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  #1  
Old 08-07-2018, 12:05 AM
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Unhappy Sons Sentencing coming up in 2 weeks how to handle before and after?

Hi All PWCP peeps,

My son will be sentenced in 2 weeks. As his mother I need to write a letter to

the judge. I know I need to speak from my heart.....my broken heart. We

tried everything to help him, he was like mercury running thru my fingers.

First of all I would like advice on what to say in my letter to make the most

impact. Second, how to handle myself in court and the days up to court.

I am really struggling, I myself deal with depression and anxiety. It feels like

it has amplified 10 fold. I am trying my best to be positive and to take

care of myself, but quite frankly I am a mess. My son is doing well.

although he has said that he is nervous, but overall he has a great outlook.

He took a plea deal and will get anywhere from 7-21 years. Its his first

offense as an adult so we are hoping for a lighter sentence. I appreciate

being able to come here and vent and ask for help. I feel so strange and

like a member of a strange club. The new normal so to speak. Just hoping

for the best. Thank you
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:21 AM
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There are a number of PTO threads about presentencing letters to the judge. Here's a link to one of them.
http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=699723
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Old 08-07-2018, 11:24 AM
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thank you so much!
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:40 PM
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I am so sorry you are in this situation. I can so relate. I had to write that letter about 2 months ago. My son is going to be sentenced in about a month. Our lawyer gave us tips on what to write and words NOT to use. One word he highly said NOT to use was MISTAKE. He said the judge doesn't like it when it's said the defendant or others say they made a mistake. I let the judge know that I will always love my son but hate the decisions he made. I also said I was heartbroken, numb, angry and felt like a failure as a mother. All these are true feelings I am feeling. I would just let the judge know how you feel. Don't sugar coat anything. Good luck with that letter and I hope he gets the shortest sentence and at a location where he will be safe and get the help he needs to understand the decisions he made.
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Old 08-09-2018, 06:52 AM
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So sorry you are dealing with this. My son was sentenced 2 weeks ago and it took me 3 months to finish my letter to the judge. I would definitely advise that you acknowledge his responsibility and don’t make excuses for his bad choices. Be honest about your emotional state and you are allowed to be angry and sad, but that you are also supporting your son and will help guide him to make better choices. If there are any options for educations or programs he can take, I would ask the judge to consider those as well as placing him close to home so your family can start mending and your son will have the positive support he needs. The letters do matter more then they think. My sons sentencing range was 5 to 40 years federal with minimum being 5 years period. His guideline range was 7.25-9 with a criminal history. The judge sentenced him to 6 years federal and 4 years supervised after release. Without the letters I don’t think would have been the case. Get as many as you can and humanize your son by telling the good things he’s done in his life.
Good luck to you!
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Old 08-09-2018, 06:35 PM
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How to Handle Yourself at a Loved One's Sentencing; A Brief Primer

Start with good self care in the weeks before. Eat properly, exercise (get those endorphins flowing), go to bed at the same time every night.

Journal about the whole situation. Get into your hopes and fears about what will happen once you have a definitive sentence and a maximum out date. If you are angry, deal with it. If you are afraid, deal with it. Journaling is a great way of getting all of those feelings out. It’s also a good way of dealing with your sense of sadness, regret, shame, and responsibility that most parents have when it comes to a child who is going to do serious time.

write your letter and organize letter writing by others (if you’re the kind of person who likes that sort of busy work).

If you haven’t been to court, go. Go before sentencing so you know what the courtroom looks like, what going through security feels like, and where the bathrooms are located. Know that you should sit behind your loved one (assuming you are there in support of him) as this is a visual clue of support to the judge. If you support the prosecution, sit behind the prosecutor. If you’ve never spoken to the victim before (if any), this is NOT the time to sit next to them or to start a dialogue.

Make sure you have the entire day off work. Seriously - sentencing may take a brief amount of time, but it is emotionally very taxing. You need the time.

