Sunday, January 08, 2012

Regrets, I've Had A Few

You know, when I went to bed the other night, I had every intention of going when I got up the next day, but in the end, I just couldn't go through with it. I really, really thought this was something I'd be able to do without too much thought, but I was so wrong. Now, I am also kind of mad at myself for allowing my fear and anxiety to get the better of me but at the time, I felt I had no other choice.

Last Wednesday, one of the three guys that attacked us almost four years ago had a court appearance because he had been charged with aggravated assault from an incident in August 2011. He allegedly assaulted a complete stranger who was attempting to enjoy an evening downtown with his girlfriend. The attack put the victim in the hospital, leaving him with a fractured cheekbone, a split upper lip and a black eye. A trial for January 4, 2012 had been scheduled for him. His co-accused, a female companion, had her day in court the first week of December of last year.  

The couple that had been attacked had been trying to get support from the community at large by asking for people to come out on these scheduled court dates in an attempt to try to fill the courtrooms for both of their trials. They were hoping to send a message to the judge  that people do care and do really want to see these people off the street. I couldn't agree more, plus I thought this was a brilliant idea, never mind the myriad of questions I have regarding why this animal is still allowed out to continue to commit these violent offenses repeatedly with no sort of deterrent.

At the last minute though, I got scared. I hadn't been in a court room since two of our attackers received their respective sentences from the judge for what they had done to us. Before we heard this though, I had to read my Victim Impact Statement aloud to the court and then had to listen to each of their attorneys give their final statements about their clients to the judge in a last chance grab for some leniency I guess. This particular day was a bit of a blur because I was so overwhelmed with everything that was happening, and suddenly, after impatiently waiting almost two years for this day in court, now everything just seemed to be moving so bloody fast! Even though I was paying very close attention to everything that was being said by anyone that had a chance to speak, it ended up just being too much information all at once - too much new info and new info I didn't realize at the time was quite significant.

For years, because of our addiction, both Jim and I existed on the fringes of the law. Even though we knew we were breaking the law every time we fed this addiction and had to purchase drugs, we still somehow managed to remain under its radar for all intent and purpose the entire time we were using. Other than purchasing this illegal substance on a very regular basis, we conducted ourselves appropriately the rest of the time. We both went to work every day, we maintained our family home where we raised two daughters - one ours, the other our foster daughter.  We paid our bills and did our groceries and volunteered at the girls' school and participated in life pretty much like everyone else for the most part. Yes, there were times when our finances were definitely on the shaky side, as was our behavior I've no doubt, but we didn't have to support our habit by participating in any additional illegal activity.

So, even after years of being on the peripheral, we really knew next to nothing about our criminal court system until our attack. I know that had we been better informed nearly two years ago, the Sentencing Hearing of two of our attackers would have been very different for me. It is really only now that there are things that were brought up that day that are now impacting me, and had I not seen that small news article about our third attacker there are things I would never even ended  up considering.

First and foremost, I don't understand why these obviously violent individuals repeatedly keep getting second and third and fourth chances. It is only now that the significance of these three individual's prior record is significant. On the day of the sentencing of the first two who attacked us, it was introduced that between both of them they had a total of 28 assault convictions as adult offenders - one had 15 while the other had 13.  Now they were 25 and 24 years old on the day of their sentencing and had been in custody since the day of the attack almost two years earlier meaning they were then approx 23 and 22 which further means they had managed to accumulate this total in less than five years. WTF? I don't even understand why either one of them was still walking around as free men on the day of our attack. These assault convictions aren't the end of their adult record either. The sum total of all their convictions since turning 18 was actually 86 - one had accumulated 42 adult convictions while the other 44. Again I have to say WTF? Two years ago, this significance alluded me but now it doesn't.

In fact, ever since seeing that story in our local newspaper a month ago about our third attacker, I can't stop thinking about the whole subject of rampant violence in our society and what we need to do about correcting this problem. Right now my thoughts are all over the place as I haven't had a chance to assimilate all of the new info my mind has seemingly had to process since then and am even now having trouble putting coherent thought down here.