1995, it dawned on him: “I might get out one day.” So he set out on a new path toward religion and education. Komyatti isn’t sure what he’s looking forward to most upon his release.

    “I look forward to playing some handball. Maybe going to the park. I might just go over to White River and jump in the river.”

    Gerald Waite, an anthropology professor at Ball State, teaches inmates at the prison and has known Komyatti for 12 years.

    “He’s probably one of my favorite students. He’s extremely capable, extremely versatile, extremely smart and charismatic. … I think he’ll adapt, but it will really test his patience.”

    Based on statistics, Komyatti has a good shot of never going back to jail. According to a 2004 study by The Sentencing Project, four out of five people sentenced from “a number of years” to life in prison are not rearrested when released.

    “Crime is a young persons’ pursuit; we know that people age out of crime,” said Ryan King, a policy analyst.

    Komyatti doesn’t spend time thinking about what he did as a young man, but rather what he can accomplish as a free man.

    “You might say I wish I had done this, or wish I had done that, or I wish I hadn’t done this,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t dwell on them because there’s nothing I can do about it. I learned from my past. You learn from your past, you don’t repeat it.”

    eslife@tribune.com

  38. With his large frame hunched over a desk, Paul Komyatti Jr. excitedly flips through an old photo album, pointing out the different pictures of him over the last three decades. There’s one of his cat that he raised from a kitten. Another is with an old girlfriend. And there’s a shot of him with his buddies, striking a macho pose.

    What’s unusual is that every photo was taken from the same place: prison.

    Komyatti was sent into the Indiana correctional system as a teenager in 1983. Next week, he’s scheduled to emerge as a free man at age 44. There will be no family to greet him as he takes his first steps back into society. They were all convicted for their roles in the 1983 murder of Komyatti’s father, Paul Sr., who was stabbed and decapitated as he slept in his Hammond home.

    Komyatti was 17 the night he held his dad’s legs down while his brother-in-law stabbed him more than 30 times with a fishing knife. Komyatti was sentenced to 100 years in prison — 55 years for murder and 45 years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. Good behavior and education credits are leading to his early release.

    Now 6 foot 5, and weighing 235 pounds, Komyatti is a lifetime away from who he was then. “Most of my memories are from behind four walls,” said Komyatti in an interview with the Tribune. “Prison is like an entirely different world. It’s like going to a foreign country where I do speak the language, but I have to assimilate into the culture.”

    He’s starting to get his affairs in order. Since being moved to a transitional work-release center in September, he has signed a lease for an apartment and obtained a driver’s permit and library card.

    But the society he’ll rejoin barely resembles the one he left. Komyatti barely knows how to use a cell phone, and recently tried the Internet for the first time. He literally had to relearn how to ride a bike.

    While in prison, Komyatti earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Ball State University, with honors, and associate degrees in criminal justice and general studies. He paid tuition through an education program offered to the correctional system.

    He has a job in the retail sector and hopes to land a second job before summer, but he’s wary about pursuing a corporate career. “They don’t know me,” he said. “They know one particular act.”

    In 1983, Komyatti was a senior at Morton High School. He earned good grades, played football and planned on going into the Air Force after graduation.

    But he had a secret. His family was planning to murder his father.

    According to court records, Paul Sr. “was a strict and domineering father and husband” and “on occasion drank to excess and was loud and violent.” Komyatti said he was beaten so badly by his father that as a child he stuttered. His mother, he said, would take him and run away to her sister’s home. But his father would always come after them, Komyatti said.

    “There were occasions where he would stick a gun next to my head and he’d say he’d blow my head off if she didn’t come home,” he said.

    For weeks, Paul Jr., his mother, sister and brother-in-law tried poisoning him. But when that failed, they hatched a new plan. As Paul Sr. slept, Komyatti and his brother-in-law crept into his room to render him unconscious with ether and inject air into his veins, making his death look like a heart attack. But during the assault, Paul Sr. woke up — reportedly yelling, “Son, son, can’t we work something out?” — as his daughter shut the door to muffle the cries, according to court records.

    Tom Vanes, a former Lake County, Ind., prosecutor, remembers that he saw no remorse from family members, including Komyatti, during the initial weeks of the investigation.