Get a friend to help you with the day of sentencing. Have that friend drive and sit with you. It is good to have a rock of a friend to tend to your emotional needs and hold your hand and help you stay grounded.

Before sentencing, practice some grounding exercises. Deep breathing at a minimum will help you when the world seems to be spinning out of control.

I suggest taking something for an acidic stomach before court. Put a light breakfast in your stomach so that there is something there. Don’t drink a ton of coffee or other fluid that morning or your bladder will give you trouble.

Dress comfortably. Dress like you would dress to go to a wedding, but without an excess of jewelry, make-up, or fuss. Just dress nice, but comfortable since you do not know how long you will be there. If you are going to speak on his behalf or as a victim, wear clothes that you are familiar with. If you dont normally wear heels, dont wear heels. If you are a skirt wearer, wear a skirt. Pick clothes from your wardrobe that help you feel confident and protected. I have a first day of trial suit that I always wear for the first day of trial. It helps me prepare, and helps me to feel confident and in control. Because I always wear it the first day of trial, it is familiar. It’s not too tight, I dont find myself pulling at the blouse to keep it tucked in, and I don’t fidget in it because its itchy or feels odd.

Try to dress in layers. You never know how hot or how cold a courtroom will be. Being able to take clothes off to stay comfortable and not sweat is very helpful.

Frisk yourself before going into the courthouse. Make sure you’re not taking a weapon or anything that can be interpreted as a weapon with you (fingernail clippers included). Leave your cellphone at home. If you can’t make sure your friend reminds you to put it on silent when you enter the courtroom. Food and drink won’t be allowed in the courtroom, but generally are allowed in the courthouse.

Be prepared for a bunch of hurry up and wait. Be prepared for the prosecutor to portray your son as the most foul human being ever to have existed. Bite your tongue. Words are wind. All it is is an interpretation of his history that best benefits a heavy sentence. Your side will get to speak as well and humanize him. Don’t try to refute the Prosecution. Stick to your script.

Be his mother in court. Again, sit behind him to show support for him. Don’t be surprised if you are not allowed to touch him even though he’s a few feet away from you. You can whisper talk with him before the judge comes in. You may be able to get a hug from him at the end, before he’s taken away - ask his attorney to ask for permission for a hug.

After sentencing, take your time going home. Find a place where you can have a cup of coffee or something and start the process of decompressing and processing all that happened. Talk with your friend. Journal. Get into comfy clothes and binge some NetFlix. It’s allowed - it’s a heavy, heavy day, a heavy, heavy experience. If you have close friends and family, let them take care of you. Join in your misery as shared sorrow is decreased.

And remember to breathe.
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  #7  
Old 08-26-2018, 02:08 PM
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Pamelaspeach,

All the advice you've been given here is good, especially the response from Yourself.

I would like to back up a few of her suggestions from my own experience. When she says take someone - a friend who is a rock of support- that's not just a "suggestion", that's an absolute MUST. Do NOT be alone. When my son was sentenced 4 years ago, I made the mistake of driving alone to the courthouse. My ex and his parents were there, and his wife, and I had many friends who were present in the courtroom, but it wasn't enough. I ended up dropping my son's best friend off at home, (he drove my car to his house).

My son got 20-40 years. No one was hurt, and it was a first time he was in trouble with the law. He was 19 years old. What made it worse, was my ex husband's wife was standing with me outside the courthouse after it was over, and I was crying. She had just lost her sister. She looked at me and yelled, "At least you still have him!" I felt like I was being scolded for crying and feeling devastated. How dare I cry about my son when she had just lost her sister....

A few weeks later, we had the Sentencing Reconsideration. A good friend came with me, held my hand in the courtroom, and did not leave my side all day. I had prepared to read a letter to the Judge on the stand. Afterward, the prosecution asked me some awful questions, saying I had prematurely "ended" a visit with my son while he was in county. That never happened, and I said so. They embellished any little thing, and presented it as the truth. They even staged a crying fit with the victim's sister, later I heard someone say her family egged her on by saying, "Cry louder so the judge can hear you." Ultimately, 5-10 years were knocked off the original sentence, because he was illegally sentenced the first time. It is now 15-30 years, still a very long sentence.

