Friday, May 29, 2009

Went to a Meeting for People who Lost Loved Ones to Homicide

The last blog didn't get read, but in it I wrote about how I met with a parole officer. A girl who was involved in my father's homicide was up for parole after only a year in jail. I need to write to the officer, so he can email me--he said he can't tell me outright over email but he can say "in so many words"--the results of her parole hearing. I'm really thinking that she won't get out this time, but he says she will not serve her whole sentence. As an accessory, her offense is not considered violent, so she won't have to do Mississippi's required 80% of her sentence. She will get credit for time served and be out in three years, max.

So, I said that I wanted to tried to get the laws changed. It won't affect her, but it will give me something to contribute. I want 'accessory' to a murder to be considered a violent offense. I want higher maximum penalties for the crime. Yes, a judge can still give a lenient sentence, but I want the possibility of more than 5 years maximum. I guess this seems to be a pipe dream. I know it will be an uphill battle to change anything. I thought I'd start by going to a meeting for "Survivors of Homicide Victims," because if anyone would be willing to fight for change, these people surely would.

I'd gone once before a year ago, and seen a woman there who'd lost her husband just a few months before. Last year, it had been two years since my dad died, and this woman's face kept reminding me of something. Her eyes were just so angry that they burned. I can't describe it any other way. He had been run down by a drunk driver, and justice was her mission.

I realized as I was leaving that she reminded me of me. The look that is some kind of mix of shock, rage, disgust, damage. You tuck it in over time, but those first few months it is there, and you really are only aware of it because, looking into the eyes of others, you see pity and your pain reflected. This woman was not at the meeting I went to last night, but she was mentioned. She is going for the death penalty.

The meeting last night was hard. One woman lost her daughter less than 6 months ago. She looks awful. She is having to hire doctors and detectives. The murderer might get away with it. I said nothing of lobbying the state senators. I know I have to put in my time. Gauge things. The group is a place for people to expel their grief and rage, as best they can.

I miss my father. I would never have thought he would die in that way. I can't even explain the disappointment I feel about life. That is one of the worse things--this idea I thought I had of how bad life could get, the way I thought I was jaded enough--was wrong. I guess I trusted that certain things wouldn't happen in my family, even without knowing it. I still sometimes can't believe that someone would do what they did to him. There is really nothing else to say.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meeting with a Parole Board Member About My Father's Murder--lowlights

I wrote at length on my other blog about my father's murder in '06 and how a girl who pled guilty as an accessory is up for parole now, after only a year in prison.

The link to my other blog is at bottom, and I won't rehash all that here, but suffice it to say that it is as if the systems wants the criminals out.

First off, as I understand it, you get on the parole board because you have kissed the governor's ass in some way. He appoints people--five--to the board. There is no vote from anyone else. It is the taxpayers who will pay upkeep on these people and the taxpayers--not wealthy politicians--who will live among the ex-cons if they are released, yet we get no direct say in voting in a parole board member. Our governor was a wealthy tobacco company lobbyist for years and is a Republican. He was chairman of the Republican National Committee in the '90s. He recently commuted the sentence of a murderer, who spent the bulk of the time he was supposed to be in prison working in the governor's mansion. Now he is totally free.

Would people who voted in a governor like this do any better voting in a parole board? I think so. The public can realize their mistakes (for instance, many have turned against the governor now, who can't run again anyway). If a parole board let a criminal out that went on to commit another atrocity, you can bet people would be angry. Right now, there is no record that I know of to show how each parole board member voted. I have seen articles in which parole board members would not answer questions about how they voted if asked by citizens of this state. I think this should change. There should be a record that could be accessed. Let them keep their home addresses and the parole hearing locations private, but let their vote be public.

Finally, the parole board member I spoke to claimed that letters from family members of victims mattered the most in their decision of whether to let someone out or not. I told him that a life is worth something, no matter how many letters they get. The circumstances of the crime should be considered, not how 'popular' someone was. Are we back in high school, with a new and improved yearbook category--Most Likely to Not have His Murderer Paroled?

I want to do something about all this, though I am not sure what. I am going this week to a support group for people who lost family members to homicide. I also want to meet with a state representative, but I know I will need much research (and hopefully support) before I do. People need to understand that we can't make the system perfect, but it could be fairer.

I can tell you from experience that you hate to become aware of the unjust system when you have already lost a loved one and it is too late to correct the court system's handling of their death.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Water and Sewer Secretary? Has it come to this?

Yes, lil chirren, it has.
Tomorrow I will fill out an application to be a district water and sewer secretary. This doesn't mean I'll have to get wet and wade in shit (and I asked them that, believe me!). This means I'll shuffle papers and organize mindnumbingly boring "projects" for low pay.
I once wanted to be a published author. I had dreams. Now, look what my life has come to! I wish I could think of something funny.
My illspent youth was spent illly working for the public school system. I was cussed out by third graders whose parents were more concerned with procuring new SUVs than raising decent children. I used to joke that the little hellions didn't have attention -deficit disorder, they had ass-whipping deficit disorder. I grew tired of it. I left.
And finally landed here, jobless. I may not even *get* to be the sewer secretary. They may find someone with better qualifications. I've sunken low, my frenemies, low.