    “There was not the reaction you would expect to see for a kid who helped bury his dad. No love, no remorse, no empathy, no hesitation.”

    Komyatti admits there was no love for his father, but he said that doesn’t excuse or justify what they did. “I didn’t think there was any other options,” he said.

    When he first got to prison, he was rebellious and quickly racked up violations. He tried to escape. When he was 25 he was sent to the Westville Correctional Facility, the state’s most notorious prison, where he stayed on and off for the next four years.

    But it was at the most secure facility where he bought a book about prisoners’ rights. Soon, he was protesting prison conditions and the treatment of inmates. He went on hunger strikes and filed lawsuits. But then in 1995, it dawned on him: “I might get out one day.” So he set out on a new path toward religion and education. Komyatti isn’t sure what he’s looking forward to most upon his release.

    “I look forward to playing some handball. Maybe going to the park. I might just go over to White River and jump in the river.”

    Gerald Waite, an anthropology professor at Ball State, teaches inmates at the prison and has known Komyatti for 12 years.

    “He’s probably one of my favorite students. He’s extremely capable, extremely versatile, extremely smart and charismatic. … I think he’ll adapt, but it will really test his patience.”

    Based on statistics, Komyatti has a good shot of never going back to jail. According to a 2004 study by The Sentencing Project, four out of five people sentenced from “a number of years” to life in prison are not rearrested when released.

    “Crime is a young persons’ pursuit; we know that people age out of crime,” said Ryan King, a policy analyst.

    Komyatti doesn’t spend time thinking about what he did as a young man, but rather what he can accomplish as a free man.

    “You might say I wish I had done this, or wish I had done that, or I wish I hadn’t done this,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t dwell on them because there’s nothing I can do about it. I learned from my past. You learn from your past, you don’t repeat it.”

    eslife@tribune.com

  39. With his large frame hunched over a desk, Paul Komyatti Jr. excitedly flips through an old photo album, pointing out the different pictures of him over the last three decades. There’s one of his cat that he raised from a kitten. Another is with an old girlfriend. And there’s a shot of him with his buddies, striking a macho pose.

    What’s unusual is that every photo was taken from the same place: prison.

    Komyatti was sent into the Indiana correctional system as a teenager in 1983. Next week, he’s scheduled to emerge as a free man at age 44. There will be no family to greet him as he takes his first steps back into society. They were all convicted for their roles in the 1983 murder of Komyatti’s father, Paul Sr., who was stabbed and decapitated as he slept in his Hammond home.

    Komyatti was 17 the night he held his dad’s legs down while his brother-in-law stabbed him more than 30 times with a fishing knife. Komyatti was sentenced to 100 years in prison — 55 years for murder and 45 years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. Good behavior and education credits are leading to his early release.

    Now 6 foot 5, and weighing 235 pounds, Komyatti is a lifetime away from who he was then. “Most of my memories are from behind four walls,” said Komyatti in an interview with the Tribune. “Prison is like an entirely different world. It’s like going to a foreign country where I do speak the language, but I have to assimilate into the culture.”

    He’s starting to get his affairs in order. Since being moved to a transitional work-release center in September, he has signed a lease for an apartment and obtained a driver’s permit and library card.

    But the society he’ll rejoin barely resembles the one he left. Komyatti barely knows how to use a cell phone, and recently tried the Internet for the first time. He literally had to relearn how to ride a bike.

    While in prison, Komyatti earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Ball State University, with honors, and associate degrees in criminal justice and general studies. He paid tuition through an education program offered to the correctional system.

    He has a job in the retail sector and hopes to land a second job before summer, but he’s wary about pursuing a corporate career. “They don’t know me,” he said. “They know one particular act.”

    In 1983, Komyatti was a senior at Morton High School. He earned good grades, played football and planned on going into the Air Force after graduation.

    But he had a secret. His family was planning to murder his father.

    According to court records, Paul Sr. “was a strict and domineering father and husband” and “on occasion drank to excess and was loud and violent.” Komyatti said he was beaten so badly by his father that as a child he stuttered. His mother, he said, would take him and run away to her sister’s home. But his father would always come after them, Komyatti said.

    “There were occasions where he would stick a gun next to my head and he’d say he’d blow my head off if she didn’t come home,” he said.

