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Juvenile Discussion of everything related to minors in the criminal justice system: juvenile detention, courts, rights, and family support.

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  #1  
Old 12-08-2014, 06:48 PM
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Default I will be sent away soon and need advice/Updated

I am a 16 year old girl who's bound for juvenile detention, and in desperate need of advice.

I got my driverís license shortly after my birthday. Two months later, I was driving down the road behind someone who was refusing to drive the speed limit. I knew I was in a no passing zone, but I was impatient. I thought it was safe and tried to overtake the other driver. In doing so, I steered my car into a head-on collision with a motorcyclist. His headlight was off, I didnít see him until it was too late, and he was killed instantly.

Iíve been charged with negligent homicide. Iím home on house arrest pending my next hearing. My sentence will be handed down then. From what my lawyer tells me, the prosecutor is gonna be pushing for the maximum, which would have me in juvenile detention until Iím 18. My lawyer, of course, will be arguing for a lighter sentence. No matter how this plays out, Iíll be looking at jail time, as the best we can hope for is a 30 day sentence.

Hereís where I need advice. I take full responsibility for what occurred and I know I need to pay for whatís been done. I also know that the prosecutor (according to my lawyer) is pushing for the max at the request of my victimís family. I know most people would beg for mercy if they were in my place, but I just canít find it in myself to do it. When it comes time for me to address the court, I want to let everyone know how sorry I am for all this and that I agree that the prosecutorís proposed sentence is reasonable. I donít want to be seen as trying to weasel out of anything. Iím willing to take whatever Iím given. Am I crazy for thinking and feeling this way? Everyone seems to be telling me that the lightest sentence is the way to go, but someone is dead because of me. I canít just act like it didnít happen or is no big deal. I hope someone reading this can understand and offer some guidance. I also hope that anyone who reads this wonít make the same mistake I did. Being stuck behind a slow driver is better than knowing that someone is dead because of you, trust me.
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Old 12-08-2014, 07:31 PM
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No, I don't think you're crazy at all. If your sentence will last only until you're 18, that is a deal IMHO. 16 year olds are generally impatient....and often have the "bad things only happen to other people, not to ME " school of thought. I hate this for you, your loved ones, for the victim and for his loved ones. Its just sad all the way around

I'm not familiar with Juvenile facilities, but I like to think that they are better than an adult jail. Use this time for education, self improvement, reflection....Welcome to PTO
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:27 PM
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I do not think you are in any way crazy, and I think it's quite mature of you to be taking responsibility for what happened. I'm sorry for this whole situation and everyone involved.

While I understand where you're coming from on wanting to not get out of this without repercussions, I think it's pretty clear already that you're not going to get out of this without repercussions. You caused someone's death, and that is staying with you, whether you're in jail or out of it. I am not in your position and can only offer my opinion, but everything I have seen does not lead me to believe that the criminal justice system is in any way a positive -- not for you, not for the family of the victim, not for anybody.

If you realize the weight of what you did, could you look into doing something else positive with your life, outside of sitting in jail? Volunteer opportunities perhaps or education that will let you go into a field that will make an actual positive impact. But, I don't believe in punishment for punishments' sake, I think working to turn your life into something positive could go a lot farther than just Being Punished.
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Old 12-09-2014, 05:36 AM
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I think what you need to focus on is making the rest of your life count for something positive to others as a way of showing you value the life that person will not be able to live out.
A few years is not harsh since someone will never make another holiday with their family,attend a loved ones wedding, watch children grow up or all the other things they will not be taking part in.
You can't undo what happened so you must try and make the best of the gift of life you have yet to live.
Sad how one wrong decision can have such life altering consequences since so many of us have made bad choices too.
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:08 AM
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Wow I'm sitting here crying for you what a harsh lesson to learn. Your not crazy in fact you seem extremely well grounded. I believe you'll get through this with the grace and courage you have shown by taking responsibility for whats happened. I hope you get some support and help to deal with your guilt.
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Old 12-11-2014, 01:56 AM
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I am so sorry that a short decision changed the very course of your life forever. No, you are not crazy for thinking the way that you are thinking. I am sending positive thoughts your way. I would process through it...even though you took someones life you are feeling the loss of that persons life as well as potentially looking at time for that loss. Counseling or therapy is a good place to be able to process and discuss some of the feelings you are having not only with the individuals death but in regards to your situation as well. I wish you the best of luck. I hope things go well for you.

