Monday, February 27, 2012

Crime and Consequences? - Our Trip to Court

Today we went to court.  A teenager very close to my heart had to make an appearance for attempting to steal a beer from a local grocery store.  I took my two youngest boys so that they could see what court was like.  It was an interesting experience.

The first thing that made an impression was the 210 people on the docket for the morning.  210!  I know people make dumb mistakes, but 210!!!  This is a small county – it just goes to show that poor judgment is rampant.  I don’t know if this is a daily event or only a couple of times a week.  If it’s daily, that’s 1000 people who pass through this small court system for misdemeanor offences a week. 

The second thing we immediately noticed was the people.  There were all kinds there – young, old, well-dressed, tattooed, tall, short, disheveled. 

The boys were wide-eyed listening to the conversation happening right next to us.  A young man was talking about the last time he was locked up and who his cell mate was.  He then rattled off his current charges including possession, drug paraphernalia, etc.  He was speaking very openly as if this was an any-day event.  His expectation was to spend at least 45 days behind bars this time.  What struck me the most though was his attitude. 

I’ll do my 45 days and pay my fine, but…  They aren’t here to do anything for me, so I’m not doing anything for them.  I’ll do my time and get out.  F#$& them!

Really?  You Are A Criminal!!!  What do “they” owe you?  Seriously?

As we went into the courtroom and were seated, we noticed the carving on the back of the bench in front of us.  F#@! Cops.  F@#$ this place.  My youngest was most bothered by the attitudes of the people there including this inscription.  He immediately noted how they weren’t taking it seriously.  A good lesson for him, but sad.

Our final lesson was as court started.  All those wanting a court-appointed attorney were told to come forward.  A long line formed.  There goes our tax money to pay for other’s mistakes. 

I know just like the teen we were with that mistakes are made; goodness knows I've made my share, but consequences have to be the logical repercussion of mistakes.  Sometimes mistakes are accidental.  Breaking the law is not accidental – it’s willful and should be treated that way.  The point of repercussions is to dissuade.  Obviously, as evidenced by what we saw in the courtroom, for many, the consequences they receive are just a bump in the road.  Scary.

I would have liked to stay longer and see the proceedings, but our teen was pulled out by his attorney as they were getting started.  Our teen got a continuation as did his friend who was also charged.  They will find out shortly if they have to complete a class or community service before the next court date.  If they do, their cases will be dismissed.  I don’t want their permanent records affected, but, I can say, that a little community service or a class feels like a slap on the wrist rather than a consequence for them.  I hope they are both smart enough to learn their lesson before they become a regular like some of the others we saw today.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing about the trip to the courthouse with your family. I've been wanting to do something like this, but have yet to investigate where and when to take them -- now I'm inspired anew!


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!