It was an awful day, BUT I will say having a friend there who drove me, and stayed with me until that evening, made ALL the difference. I suffer from depression and anxiety too, and just having someone physically there made it much more bearable.

Also, I agree with the comments on self care. That is a must. Eat as healthy as you can, even if you have to ask someone to prepare a meal for you, if you find you don't want to cook. Exercise, even walking, does curtail the effects of stress on the body. Meditation is good too. You don't realize how much stress takes a toll not only mentally but physically. And being in the courtroom when your child is being sentenced has to be one of the worst things, besides a death, that you can go through.

If your child is like mine, they will feel badly for what you are going through. Try to minimize the damage by taking care of yourself, so you can show them you are strong, and capable of taking care of yourself, even if it means you lean on others. We're here to support each other, no one is meant to go it alone.

As for the letter, read examples of letters online, there are a few sites that have that advice. I was told never to mention that no one was hurt.....even though it was true! I lost my home in this whole process, and most of my belongings in it. I was advised not to comment on that, so I didn't. Run the letter by the attorney representing your son, or the public defender before you submit it.

This is a great site and you'll find lots of support and information here. Don't hesitate to reach out to parents who have been through what you're facing. I'm glad you're asking questions. Take care of yourself, you will make it through this.

Tatonkawia
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  #8  
Old 08-27-2018, 09:04 AM
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For me sentencing day was the hardest ever. Our son took a plea and we knew he would get 8.5 years and have truth in sentencing laws invoked.

My husband and I sat in the courtroom with many other people involving many other cases. It was horrendous - our son has a violent crime and was the sentenced that day to the most time. When he was called before the judge and asked if he understood and agreed to the plea, his voice was strong. When the gavel came down, I just started sobbing and sobbing. Our lawyer led us to a private room where I could get my act together before going outside to face the media - we didn't say anything or acknowledge them in any way - just went straight to the car and drove away.

For both of us, it was a very sad sad day.

We are now 5 years into this journey with 2 years, 5 months left (he had an 85% sentence) and it has been very very hard. We got used to it and I try to help the other newbies out at the prison - I always have extra clothes in my trunk so that I can help someone out who isn't dressed appropriately for the visit and I always carry an extra $5 bill into the visiting room so I can help out if someone doesn't have the right denomination in order to buy the vending card.

In a small way it helps and makes this sentence seem somewhat more bearable.

I'm truly sorry you are going thru this...
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  #9  
Old 08-28-2018, 12:14 AM
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Default The week after sentencing

Well, it has been a week. My son was sentenced to 16 years with parole optional. It was a plea deal 7-21 years for Manslaughter. He got the aggravated because he had a extensive juvenile record and for causing the family distress. I wrote my letter and I feel that I said all that I could.

The most anguishing part was when the victims spoke and called my son trash and a murderer. That was so hard to hear because he is none of those things.
There were lots of moving parts in this case. Alot of things hidden and he was afraid to go to trial. It was a drug deal that went wrong he was 16 against 4 21 year olds. I am not excusing this, but no one else was charged......my son was also shot and injured. He was jumped and defended himself, so it was either them or him. One young man died and another was injured along with my son as well.

I feel angry, I feel sad, I feel lost, I feel fake. I have to put on this face and go to work and carry on with life. Some days are good others are tough. I miss him so much. Everyone that has delt with him from the lawyers to the COs comment on what a great kid he is. He just was in a horrible situation.

So he goes to the adult side of the jail this week. His birthday is thursday and he will be 18. After that he goes to the state sort it out for a week and than placed in prison with adults. I am petrefied to say the least. He is not a big kid. He can be so gulible. I am full of fear and also have not heard from him in 6 days. I called and I know its from a lockdown that is going on.
There have been protests because of ICE.