I agree with some previous posters that researching and possibly finding a way to help others could be very beneficial.

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Old 12-11-2014, 05:00 AM
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Thank you for your post. I believe that you are right to stand up and say how you feel in court. It was a terrible decision that you made, I think you are facing the fact well, and you must go on best as you can.

Speak sincerely, and ask for forgiveness. It was an accident. It won't help you more in the long run to be locked up longer if you don't need to be. I know from experiencing it from the victim's family's side.

My ex-husband was turned into a quadriplegic by a driver who didn't look before she pulled out in front of him and the accident broke his neck. He later died in hospice. This happened last July, 2013. The driver was an 18 year old girl who was not criminally prosecuted. She walked away with no consequences other than a careless driving ticket. I did not understand at the time, how that could be possible, but that was according to the law here in Florida.

Our daughter took it very hard to lose her father, it took her almost a year to recover. The driver never apologized, or even tried to contact us. I wonder sometimes about her, and if it damaged her life to not try to make amends for her stupid driving error.

I think that when you go to court, you can and should say you are sorry for what happened. But also ask for a minimal sentence since locking you up won't really change anything for the family. The laws are strange, and not all outcomes are deserved or undeserved.

The important thing is that you lead your life constructively from now on, I believe you will. Use whatever time you are sentenced to and educate yourself to make a positive change in the world with the rest of your life. Forgive yourself. Go on. Live your life. Make a difference.
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Old 12-11-2014, 12:44 PM
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My apologies to everyone who's posted for not responding sooner. Things have been crazy; had a lot to get done in preparation for my hearing, which was this morning. I appreciate all the good advice and would like to provide everyone with an update on what's been happening.

I just got back from my hearing and it was emotional, to say the least. I've never been so overcome with guilt and nerves in my entire life. I had an opportunity to apologize to my victim's family, which I'm extremely grateful for. I feel a lot better now that I've had a chance to do that. I think it may have been helpful for them to hear it too. I hope so. They seemed less upset once they saw how upset I've been since this happened.

My sentence begins on Saturday, which means I have one more day of freedom before I have to surrender myself to the local juvenile hall, where I'll be serving my time. I'm glad that's where I'll be. If I'd been sent to the Ware Youth Center, my parents and sister wouldn't be able to visit much.

My sentence is for 9 months. The judge was actually lenient in that he's allowing me time away from the hall on weekdays for regular school. He saw that I've been a really good student and didn't want to "derail" my chances of getting into college, as it'll be tough enough with this conviction. I have to return in the evenings though to be locked up til the next morning, when I'm allowed out again. I also have to stay in the hall 24 hrs a day on weekends, holidays, and summer break. Basically, anytime school's out I have to be there.

I'm still feeling nervous because I've never been locked up and don't know what to expect, but I'm also happy because my victim's family seemed to feel that justice had been done. I now think, more than anything, they just wanted a sincere apology, which they got.

Once this is all over, I plan on taking the advice that several of you offered. I want to speak to others about my ordeal in the hope they won't be as careless as I was. I'll have a PO once I'm released; maybe she'll be able to help me figure out how best to go about doing this.

Sorry, but I gotta go. I haven't eaten since last night (was too nervous to eat breakfast) and if I don't get food soon, I'm gonna faint. But I just had to let everyone know how things went first. And again, I appreciate everyone's advice and concern. Thank you so much.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyBlu View Post
Thank you for your post. I believe that you are right to stand up and say how you feel in court. It was a terrible decision that you made, I think you are facing the fact well, and you must go on best as you can.

Speak sincerely, and ask for forgiveness. It was an accident. It won't help you more in the long run to be locked up longer if you don't need to be. I know from experiencing it from the victim's family's side.

My ex-husband was turned into a quadriplegic by a driver who didn't look before she pulled out in front of him and the accident broke his neck. He later died in hospice. This happened last July, 2013. The driver was an 18 year old girl who was not criminally prosecuted. She walked away with no consequences other than a careless driving ticket. I did not understand at the time, how that could be possible, but that was according to the law here in Florida.