    For weeks, Paul Jr., his mother, sister and brother-in-law tried poisoning him. But when that failed, they hatched a new plan. As Paul Sr. slept, Komyatti and his brother-in-law crept into his room to render him unconscious with ether and inject air into his veins, making his death look like a heart attack. But during the assault, Paul Sr. woke up — reportedly yelling, “Son, son, can’t we work something out?” — as his daughter shut the door to muffle the cries, according to court records.

    Tom Vanes, a former Lake County, Ind., prosecutor, remembers that he saw no remorse from family members, including Komyatti, during the initial weeks of the investigation.

    “There was not the reaction you would expect to see for a kid who helped bury his dad. No love, no remorse, no empathy, no hesitation.”

    Komyatti admits there was no love for his father, but he said that doesn’t excuse or justify what they did. “I didn’t think there was any other options,” he said.

    When he first got to prison, he was rebellious and quickly racked up violations. He tried to escape. When he was 25 he was sent to the Westville Correctional Facility, the state’s most notorious prison, where he stayed on and off for the next four years.

    But it was at the most secure facility where he bought a book about prisoners’ rights. Soon, he was protesting prison conditions and the treatment of inmates. He went on hunger strikes and filed lawsuits. But then in 1995, it dawned on him: “I might get out one day.” So he set out on a new path toward religion and education. Komyatti isn’t sure what he’s looking forward to most upon his release.

    “I look forward to playing some handball. Maybe going to the park. I might just go over to White River and jump in the river.”

    Gerald Waite, an anthropology professor at Ball State, teaches inmates at the prison and has known Komyatti for 12 years.

    “He’s probably one of my favorite students. He’s extremely capable, extremely versatile, extremely smart and charismatic. … I think he’ll adapt, but it will really test his patience.”

    Based on statistics, Komyatti has a good shot of never going back to jail. According to a 2004 study by The Sentencing Project, four out of five people sentenced from “a number of years” to life in prison are not rearrested when released.

    “Crime is a young persons’ pursuit; we know that people age out of crime,” said Ryan King, a policy analyst.

    Komyatti doesn’t spend time thinking about what he did as a young man, but rather what he can accomplish as a free man.

    “You might say I wish I had done this, or wish I had done that, or I wish I hadn’t done this,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t dwell on them because there’s nothing I can do about it. I learned from my past. You learn from your past, you don’t repeat it.”

  40. With his large frame hunched over a desk, Paul Komyatti Jr. excitedly flips through an old photo album, pointing out the different pictures of him over the last three decades. There’s one of his cat that he raised from a kitten. Another is with an old girlfriend. And there’s a shot of him with his buddies, striking a macho pose.

    What’s unusual is that every photo was taken from the same place: prison.

    Komyatti was sent into the Indiana correctional system as a teenager in 1983. Next week, he’s scheduled to emerge as a free man at age 44. There will be no family to greet him as he takes his first steps back into society. They were all convicted for their roles in the 1983 murder of Komyatti’s father, Paul Sr., who was stabbed and decapitated as he slept in his Hammond home.

    Komyatti was 17 the night he held his dad’s legs down while his brother-in-law stabbed him more than 30 times with a fishing knife. Komyatti was sentenced to 100 years in prison — 55 years for murder and 45 years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. Good behavior and education credits are leading to his early release.

    Now 6 foot 5, and weighing 235 pounds, Komyatti is a lifetime away from who he was then. “Most of my memories are from behind four walls,” said Komyatti in an interview with the Tribune. “Prison is like an entirely different world. It’s like going to a foreign country where I do speak the language, but I have to assimilate into the culture.”

    He’s starting to get his affairs in order. Since being moved to a transitional work-release center in September, he has signed a lease for an apartment and obtained a driver’s permit and library card.

    But the society he’ll rejoin barely resembles the one he left. Komyatti barely knows how to use a cell phone, and recently tried the Internet for the first time. He literally had to relearn how to ride a bike.

    While in prison, Komyatti earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Ball State University, with honors, and associate degrees in criminal justice and general studies. He paid tuition through an education program offered to the correctional system.

