Monday, March 2, 2015

Thoughts from Drug Court



I left my house this morning at 8:10 to visit Drug Court with a defendant I know.

Things I noticed:

Young men who wear their pants below their buns actually go through the motions of pulling them up, but only to just-below-bun level. 

These same young men can rely on their pants to stay up just by virtue of the pant legs touching the floor. They can't fall down anymore than they already have.

The court system is incredibly dehumanizing. Even with a caring, competent judge, the accused is at the mercy of the court and must simply wait as long as it takes. In our case, we waited over 2 1/2 hours for 3 minutes in front of the judge. But that's the way it works.

It is my preference never to be handcuffed as that looks like some kind of uncomfortable situation right there.

I have added court-appointed attorney to my list of jobs I am grateful I do not have. I think they provide a necessary service and are hugely important to the legal lives of millions of prisoners, but what is it like to work with person after person without really being able to touch them. I'll grant you I've never been an attorney or a defendant, but from the outside, that looks like a tough gig.

My heart went out to the old man next to me whose CAA told him in front of everyone that he does not qualify for Drug Court because of his "extensive felony record." When the attorney walked away, the man said in frustration, "I haven't been in trouble in twenty years." I responded sympathetically. Before he walked away, he sadly said. "This stuff just never goes away."

Don't I just wish that every young person in that courtroom could understand what an opportunity they have in Drug Court. The opportunity to come out without a record, while being given treatment to deal with the substance abuse issue. And yet, substance abuse is surely only the tip of the iceberg for many, if not all, who stand before that judge.

The opportunity not to have to say in 40 years, "This stuff just never goes away."

1 comment:

Ann Karkoski said...

Susan, what a great article filled with compassion and understanding. You gave a different perspective on a common experience. Thank you for shedding some light on other lives. Blessings to you, Ann