His spirits are good. Me not so much. I have trouble sleeping, I feel like a part of me has died. I hurt, I cry so much. How am I going to get through all of this time. I feel like I am in jail as well. I need help, I need something, I just do not know how to get rid of this burning pain in my heart.

Thank you for all the support, I really need it right now.

I love you my son forever and always,

Your Mom
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Old 08-28-2018, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Pamelaspeach View Post
I feel like I am in jail as well. I need help, I need something, I just do not know how to get rid of this burning pain in my heart.
"I feel like I am in jail as well". That's a great way of describing how we feel. We (parents on this site) are kindred spirits. That connection and perspective keeps us coming back here.

No one loves or supports your son like you do. That will become more apparent to you in time as people in his and your life move on with their life. And you stay "in jail" with him. Just one of the steps as you go through the journey.

The burning pain does not go away. I think for most of us we adapt so it does not possess us every minute of every day as it does for you right now (and did for us also). You learn to do all this in a new "normal" healthy way. Other people in your life may not understand. I don't bother trying to explain to them. But we get it. Been there, done that.

You will find, if you stay connected here, advise and support in the tough times ahead.
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Old 08-28-2018, 04:50 PM
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[quote=gvalliant;7741681
I think for most of us we adapt so it does not possess us every minute of every day as it does for you right now (and did for us also). You learn to do all this in a new "normal" healthy way. [/QUOTE]

Pamelaspeach - Iíve quoted gvalliant because what he says is true. The pain does not go away (for me, itís been 11 years and it still hurts), but we really do learn to adapt. It takes a while because the beginning is definitely the hardest, but once we learn that there is nothing we can do to change the circumstances or the thoughts of others we begin to find ways to support our kids and take care of ourselves. Be patient with yourself and know that what you are feeling is similar to what a lot of other parents have felt and we are making it through, sometimes one day at a time. Donít hesitate to seek outside help from a doctor or therapist if you have trouble functioning. There is no shame in that and it may help you get over the particularly rough spots.

I would also encourage you to come here when you need support. Although the parentís forum isnít as active as it once was, it is still a good place to come when youíre feeling alone. There is usually someone to listen and offer support. And, PTO in general will be invaluable in learning about your sonís prison and what you can expect. I donít know what I would have done without the helpful people on the CA forum.
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:43 PM
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Dear Pamelaspeach, my heart goes out to you. I too, am one of the newer parents on this site and have been going thru what you are. If it were not for the kind words and advice from the people on this site, I think I would have gone crazy. Although I have family and friends who commiserated with me, they did not really get what I was going thru. I felt like a death happened in my family. I felt alone and frightened for my son. I suffered anxiety the whole time he was going through pretrial. I could not sleep and I could not focus. I was a total wreck.

We were dealing with the district attorney who had it in for my son. She gave him a 14-year sentence when no one was even hurt. Others who did the same or worse have received less time, sometimes 1/3 of what he received. He is 22 years old and will serve 10 years without additional credits. We could not go to trial because he would have lost and he may have ended up with 36 years. We could not risk that.

My son is in prison waiting his assignment of where they will put him. It is a trial and tribulation for parents and loved ones to go through this. Along the way the members of Prison Talk told me it would get better and it has. I no longer spend every waking moment thinking about it. I keep myself as busy as possible although in my Quiet Moments I think about the unfairness of the sentence and what my son is facing and those are the worst moments. If I wake up at night I think about it. When i wake up i think about it. I have cried more tears in the last year than I have in my entire life. Thats why I try to keep myself busy.

I write to my son every week. I keep my letters positive and upbeat. I send along family pictures interesting articles and jokes. I know this helps my son to know i am there for him and helps to break up the monotony of being in a cell. I am looking forward to visiting my son and being able to give him a hug. I have not had physical contact with my boy since May 27th 2017. I plan on visiting as much as possible.