    He has a job in the retail sector and hopes to land a second job before summer, but he’s wary about pursuing a corporate career. “They don’t know me,” he said. “They know one particular act.”

    In 1983, Komyatti was a senior at Morton High School. He earned good grades, played football and planned on going into the Air Force after graduation.

    But he had a secret. His family was planning to murder his father.

    According to court records, Paul Sr. “was a strict and domineering father and husband” and “on occasion drank to excess and was loud and violent.” Komyatti said he was beaten so badly by his father that as a child he stuttered. His mother, he said, would take him and run away to her sister’s home. But his father would always come after them, Komyatti said.

    “There were occasions where he would stick a gun next to my head and he’d say he’d blow my head off if she didn’t come home,” he said.

    For weeks, Paul Jr., his mother, sister and brother-in-law tried poisoning him. But when that failed, they hatched a new plan. As Paul Sr. slept, Komyatti and his brother-in-law crept into his room to render him unconscious with ether and inject air into his veins, making his death look like a heart attack. But during the assault, Paul Sr. woke up — reportedly yelling, “Son, son, can’t we work something out?” — as his daughter shut the door to muffle the cries, according to court records.

    Tom Vanes, a former Lake County, Ind., prosecutor, remembers that he saw no remorse from family members, including Komyatti, during the initial weeks of the investigation.

    “There was not the reaction you would expect to see for a kid who helped bury his dad. No love, no remorse, no empathy, no hesitation.”

    Komyatti admits there was no love for his father, but he said that doesn’t excuse or justify what they did. “I didn’t think there was any other options,” he said.

    When he first got to prison, he was rebellious and quickly racked up violations. He tried to escape. When he was 25 he was sent to the Westville Correctional Facility, the state’s most notorious prison, where he stayed on and off for the next four years.

    But it was at the most secure facility where he bought a book about prisoners’ rights. Soon, he was protesting prison conditions and the treatment of inmates. He went on hunger strikes and filed lawsuits. But then in 1995, it dawned on him: “I might get out one day.” So he set out on a new path toward religion and education. Komyatti isn’t sure what he’s looking forward to most upon his release.

    “I look forward to playing some handball. Maybe going to the park. I might just go over to White River and jump in the river.”

    Gerald Waite, an anthropology professor at Ball State, teaches inmates at the prison and has known Komyatti for 12 years.

    “He’s probably one of my favorite students. He’s extremely capable, extremely versatile, extremely smart and charismatic. … I think he’ll adapt, but it will really test his patience.”

    Based on statistics, Komyatti has a good shot of never going back to jail. According to a 2004 study by The Sentencing Project, four out of five people sentenced from “a number of years” to life in prison are not rearrested when released.

    “Crime is a young persons’ pursuit; we know that people age out of crime,” said Ryan King, a policy analyst.

    Komyatti doesn’t spend time thinking about what he did as a young man, but rather what he can accomplish as a free man.

    “You might say I wish I had done this, or wish I had done that, or I wish I hadn’t done this,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t dwell on them because there’s nothing I can do about it. I learned from my past. You learn from your past, you don’t repeat it.”

  41. With his large frame hunched over a desk, Paul Komyatti Jr. excitedly flips through an old photo album, pointing out the different pictures of him over the last three decades. There’s one of his cat that he raised from a kitten. Another is with an old girlfriend. And there’s a shot of him with his buddies, striking a macho pose.

    What’s unusual is that every photo was taken from the same place: prison.

    Komyatti was sent into the Indiana correctional system as a teenager in 1983. Next week, he’s scheduled to emerge as a free man at age 44. There will be no family to greet him as he takes his first steps back into society. They were all convicted for their roles in the 1983 murder of Komyatti’s father, Paul Sr., who was stabbed and decapitated as he slept in his Hammond home.

    Komyatti was 17 the night he held his dad’s legs down while his brother-in-law stabbed him more than 30 times with a fishing knife. Komyatti was sentenced to 100 years in prison — 55 years for murder and 45 years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. Good behavior and education credits are leading to his early release.

    Now 6 foot 5, and weighing 235 pounds, Komyatti is a lifetime away from who he was then. “Most of my memories are from behind four walls,” said Komyatti in an interview with the Tribune. “Prison is like an entirely different world. It’s like going to a foreign country where I do speak the language, but I have to assimilate into the culture.”

