Two sentenced to prison for torching Boy Scout hall

August 29, 2012

An Arroyo Grande teen and a Creston man were sentenced to Wasco State Prison Monday for torching a historic Boy Scout meeting hall and Japanese Cultural Center in Arroyo Grande in 2011

Both teens when they set the fire, Brian Ray Bellrose, 17, and Joseph Pelletier, 20, were tried as adults.

San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge John Trice sentenced Bellrose to seven years and eight months and Pelletier to five years in prison. Both defendants apologized and promised to lead better lives.

While in custody, Bellrose – a former Arroyo Grande High School student – finished high school and completed an anger management course.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

These “youths” would have been better off JOINING the scouts! Now, their only hope is repentance (which is rarely encouraged in this society).

I don’t understand how someone under the age can be tried as an adult.

Maybe we could prevent a life of crime by giving stricter punishment based on the severity of the crime, and not the age of the perpetrator. Little slaps on the wrist only seem to condone criminal activity, not prevent it.

I agree that “slaps on the wrist” don’t do much to deter criminals but does putting them in an institution where they get a course in advanced criminal technique along with brutalized conditioning help either?

If we are going to “put people away” for a long time, it should be until they are no longer a threat to society. For some, that may not be long. For others it may never come. Who determines which one is applicable to a specific individual?

I think that, in the long run, we would be better off with a short-medium term institutionalization with heavy supervision and counseling. It would not be perfect and there would still be re-offenders but if the ratio of ex-cons leading productive lives improved even a moderate amount, we would all be better off.

One big problem comes with the cost. Upfront, heavier supervision and counseling would more than double the current cost of imprisoning people. Some of that would be recovered with shorter sentences but most would not be recovered until (& unless) the rate of repeat offenders dropped as a result. That is probably not politically/financially realistic at this point.

Perhaps the alternative would be to return some leeway for judges who hear the cases to determine the sentences. Again, they are imperfect people and will make mistakes but, for the most part, their experience gives them above average ability to get the judgment correct.

I think we waste too much money on criminals as it is. I said a stricter punishment, I am not saying we should “put people away” for a long time.

Our country has the highest inmate population in the world. The amount of taxes we spend on prisons? 6 times MORE than education!

Maybe the U.S.doesn’t know best when it comes to punishing criminals. The rest of the world seems to do a better job, and I think it’s time we learn from them.

Every illegal alien is a criminal and we reward them with free food, housing, education and health care. Maybe we have a problem because often enough crime DOES pay!

It is the severity of the crime, that carries with it a compounded sentence.

Arson, bombings, indiscriminate poison attacks are crimes against civilization, as well as against individuals that may be harmed.

It is not just the property damage…it is firefighters and other that put themselves at great bodily risk.

Arson is an adult crime, and deserves to be prosecuted as such.

Another thing, firebugs often continue unless their ways are aborted.

Hopefully, these young men can realize their errors and reform, and not become recidivist; although the statistics are not in their or our favor.

You may excellent points. Arson is one of the most difficult crimes to prosecute. This is a lengthy sentence and while these young men may learn bad habits in prison, we know they have already learned quite a few on their own.

Wow – an adult prison – am I wrong to worry about a 16 year old boy going to an adult prison? Tried as adults is one thing, but wouldn’t justice be served if he were sent to a juvinile facility?

I thought the same thing but then it dawned on me that if he were a first time offender, I seriously doubt that he would have been dealt with so harshly. I suspect that this kid has already received a few slaps on the wrist and it didn’t work. I seriously doubt that he would have been tried as an adult or received a 7 year sentence for a first offense even an offense as serious as arson as no one was injured unless he had already been given chances to straighten up in the past.

I’m not 100% certain but I think that a juvenile has to be released at 18 and the judge and DA obviously didn’t think a year in “juvi” hall was going to cut it with him.

I dont understand ” He completed an anger management program ” would this have stoped Him from torching the building.? He was tried and sentenced as an adult………………… goodbye for a while. Think of the education He’ll get where He’s going.

” Think of the education He’ll get where He’s going.”

I don’t want to think about that… You DO know what they make of the young men that go there…Right??? He’ll be made the “property” of one of the men and “farmed out” to others who want a sweet young thing and have the price…

He’ll get an education – that’s for sure…