Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sentenced

Our thief has been sentenced. I learned so much about the ways and whyfores of our legal system, it's been quite the education. She decided to simply plead guilty, so we didn't need a trial, which was good cause that would have slogged it all out through next spring, at least. Yuck. Not to mention expense and all that.

So, around here at least, when one is pleading guilty, there is a plea & sentencing hearing, and it was scheduled for 9:30 on a recent Friday. There are a bunch of other cases all doing the same thing at that time, so we got to sit through several other cases while we waited out turn. I had soooo much to think about after sitting through that. There were some kids (well, kids to me - probably early 20s) who were in on drug stuff, and parole violations. There was the man who'd taken pictures of his 16 year old step-daughter getting out of the shower and other things you don't want to hear about. There was the young man who'd done unspeakable acts of cruelty to his 3 year old daughter and said he was a good father. It made me wonder how it is that the judges and lawyers and DAs and everyone can sit through these day after day, hour after hour and still see beauty in the world, can enjoy a night out with friends, and turn off their day jobs and look out at a sea of humanity and not be scarred and jaded. I couldn't do it, but I'm sure glad there are those who can. I have a greater appreciation for them, and I hope they CAN still appreciate the good in people, and the beauty in the world. We need them.

Having sat through those cases, I wondered if my thief would get any jail time or not. She did - she got 60 days in jail, 5 years of probation, must pay restitution, and of course spend the rest of her life as a convicted felon.

What was really weird to me about that morning was that I was the only one there speaking as a victim. The judge gives the opportunity for the victim to speak, or have someone speak on their behalf. There were no other victim impact statements presented, no one else spoke. No one spoke for the teenage girl (whose mother was there - and seemingly she was there FOR her husband, not her daughter, though she never spoke so I don't really know); no one spoke for that 3 year old baby. I hope this is not typical. I hope that more people who are harmed take the opportunity to tell what this meant. I know the law does what it can to punish, but if there isn't a personal side to it, does the one committing the crime really understand that side of it? Empathy isn't something that's easy to teach, but I think it's one of the most important skills someone can have. Are the criminals only sorry because they got caught, or are they sorry for the victim?? Seems like they're less likely to do it again if they understand that side, rather than just learn how to get away with it or blame it on the cop that caught them. Does that "good father" understand that his little baby girl is unlikely to ever be able to trust anyone or form healthy relationships? He had 2 rows of family there supporting him. Who was supporting that child? It felt like no one was. I sure hope I'm wrong.

3 comments:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

You make a good point about the need for victims to testify; I didn't realize so few do it. I'm glad your thief is sentenced and has to repay you, and I hope you NEVER have to go through something like this again!

Lynne said...

That is terrible about those victims not having someone to speak for them. I'm glad you could speak for yourself, and that you have family and friends to back you. I couldn't work in the court system either.

Anonymous said...

Oh you poor people.... I have bought all of my wheels from you except for one and I have a lot of them. I was looking at a Victoria online today and dreaming and there was an ebay one and I thought I'd get it from you. However, I have to have a grain of sense in the wheel collection or move out of the house. I, too, have been robbed and by someone I knew but didn't like-I was young and working as a bar tender and it is just horrible.. I have also worked in the court system and it is unbearable and beyond depressing. Best wishes. Anna McCarthy