Others have taken my son under their wing and helped him to deal with prison life. They will do the same for your son too. He will learn how to get along in there. California has a strong emphasis on rehabilitation right now. They also have special programs for youthful offenders. Check out your state prison websites to see what's available for your son and tell him to ask his counselor for these programs.

I hope that as time passes for you that things will get easier for you too. I am sending prayers for both you and your son. Feel free to reach out to me anytime you would like to for moral support.
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Old 09-05-2018, 06:36 AM
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Oh boy, I can relate Pam.
things will get better. There will be lots of ups and downs. Just take things slow, and forgive yourself of any guilt you may feel.
I do remember taking off work for a bit after sentencing.
Then it was back to work. This was very hard. But in the end.....I'd go to work. Do my job, then come home and try to deal with *life*
It gave me a routine which was good.
Sleep was difficult to say the least. Just try to sleep, and nap if you feel (days off)


If you really feel like you are losing it, it may be time to go see someone. Counseling could help but to be honest? Coming to pto helped me the most. Many understanding folks here who have gone thru the exact same thing. And no one should chastize you for crying or make you feel bad for it.
Hang in mom.
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Old 09-05-2018, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by sidewalker View Post
Oh boy, I can relate Pam.
things will get better. There will be lots of ups and downs. Just take things slow, and forgive yourself of any guilt you may feel.
I do remember taking off work for a bit after sentencing.
Then it was back to work. This was very hard. But in the end.....I'd go to work. Do my job, then come home and try to deal with *life*
It gave me a routine which was good.
Sleep was difficult to say the least. Just try to sleep, and nap if you feel (days off)


If you really feel like you are losing it, it may be time to go see someone. Counseling could help but to be honest?
Quote:
Coming to pto helped me the most. Many understanding folks here who have gone thru the exact same thing.
And no one should chastize you for crying or make you feel bad for it.
Hang in mom.
I agree. My son was arrested 2 years before I found PTO. I was on the verge of seeing someone to help me deal with everything, but I did an internet search and came up with this site. As soon as I saw PTO and especially the parent's forum I knew that I was in the right place. It really helps to know that you're not alone and that everything you're feeling is normal. Such a relief after feeling so lost.
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidewalker View Post
Oh boy, I can relate Pam.
things will get better. There will be lots of ups and downs. Just take things slow, and forgive yourself of any guilt you may feel.
I do remember taking off work for a bit after sentencing.
Then it was back to work. This was very hard. But in the end.....I'd go to work. Do my job, then come home and try to deal with *life*
It gave me a routine which was good.
Sleep was difficult to say the least. Just try to sleep, and nap if you feel (days off)


If you really feel like you are losing it, it may be time to go see someone. Counseling could help but to be honest? Coming to pto helped me the most. Many understanding folks here who have gone thru the exact same thing. And no one should chastize you for crying or make you feel bad for it.
Hang in mom.
Thank you so much for responding. I am 2 weeks out after sentencing and feeling better. I went for a video visit yesterday and probably will not see him for a while due to him be shipped out for processing. His eyes are sad, thats what affected me the most yesterday.

I know that he will do well and stay on track. He is to determined to get his education and stay out of the politics of prison. Thank you for your kind words they truely did help.

One mom to the next thank you
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  #16  
Old 09-06-2018, 09:08 AM
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"I feel like I am in jail as well". That's a great way of describing how we feel. We (parents on this site) are kindred spirits. That connection and perspective keeps us coming back here.

No one loves or supports your son like you do. That will become more apparent to you in time as people in his and your life move on with their life. And you stay "in jail" with him. Just one of the steps as you go through the journey.

The burning pain does not go away. I think for most of us we adapt so it does not possess us every minute of every day as it does for you right now (and did for us also). You learn to do all this in a new "normal" healthy way. Other people in your life may not understand. I don't bother trying to explain to them. But we get it. Been there, done that.