    He’s starting to get his affairs in order. Since being moved to a transitional work-release center in September, he has signed a lease for an apartment and obtained a driver’s permit and library card.

    But the society he’ll rejoin barely resembles the one he left. Komyatti barely knows how to use a cell phone, and recently tried the Internet for the first time. He literally had to relearn how to ride a bike.

    While in prison, Komyatti earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Ball State University, with honors, and associate degrees in criminal justice and general studies. He paid tuition through an education program offered to the correctional system.

    He has a job in the retail sector and hopes to land a second job before summer, but he’s wary about pursuing a corporate career. “They don’t know me,” he said. “They know one particular act.”

    In 1983, Komyatti was a senior at Morton High School. He earned good grades, played football and planned on going into the Air Force after graduation.

    But he had a secret. His family was planning to murder his father.

    According to court records, Paul Sr. “was a strict and domineering father and husband” and “on occasion drank to excess and was loud and violent.” Komyatti said he was beaten so badly by his father that as a child he stuttered. His mother, he said, would take him and run away to her sister’s home. But his father would always come after them, Komyatti said.

    “There were occasions where he would stick a gun next to my head and he’d say he’d blow my head off if she didn’t come home,” he said.

    For weeks, Paul Jr., his mother, sister and brother-in-law tried poisoning him. But when that failed, they hatched a new plan. As Paul Sr. slept, Komyatti and his brother-in-law crept into his room to render him unconscious with ether and inject air into his veins, making his death look like a heart attack. But during the assault, Paul Sr. woke up — reportedly yelling, “Son, son, can’t we work something out?” — as his daughter shut the door to muffle the cries, according to court records.

    Tom Vanes, a former Lake County, Ind., prosecutor, remembers that he saw no remorse from family members, including Komyatti, during the initial weeks of the investigation.

    “There was not the reaction you would expect to see for a kid who helped bury his dad. No love, no remorse, no empathy, no hesitation.”

    Komyatti admits there was no love for his father, but he said that doesn’t excuse or justify what they did. “I didn’t think there was any other options,” he said.

    When he first got to prison, he was rebellious and quickly racked up violations. He tried to escape. When he was 25 he was sent to the Westville Correctional Facility, the state’s most notorious prison, where he stayed on and off for the next four years.

    But it was at the most secure facility where he bought a book about prisoners’ rights. Soon, he was protesting prison conditions and the treatment of inmates. He went on hunger strikes and filed lawsuits. But then in 1995, it dawned on him: “I might get out one day.” So he set out on a new path toward religion and education. Komyatti isn’t sure what he’s looking forward to most upon his release.

    “I look forward to playing some handball. Maybe going to the park. I might just go over to White River and jump in the river.”

    Gerald Waite, an anthropology professor at Ball State, teaches inmates at the prison and has known Komyatti for 12 years.

    “He’s probably one of my favorite students. He’s extremely capable, extremely versatile, extremely smart and charismatic. … I think he’ll adapt, but it will really test his patience.”

    Based on statistics, Komyatti has a good shot of never going back to jail. According to a 2004 study by The Sentencing Project, four out of five people sentenced from “a number of years” to life in prison are not rearrested when released.

    “Crime is a young persons’ pursuit; we know that people age out of crime,” said Ryan King, a policy analyst.

    Komyatti doesn’t spend time thinking about what he did as a young man, but rather what he can accomplish as a free man.

    “You might say I wish I had done this, or wish I had done that, or I wish I hadn’t done this,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t dwell on them because there’s nothing I can do about it. I learned from my past.

  42. With his large frame hunched over a desk, Paul Komyatti Jr. excitedly flips through an old photo album, pointing out the different pictures of him over the last three decades. There’s one of his cat that he raised from a kitten. Another is with an old girlfriend. And there’s a shot of him with his buddies, striking a macho pose.

    What’s unusual is that every photo was taken from the same place: prison.

    Komyatti was sent into the Indiana correctional system as a teenager in 1983. Next week, he’s scheduled to emerge as a free man at age 44. There will be no family to greet him as he takes his first steps back into society. They were all convicted for their roles in the 1983 murder of Komyatti’s father, Paul Sr., who was stabbed and decapitated as he slept in his Hammond home.