Our daughter took it very hard to lose her father, it took her almost a year to recover. The driver never apologized, or even tried to contact us. I wonder sometimes about her, and if it damaged her life to not try to make amends for her stupid driving error.

I think that when you go to court, you can and should say you are sorry for what happened. But also ask for a minimal sentence since locking you up won't really change anything for the family. The laws are strange, and not all outcomes are deserved or undeserved.

The important thing is that you lead your life constructively from now on, I believe you will. Use whatever time you are sentenced to and educate yourself to make a positive change in the world with the rest of your life. Forgive yourself. Go on. Live your life. Make a difference.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It really helps others to see both perspectives, on both ends there is suffering, pain, and loss.

I wish that that person could have at least expressed their apology. I had three friends die in a car accident due to the driver being drunk. He said, "No amount of saying I'm sorry could ever bring my friends back" but i think it helps. It helps those who are suffering know that you understand you made a choice that had dire consequences, it helps those who just had a loss that you understand that there was a loss there. This is such a difficult subject. I wish all of you the best.



As for juvenile hall...It's not going to be a place of comfort that's for sure however I'm glad that the judge was lenient and you will be able to attend school regularly. If you can bring books, read. Read a lot. Write in a journal if you can. Do whatever it is that you need to do to promote healthy coping habits. Take this time and this experience and figure out how you would like to proceed with your life from here in a positive manner. Hugs! I can't imagine being in your position I truly empathize for you and the family the lost a loved one. I wish only the best for all of you.

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Old 12-11-2014, 04:53 PM
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As for juvenile hall...It's not going to be a place of comfort that's for sure however I'm glad that the judge was lenient and you will be able to attend school regularly. If you can bring books, read. Read a lot. Write in a journal if you can. Do whatever it is that you need to do to promote healthy coping habits. Take this time and this experience and figure out how you would like to proceed with your life from here in a positive manner. Hugs! I can't imagine being in your position I truly empathize for you and the family the lost a loved one. I wish only the best for all of you.
I definitely plan to do a lot of reading. I wonder if there'll be a library? I hadn't considered journaling, but now I'm thinking I may just do that. Thank you for the idea and for your well wishes!
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Old 12-11-2014, 11:57 PM
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To Cutepixie:

I am sorry for the loss of your friends. Thank you for sharing. Death is so difficult, and when it is sudden and unexpected, it is most agonizing for all involved.

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Old 12-11-2014, 04:49 PM
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Thank you for your post. I believe that you are right to stand up and say how you feel in court. It was a terrible decision that you made, I think you are facing the fact well, and you must go on best as you can.

Speak sincerely, and ask for forgiveness. It was an accident. It won't help you more in the long run to be locked up longer if you don't need to be. I know from experiencing it from the victim's family's side.

My ex-husband was turned into a quadriplegic by a driver who didn't look before she pulled out in front of him and the accident broke his neck. He later died in hospice. This happened last July, 2013. The driver was an 18 year old girl who was not criminally prosecuted. She walked away with no consequences other than a careless driving ticket. I did not understand at the time, how that could be possible, but that was according to the law here in Florida.

Our daughter took it very hard to lose her father, it took her almost a year to recover. The driver never apologized, or even tried to contact us. I wonder sometimes about her, and if it damaged her life to not try to make amends for her stupid driving error.

I think that when you go to court, you can and should say you are sorry for what happened. But also ask for a minimal sentence since locking you up won't really change anything for the family. The laws are strange, and not all outcomes are deserved or undeserved.

The important thing is that you lead your life constructively from now on, I believe you will. Use whatever time you are sentenced to and educate yourself to make a positive change in the world with the rest of your life. Forgive yourself. Go on. Live your life. Make a difference.
I'm so sorry for your loss. I too wish the driver would have apologized. If you don't mind my asking, what was the legal reason for the failure to prosecute?
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Old 12-11-2014, 11:49 PM
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I'm so sorry for your loss. I too wish the driver would have apologized. If you don't mind my asking, what was the legal reason for the failure to prosecute?
Thank you for your good wishes.

