I posted earlier this week that I was summoned for jury duty. I also posted recently how I always wanted to be “normal” like everyone else. I stated that I had come to the conclusion that we are ALL normal, we’re ALL messed up! Well, while serving on jury duty this week, I learned that unfortunately, there are quite a few who even more messed up that the rest of us.
I served on a case of armed robbery that took place in a close knit community in my small city. We are actually more of a large town, and we like to think it is a fairly decent place to live. Unless you live in this neighborhood, and a few others around it. We have heard about these places, and are grateful we don’t live there, but we really have no idea what that life is like.
The defendent was 21 years old and had already served time for burgulary. The victim was a known felon, and we all “knew” he was a drug dealer. And so did the entire neighborhood. The accomplices and witnesses were all under the age of 22. The girls connected with this case were no older than 20 and pregnant with a second or third child. Unemployment, drugs, gambling, guns, prostitution and lots of children out of wedlock is rampant in this community. Now, I am not naive enough to say it is not going on elsewhere in my town, and I am not trying to look down my nose at anybody. For heavens sake, I had my first child at 16!
No, what bothers me, is that this is a way of life for this community. The young people live this way because it is what their mama did. They hear gunshots and think nothing of it. Most of the time, crimes are not even reported, as they involve illegal activity on both parts, victim as well as perpetrator. At any given time of the day or night, you will see people rolling dice, playing cards, and guns are a common household item. For heaven sake, one of the state’s witnesses had sex with the defendent so he would pay her phone bill!
My children went to school for a while with some of the kids from this neighborhood. The high school is a rough school, feels like an inner city school. Fights every day, racial tension is still very high in this southern community. It is sad to me that most of them don’t even know that they could do better for themselves. They don’t have role models to look up to. They wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Education could help raise them out of their situation. Our state has a great lottery-funded program whereby students can get full academic scholarships at our public colleges, or at our technical schools (and this one is not dependent upon grades at all) I don’t have a clue if we have a boys and girls club in our town, and I am not sure what the local churches may be doing. I know a few years ago, I was involved at a youth community center that was faith-based and we did draw kids from all different walks. It was great for the year it was there, but I have to admit, that even then, I really had NO IDEA what these kids lived with.
I am not sure what I am going to do with this feeling of unrest I have, but if definitely makes me thankful for what I DO have. I am going to have to pray and think over this whole issue in our town and see what may already be available and how I can help.
For those who may wonder how the case went (and I can talk about it now that I am done with jury duty) we had a hung jury 6-6. We could not come to agreement. The problem was, EVERYBODY was lying, so it was difficult to corroborate stories and there was no physical evidence. While we all actually felt he was guilty, we did not know to what degree, and the biggest issue was that the state did not prove beyond reasonable doubt, that he was indeed guilty. And that is the tricky part, understanding the law and applying it to the facts and determining the verdict. Our justice system has so many great parts about it, but oh so much duplication. Now, this young man will have to be tried again with a different jury, and hopefully the state or his defense will be able to better prove innocence or guilt.
And I learned something about myself as well. Dealing with the law and the court system and the attorneys is not for me! I have never thought of being in criminal justice, but now if that thought ever crosses my mind, I can shoot it down real quick (no pun intended!)
I do want to say, that I am bad to offend and stick my foot in my mouth, so if I offended anyone, I am sorry! I am in no way trying to stereotype a person or group of people. These are just my feelings and my personal experiences! If anyone else has served on jury duty, I would like to hear your experiences!