    Komyatti was 17 the night he held his dad’s legs down while his brother-in-law stabbed him more than 30 times with a fishing knife. Komyatti was sentenced to 100 years in prison — 55 years for murder and 45 years for conspiracy, to be served concurrently. Good behavior and education credits are leading to his early release.

    Now 6 foot 5, and weighing 235 pounds, Komyatti is a lifetime away from who he was then. “Most of my memories are from behind four walls,” said Komyatti in an interview with the Tribune. “Prison is like an entirely different world. It’s like going to a foreign country where I do speak the language, but I have to assimilate into the culture.”

    He’s starting to get his affairs in order. Since being moved to a transitional work-release center in September, he has signed a lease for an apartment and obtained a driver’s permit and library card.

    But the society he’ll rejoin barely resembles the one he left. Komyatti barely knows how to use a cell phone, and recently tried the Internet for the first time. He literally had to relearn how to ride a bike.

    While in prison, Komyatti earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Ball State University, with honors, and associate degrees in criminal justice and general studies. He paid tuition through an education program offered to the correctional system.

    He has a job in the retail sector and hopes to land a second job before summer, but he’s wary about pursuing a corporate career. “They don’t know me,” he said. “They know one particular act.”

    In 1983, Komyatti was a senior at Morton High School. He earned good grades, played football and planned on going into the Air Force after graduation.

    But he had a secret. His family was planning to murder his father.

    According to court records, Paul Sr. “was a strict and domineering father and husband” and “on occasion drank to excess and was loud and violent.” Komyatti said he was beaten so badly by his father that as a child he stuttered. His mother, he said, would take him and run away to her sister’s home. But his father would always come after them, Komyatti said.

    “There were occasions where he would stick a gun next to my head and he’d say he’d blow my head off if she didn’t come home,” he said.

    For weeks, Paul Jr., his mother, sister and brother-in-law tried poisoning him. But when that failed, they hatched a new plan. As Paul Sr. slept, Komyatti and his brother-in-law crept into his room to render him unconscious with ether and inject air into his veins, making his death look like a heart attack. But during the assault, Paul Sr. woke up — reportedly yelling, “Son, son, can’t we work something out?” — as his daughter shut the door to muffle the cries, according to court records.

    Tom Vanes, a former Lake County, Ind., prosecutor, remembers that he saw no remorse from family members, including Komyatti, during the initial weeks of the investigation.

    “There was not the reaction you would expect to see for a kid who helped bury his dad. No love, no remorse, no empathy, no hesitation.”

    Komyatti admits there was no love for his father, but he said that doesn’t excuse or justify what they did. “I didn’t think there was any other options,” he said.

    When he first got to prison, he was rebellious and quickly racked up violations. He tried to escape. When he was 25 he was sent to the Westville Correctional Facility, the state’s most notorious prison, where he stayed on and off for the next four years.

    But it was at the most secure facility where he bought a book about prisoners’ rights. Soon, he was protesting prison conditions and the treatment of inmates. He went on hunger strikes and filed lawsuits. But then in 1995, it dawned on him: “I might get out one day.” So he set out on a new path toward religion and education. Komyatti isn’t sure what he’s looking forward to most upon his release.

    “I look forward to playing some handball. Maybe going to the park. I might just go over to White River and jump in the river.”

    Gerald Waite, an anthropology professor at Ball State, teaches inmates at the prison and has known Komyatti for 12 years.

    “He’s probably one of my favorite students. He’s extremely capable, extremely versatile, extremely smart and charismatic. … I think he’ll adapt, but it will really test his patience.”

    Based on statistics, Komyatti has a good shot of never going back to jail. According to a 2004 study by The Sentencing Project, four out of five people sentenced from “a number of years” to life in prison are not rearrested when released.

    “Crime is a young persons’ pursuit; we know that people age out of crime,” said Ryan King, a policy analyst.

    Komyatti doesn’t spend time thinking about what he did as a young man, but rather what he can accomplish as a free man.

    “You might say I wish I had done this, or wish I had done that, or I wish I hadn’t done this,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t dwell on them because there’s nothing I can do about it. I learned from my past.

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