The young driver was not intoxicated or on drugs. If she had been, she would have been criminally prosecuted. The fact that she was totally sober made it something that wasn't prosecuted. The investigating officer actually came to the hospital to tell us that there would be no case against her. He also told us that the police usually advice the driver not to contact the family of the victim, although we said we would prefer she contact us, I have no idea if he ever passed that on to her. I do hope that she forgave herself, and that you will forgive yourself for your accident.

Good luck with your sentence, your probation afterwards, and your schooling. Yes, do study well and get into college. I am old enough to be your grandmother, and never started college till 5 years ago. I will graduate next Spring with a BS in Paralegalism. You can get into college, and should plan to.
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Old 12-12-2014, 06:12 PM
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Thank you for your good wishes.

The young driver was not intoxicated or on drugs. If she had been, she would have been criminally prosecuted. The fact that she was totally sober made it something that wasn't prosecuted. The investigating officer actually came to the hospital to tell us that there would be no case against her. He also told us that the police usually advice the driver not to contact the family of the victim, although we said we would prefer she contact us, I have no idea if he ever passed that on to her. I do hope that she forgave herself, and that you will forgive yourself for your accident.

Good luck with your sentence, your probation afterwards, and your schooling. Yes, do study well and get into college. I am old enough to be your grandmother, and never started college till 5 years ago. I will graduate next Spring with a BS in Paralegalism. You can get into college, and should plan to.
I see what you mean about Florida law being strange. The same act, if she'd been intoxicated, would've resulted in prosecution but carelessness doesn't count? Again, I'm so sorry you had to go through that.

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! I know you must be looking forward to that.

I wanted to post one last time before the weekend starts as I won't have time in the morning. I'm going to bed soon so I can wake up at 4 am, as I have to report to intake by 6. I think it's so when they release me at 6 am (to catch the city bus to school) on Monday, I will have served two full days. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you and everyone else here again for listening and for your advice. I'm nervous about my first day. I called ahead and found out they do allow paperback books, so I'm bringing one and a magazine so I'll have something to distract myself with if I start getting really stressed. I'll try to post again next week to let everyone know how things are going. Again, I appreciate you guys so much!
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Old 12-11-2014, 01:31 PM
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In all my years of dealing with people going to prison I can easily say I think you're one of the most sincere and remorseful people I've dealt with.

I understand all too well how catastrophic this has been for you and especially for the family of the victim, but you managed to admit your guilt, accept your punishment without once trying to pass the blame.

Just my thoughts, but I think with your realistic outlook and intelligence you'll somehow move forward in life and make the best of it. I strongly believe you've been given a 2nd chance and that you'll take that chance and make the best of it.
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:16 PM
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Good luck. Keep us posted.
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Old 12-13-2014, 03:05 AM
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Default Aww, this was so sad

I cried reading this whole thread. My condolences to those who have lost someone at the hands of someone else. To DetentionBound, I pray that you are able to stay positive and move forward with your goals after your sentence. Going to college will be a great idea like you, and others mentioned. I lost a friend in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else. It definitely means a lot to friends and family to hear, "I'm sorry." I'll be checking back on this post to see your progress. Wish you the very best.
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Old 12-13-2014, 03:53 PM
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Hey, you never told us - did you plead with the court for the minimum? Or did you stick to your guns and say that you deserved everything they wanted to give you?

either way, I'm glad you felt the need to say you deserved it - that's called compassion and empathy, and both are marks of true maturity.

Journal, by all means. You seem to express yourself well with words, but if you didn't you could always draw your journal, or do whatever else expresses your thoughts and feelings as best as you can. It's a great way of processing stuff.

While you're in, you might want to volunteer for any victim impact program you can. This could give your victim's parents the opportunity to confront you about their loss. It can be very therapeutic for them, and it will give you an idea of the person who died. Once you know more about him, it'll be easier to find methods for dealing with your guilty feelings. You'll be able to donate to charities that he would have gotten behind once you're old enough to pick your career. In that way, you can live and work for both yourself and your victim.

Look into A.B.A.T.E. in your state - it deals with motorcycle education and does the "Motorcycles are everywhere" campaign. They might be able to hook you up for speaking when you get to that point.

