Weird Hope by Kaze
I hate to see the youth in orange and chains. Joey had been the lookout in a robbery of a youth gang from which they stole $10 and some beer. His partner, Wendell, had waved a revolver around that he had stolen from his father. That meant being charged with a felony.
Lookout Joey expected probation. To his surprise he went to jail. For him it was a wake up call. Not all jail sentences are. Most of the time, the youth complain about how unfair the system is and how it was bad luck for them. The connection between the criminal act and jail time is tenuous in their minds.
Often the arrest and sentencing does not seem all that rational to me. One who trashed a school with $20,000 damage to the computer at three different times received no jail time and only standard probation. Another who fought back his stepfather’s abuse with his fists gets four months in Juvenile detention and intense probation. Go figure. The youth go to court expecting the best and the worst. Their stomachs clench in complicated knots until they know their sentence.
When the mother called me to announce this youth was arrested, I tried to sort through the complicated stories: “He wasn’t really involved. His friend asked him to watch his back. Joey didn’t know Wendell had a gun. Only when I arrived at the court house did I hear that he had already admitted to being the lookout which meant he was fully accountable for the crime.”
The Sunday before his incarceration, he called me for a ride to church. I told him my car was full and couldn’t give him a ride. To my surprise, he walked to the Chruch and showed up on time. He told me later that he felt good coming to Church and being welcomed by the youth group.
Then he became a lookout.
When the judge told him he had to go to jail, he went into shock. His mother, who had also expected probation, was outside the courtroom with his small siblings. When they saw him in handcuffs, they all began to cry and tell him goodbye. No one understood why he was going to jail.
I worried when I went to see him in jail. To my surprise, he smiles when he sees me. We talk about his crushed expectations of just being on probation and on consequences. I can’t say that he totally understands that his choices do shape his path but he has a glimmer of how his actions influence his life.
He asks me to tell his mother and step dad that he loves them and all his brothers and cousins who live at his mother’s house. We talk about his future and what would be the next step. He didn’t see this jail time as a block to his future. He was not bitter. He told me he was the youngest one in the pod and no one talks to him. That didn’t turn him hostile. “I don’t know why but I still have hope that I can change and do something different.
I am filled with hope by seeing his hope.