[note: Ingrid handed me her laptop which goes to work with her every day and ordered: “blog.” Right, because that’s how it works…. so here is the first thing that came to mind which won’t take much time to write about since we’re off on errands soon]
I’m not really sure how I feel about our criminal justice system. I mean, it’s mostly fine, and it’s better than we would have in other countries. But I have late been experiencing the other side of the law. Two of my friends have felons on their records. One is this guy (G) who I visit in prison. He has a felon for dealing ice. He was 21 when he got picked up in that backwater hotel coming in from East Texas with 13grand in cash that never even made the police report (two cops got real lucky…) The other is a friend who I was introduced to by a mutual frind and whom I adore. We talked about her felon recently and how she can’t get a job anywhere. “They don’t look too well on felony theft, you know? But it’s okay. I’ll be okay. But who the hell’s gonna hire me?” That felon is going to be on her record forever, for something she did under peer pressure–though she’s always willing to take responsibility for it (“I shoulda said no, I knew that, but, well, it wasn’t so easy in the moment”).
G can get his felons taken off his record if he joins the military after he gets out of prison this November. They’ll wipe his record clean, especially because his felony is a nonviolent crime. I don’t know about my other friend, she’s pretty sure there’s nothing to be done about it. But it’s so frustrating to me. I know people have to be punished, and I know that we have to keep a record of wrongs somehow. But it’s unfortunate that my friends can’t do any amount of community service or something to get those felons removed from their past.
I think the other part that bothers me is that I know these two kids. G is 28 now but he’s been in prison since he was 21, and he was partying with family from the age of 12. The kid didn’t have a chance. And for crying outloud, he’s got a good heart. He’s repentant. He’s actually thankful he got picked up because with the stuff he was dealing he might be dead at this point…
She is 19 now, I think she was just barely 18 when she went on that streak of vandalism and theft with an older friend who she doesn’t talk to now. She’s screwed for life. But she’s a good little one. I know why she did it. Her home life is incredibly messed up. I recently heard a story that had something to do with going through a window thanks to her father, who her brother than proceeded to attack on her behalf. “Yeah, some shit went down. But that’s, like, life you know?” I wanted to hug her. It isn’t life. It isn’t supposed to be like that, I wanted to say. She just wants someone to love her and tell her she has worth. That’s what happened those nights in Highlands Ranch and Douglas County. Someone said they loved her and she was willing to go to the mat for them.
But the justice system can’t know these people as I do.
They don’t know that the man at the table across from G and I two weeks ago bought us snacks that were delivered by his teenage daughter. They don’t know that man was set up by a corrupt brother and now he’s locked up in this camp, away from his cute daughter who’s been passed among family members now but still manages to have that wickedly precious smile when she handed us food.
They don’t know that my friend texts me and asks how I’m doing, and is concerned about me. They don’t know that she’d do anything for any one of us. They don’t know about the childish giggles while the boys are talking about video games and we are mocking them. They don’t know about the water bed with dinosaur blankets, because she’s just a lost and broken little child.
They don’t know that G is sorry for what he’s done. They don’t know he’s anxious for when he gets out. They don’t know that G swears he’ll never do it again, just because he can’t stand the thought of his momma crying anymore when he talks to her on the phone. They don’t know that he’s a man with a plan so he can avoid this place except to someday come back on his motorbike and drive the winding mountain roads.
I think that somehow, there should be a way for felons to be removed. It sounds childish, but it just isn’t fair. You don’t know my friends. You don’t know their hearts. And I just don’t think they have done anything to earn them the misery of having that stupid remark on their record for their entire lives which have hardly even begun.
ps. not all my friends have criminal records…. but, before you get angry (or worried about my safety), Jesus hung out with con artists and hookers.