Fwiw, I'm glad you're handling this the way you are. It's still going to be difficult. I'm glad you're being allowed to finish your education, and hope you're still looking towards college and a career - that's the benefit of being adjudicated delinquent instead of as an adult - the full range of careers are open to you. In this sense, this really is a second chance, albeit, a bit lame, what with having to spend all your free time incarcerated in a juvey facility.

I do hope you take advantage of any and all counseling that's available at your facility. When everything settles, it's still hard to get your mind and your soul around the fact that you took a life. It's going to take a while for you to fully process that one, but the more you actively work on it, the better you'll be as a result. If you don't process it in a healthy way, it will eat at you and make the rest of life more difficult.

Just for an FYI - my older brother did something similar. His victim was on a moped and his victim survived. Since that time, he's been in and out of prison more times than you can shake a stick at - lots of drugs, lots of violence. But, he did not think he did anything wrong - and that's a huge difference between you and him.

My grandmother, however, was the passenger in a car that was hit by a 17 year old being impatient. She died, and my father was the driver and had to watch her die. And yes, saying "I'm sorry" is very important.

What I'm getting at is that I understand this from two different perspectives. From my practice, I understand it from a third perspective as I had to deal with a civil suit resulting from an impatient teen auto accident. While that girl's victim, my client, survived but with long term injuries (she's currently looking forward to holding her first grandchild in her wheel chair). The 17 year old who hit her was eaten up by guilt and wound up taking her own life.

Anyway, I'm just trying to both compliment you on your maturity, but to caution you as well. Now that the case is over, the whole thing - accident through to the emotional catharsis of sentencing - needs to be processed. Look into restorative justice and get into a bit of therapy as nobody can work this out on their own.
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Old 12-13-2014, 04:42 PM
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Yes, this is an emotional thread. Very hard to read without crying. I cried. Thank you all for posting. It helps to put things into perspective. I am especially thankful right this minute that my angry moments of the past didn't result in any accidents. Oh, the arguments that happened in the car with my ex-husband.... what was I thinking at the time? Or the impatience and rash actions because I was late? I know I will be a better driver from now on. New Years Resolution Number 1.
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Old 12-14-2014, 12:24 PM
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DB.
I am so sorry for everyone involved.
I want to take a slightly different approach to this situation. By that I mean I want to support YOU.
Yes. You made a mistake. A very large one.
You own that. You messed up. Big time.
BUT
and yes there is a But.
You are young and were not experienced about driving. Give your self a break on that.
You cant take it back (you know this) And you cant change what happened now (even tho Im sure you wish you could)
It happened.
Im not going to say get over it.
But I will say its ok to cut yourself a break.
You have taken responsibility for your actions. You are going to carry this for the rest of your life. Everyone makes mistakes and fortunately most dont end up with someone dying as a result.

I guess what I really want to relay is, use this horrible experience in as positive a way as you can. Huge huge hurdle. But not the whole of what you are about. You sound like a very remorseful young lady.

As I was reading this, it reminded me of someone else that everyone knows about who had a similar accident (resulting in a death)
Laura Bush.
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  #21  
Old 12-16-2014, 04:19 PM
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Wow, there's so much to say, but I have to keep this short. Mom will be home at 5 to give me a ride back over to juvie and I have some studying I need to get in while I'm waiting. But I wanted to give everyone a quick update as I might not be able to post again this week and Christmas break begins on Saturday.

Yourself: I did not ask the judge for leniency. When it was my time to speak, I just told everyone how sorry I was for the life I've taken and for all the pain I've caused and that I wish I could undo it all. When it came time to pronounce my sentence, the judge remarked that I was the first person to appear before him, facing such a heavy charge, who didn't plead for leniency. He said he was glad to see I was willing to take responsibility for my actions.

These past few days have been hard, as I'm sure you can all imagine. On Friday, before I surrendered myself, I saw my cousin and her four year old daughter, whom I babysit sometimes. I had to tell her I won't be seeing her for several months. It hurt so much to break her heart like that, as she loves seeing me. Explaining why was just as hard. How do you explain something like this to a four year old? She doesn't know about the accident, so I told her I have to go to this place called juvie because of some trouble I got into, that it's like day care for big kids except we don't get to go home at the end of the day. That seemed to satisfy her curiosity, for now. I know one day I'll have to tell her everything.

