This is the first day of waking up after the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a Juvenile Life without Parole sentence is 'Cruel & Unusual' punishment if there are not other options at the time of sentencing. There is a certain irony in a ruling regarding cruel and unusual punishment that rips apart so many families who have already been through so much tragedy.
I can't quite put the feeling into words. I think melancholy may be part of it, just plain sad covers it, I'm not particularly angry(although I've talked to some victims who are just that), there may still be an element of shock as well.
Imagine if you will, that you were in a horrific car crash, that took the life of a loved one & scarred you for life. As the years go by, the memory of the crash is always there, but the trauma of the event is always like this low level buzz in the background. The person you lost in that crash, always in your memory, wishing things could be different. You move on, the best that you can, with what you can hold onto, struggling to let go of the bad ending and remember the good things.
NOW, imagine that some 5, 10, 20 + years after that crash, an entity completely outside of your control, decided that the finality of that moment when you put it all behind you, wasn't really final. You will now be re-living that event, maybe once, maybe often, no one can tell you how often you have to be re-traumatized. But, your suffering is for the good of the nation, because it is what is 'fair'.
With respect to my state, they have no mechanism or process to even manage this process, by which these murderers will get the second chance our loved ones never had. I now have to shift my focus on how that process is designed and struggle to have victim's voices included in the process. We all know the victim's voice is the minority. The bulk of the media coverage yesterday failed to mention the dead, as is so often the case.
I don't think I can ever make anyone who hasn't walked in my shoes, understand just how devastating this all has been. I fought the good fight, did all I could, for my family, for my sister, and for the 100's of other victims I have met in similar circumstances. We lost, through no fault of our own. There was more money, more momentum, and more liberal press throwing support at those 'poor kids', who also happen to be murderers, some not fit to live in society. Check out the media coverage, they are treating Mr. Stevenson like a rock star, while we struggled and scraped our money together to get a press release. We're just not good for television, our stories are too sad, too real, too close to home. It's more palatable for the audience to hear how the 'kids' get a second chance.
Maybe tomorrow will be easier, maybe someday I can really close the book on the justice system, like I thought we did 18+ years ago. Maybe not. I've been trying to get my head around the thought of my sister's murderer going free for a few years now. I still struggle with it. I guess while I try to get victim's heard in this parole/hearing process, I should also get right with the reality that he could go free... something I never had to really think about since he was charged.
To the Justices who were in dissent, I do Thank You. It seems like you actually gave some consideration to the impact of this decision on us victims. To the Justices who have caused so many, so much pain, well, you have to live with it, I've got nothing for you.
Keep us victim's in your thoughts when you see Mr. Stevenson on the talk show circuit doing victory laps. Think about the dead, and those of us left behind, while he smiles and celebrates his victory. They're the ones who should really matter, but we already know they no longer have voices.