You will find, if you stay connected here, advise and support in the tough times ahead.
I so appreciate this. Thank you so much.
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:16 AM
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How to Handle Yourself at a Loved One's Sentencing; A Brief Primer

Start with good self care in the weeks before. Eat properly, exercise (get those endorphins flowing), go to bed at the same time every night.

Journal about the whole situation. Get into your hopes and fears about what will happen once you have a definitive sentence and a maximum out date. If you are angry, deal with it. If you are afraid, deal with it. Journaling is a great way of getting all of those feelings out. Itís also a good way of dealing with your sense of sadness, regret, shame, and responsibility that most parents have when it comes to a child who is going to do serious time.

write your letter and organize letter writing by others (if youíre the kind of person who likes that sort of busy work).



If you havenít been to court, go. Go before sentencing so you know what the courtroom looks like, what going through security feels like, and where the bathrooms are located. Know that you should sit behind your loved one (assuming you are there in support of him) as this is a visual clue of support to the judge. If you support the prosecution, sit behind the prosecutor. If youíve never spoken to the victim before (if any), this is NOT the time to sit next to them or to start a dialogue.

Make sure you have the entire day off work. Seriously - sentencing may take a brief amount of time, but it is emotionally very taxing. You need the time.

Get a friend to help you with the day of sentencing. Have that friend drive and sit with you. It is good to have a rock of a friend to tend to your emotional needs and hold your hand and help you stay grounded.

Before sentencing, practice some grounding exercises. Deep breathing at a minimum will help you when the world seems to be spinning out of control.

I suggest taking something for an acidic stomach before court. Put a light breakfast in your stomach so that there is something there. Donít drink a ton of coffee or other fluid that morning or your bladder will give you trouble.

Dress comfortably. Dress like you would dress to go to a wedding, but without an excess of jewelry, make-up, or fuss. Just dress nice, but comfortable since you do not know how long you will be there. If you are going to speak on his behalf or as a victim, wear clothes that you are familiar with. If you dont normally wear heels, dont wear heels. If you are a skirt wearer, wear a skirt. Pick clothes from your wardrobe that help you feel confident and protected. I have a first day of trial suit that I always wear for the first day of trial. It helps me prepare, and helps me to feel confident and in control. Because I always wear it the first day of trial, it is familiar. Itís not too tight, I dont find myself pulling at the blouse to keep it tucked in, and I donít fidget in it because its itchy or feels odd.

Try to dress in layers. You never know how hot or how cold a courtroom will be. Being able to take clothes off to stay comfortable and not sweat is very helpful.

Frisk yourself before going into the courthouse. Make sure youíre not taking a weapon or anything that can be interpreted as a weapon with you (fingernail clippers included). Leave your cellphone at home. If you canít make sure your friend reminds you to put it on silent when you enter the courtroom. Food and drink wonít be allowed in the courtroom, but generally are allowed in the courthouse.

Be prepared for a bunch of hurry up and wait. Be prepared for the prosecutor to portray your son as the most foul human being ever to have existed. Bite your tongue. Words are wind. All it is is an interpretation of his history that best benefits a heavy sentence. Your side will get to speak as well and humanize him. Donít try to refute the Prosecution. Stick to your script.

Be his mother in court. Again, sit behind him to show support for him. Donít be surprised if you are not allowed to touch him even though heís a few feet away from you. You can whisper talk with him before the judge comes in. You may be able to get a hug from him at the end, before heís taken away - ask his attorney to ask for permission for a hug.

After sentencing, take your time going home. Find a place where you can have a cup of coffee or something and start the process of decompressing and processing all that happened. Talk with your friend. Journal. Get into comfy clothes and binge some NetFlix. Itís allowed - itís a heavy, heavy day, a heavy, heavy experience. If you have close friends and family, let them take care of you. Join in your misery as shared sorrow is decreased.

And remember to breathe.
Thank you so much for this. It really really helped.
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