I haven't gotten much sleep over the past few nights. It seems like I'm always waking up to weird noises or someone crying. Can't say I haven't felt like crying myself, to be honest. I've been relying on the soda machines at school to give me enough energy to make it through the day.

My sister, who's two years older and in college, came to visit me on Sunday. It was really hard on her, seeing me in my jail clothes with shackles on my ankles. I easily spent more time comforting her than she did comforting me. I've hurt my family as much as I've hurt the family of my victim and this visit really drove that home. I spent the rest of the day in a funk. I was glad when Monday finally rolled around so I'd have school to distract me.

I know several of you have recommended that I seek counseling and I plan to. I never thought I'd be able to do this alone, but now I realize I need more support than I thought I'd need.

I gotta run. I wish I had more time. Please keep me in your prayers!
  #22  
Old 12-16-2014, 09:29 PM
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Thanks for posting. I'm glad you stuck by your guns and didn't plead for leniency. Good on you to stick with your feelings about it, but to mitigate what you said so as to not ask for more. Sounds like you got right to the heart of the matter and it was a good thing.

Yeah, the victim list doesn't stop with the victim's family, and that's something that's hard to get around sometimes. Glad you had the maturity to be there for your sister. It sucks seeing a sibling locked up, in shackles, and to go through security to see him/her. I mean, in my case, he's my bro, and seeing him in a context where society feels the need to protect me from him really sucked. Keep talking with her.

With kids, you explain as necessary. At 4, telling them you're in adult time out is about all they can process, but yeah, at some point you may wind up talking about it with your little cousin. You might not. It's all contextual, and if it's relevant, you'll figure it out.

Keep up the good work, and yeah, get and take all the support you can. Always makes lifting your burdens a little easier. So will helping others when you get to that point.
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  #23  
Old 12-20-2014, 01:49 AM
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Hope you keep us posted, DB, on how you are doing. Yourself: What do you mean by restorative justice?
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Old 12-22-2014, 12:18 PM
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  #25  
Old 01-05-2015, 04:32 PM
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Christmas break is over and Iím back in school. Never thought Iíd be so thankful to be outside and breathing fresh air. Wanted to give everyone an update on things.

The past 2 weeks+ have had their ups and downs.

Ups:

Both my parents and sister came to visit on Christmas. I was so grateful that they all chose to see me instead of the rest of the family that I cried; I couldnít help it. I wanted to hug them so badly, but we arenít allowed to touch during visitation.

My favorite teacher sent me a Christmas card. She wanted to let me know she was thinking of me and that she hopes Iím safe. I was really touched and made sure to send a letter in reply, thanking her.

Iíve been sleeping better lately. I think Iíve finally gotten used to the typical nighttime noises, and the cold. Iíve also been reading a lot lately to keep myself occupied. The common area of our pod has two bookshelves worth of books and Iím trying to get through as many as possible.

I attended my first counseling session on the Tuesday before Christmas. The rules of the detention center require that residents held for 72 consecutive hours or longer must be screened for suicidal tendencies, etc., so I didnít need to request it. It definitely felt good to unload all the emotion Iíd been carrying around inside me. I think it will be helpful having someone here I can feel safe opening up to.

Downs:

I received a letter from my boyfriend on Christmas Eve in which he dumped me. I knew he was getting tired of having a girlfriend he could only see at school. Guess I canít really blame him. Still, it hurt. I also wish he would have thought enough of me to end our relationship in person and not through the mail.

While school was out, I had to attend classes on-site and they were very remedial, to say the least. I guess thatís to be expected, but I admit I was so bored that I nodded off once and received four hours isolation as a result.

Yourself: Thereís something Iíve been meaning to ask. What are the odds that someone with a negligent homicide conviction would be accepted into law school? Iíve thought about studying law someday, but I have a feeling that dream is now smoke. Perhaps I could train to be a paralegal instead. How hard would it be, in your opinion, for anyone with a criminal record to find employment in any capacity at a law firm?

I decided to look into victim impact panels like you suggested. The only one around here, far as anyone is aware, is the kind put on by MADD where family members of DWI victims talk to people arrested for drunk driving about their experiences. I feel disappointed. Even though it would be scary to face his family again, maybe it would be helpful for both them and me.
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