An 88-year-old World War II veteran was sent to jail the day after Christmas because he didn’t have the money to make repairs to his business.
Kenneth Knudson appeared in front of a judge on December 23 after being cited for a code violation. The building that Knudson ran his Horton, Kansas business Knudson Jewelry out of had a crack and missing bricks on the exterior, and the veteran was unable to pay for the necessary repairs. When he appeared in court, he explained to the judge that he didn’t have the money available, but still he was fined $100 and forced to spend a night in jail.
“I was on the planning commission for Horton, I’ve been the president of the chamber, I’ve been on the appeals board,” he told WDAF News. “I felt like that was pretty severe punishment. I grew up in this area. I am a World War II veteran and I didn’t really expect to be treated this way.”
Police Chief John Calhoon says that he understands why people are outraged that the veteran had to be sent to jail, but he defends the court’s decision, saying that the law has to be enforced no matter who the person is.
“I have a heart and in a small town we want to work with people,” said Calhoon, “but how long do you do it? I really didn’t like it that an elderly person had to spend the night in jail, but we have to enforce the laws.”
At one point, the city of Horton offered to do the necessary repairs to Knudson’s building for $10,000, but the 88-year-old still was unable to afford that. According to reports, people had complained that crumbling bricks from the building posed as a safety hazard.
“I don’t feel like I committed a crime,” said Knudson. “I can understand the city being concerned about vacant houses and other places in need of repair. But the crime didn’t fit the punishment in this case.”
Since the story was publicized, Knudson has reportedly received numerous offers from contractors to repair the damages for little to no cost.