Voice of Reason
|Posted on May 10, 2016 at 4:10 PM|
On January 7, 2008 I started my day as usual - packed lunches, made breakfast, tried to get in the shower, run to my vehicle and grab whatever it was that I had left in it the night before. That morning my routine stopped. I had NO vehicle in the garage. The doors to my garage were open, my vehicle was gone, and on closer inspection Clarence's work truck had been broken into. As I had slept the night before someone trespassed onto my property, broke into my home, stole my vehicle, and broken into my husband's truck. My family and I had been violated in the safe haven of our home.
When the police were able to finally find my vehicle it had been taken on a joyride through the Sunchild Reserve. Joshie's carseat had been thrown out, all of our CDs, DVDs, and assorted items that hang around in a mom's vehicle(extra clothes, food, money)were discarded or stolen. My vehicle had been seriously partied in. With that came all the leftover odor and trash. The bumper to my vehicle had been ripped off, there were several large dents everywhere, window were busted, and pieces of the inside destroyed.
All of this damage was caused by the acts of a fourteen year old boy who was suppose to be in his foster home on curfew. The curfew implemented because this youth had NUMEROUS charges still pending against him and also previous convicted charges.
My family and I were riveting from the shock of someone violating our home. People made comments like - "Well really it was just your garage" or "You should not have left you vehicle keys in the ignition". What a bunch of garbage those comments were. This youth had broken into my attached garage and stole my property. I could play the what if game - "What if Matt had gone to see what the noise was?" or "What if Clarence had checked it out?" or "What if he had not stopped at the garage and tried to get in the house?". We had an alarm system on the house but not the garage. But, if he would have set it off the fright of that would have been alarming. And, so what about my keys - it is my house, my vehicle - NO ONE should enter without my permission. That thought is in my rose colored world which I no longer live in.
Once the youth was apprehended and court dates set I took action. Every date he was to appear before the judge I was there. Every member of my family wrote a victim impact statement that I read before the youth, judge, lawyers, and general court public. I was taking a proactive role to have my voice as a victim heard. The judge was very considerate of my feelings regarding this case and impressed that I bothered to show up and let my voice be heard.
Ironically one of the crown prosecutors on a particular day informed me that it was a waste of time for me to be there and I did not need to continue showing up. Even the "defense" lawyer took offense to his tone and suggestion. Can you imagine telling a victim not to have a voice? How will we ever see change and justice if we do not stand up for what is right? I informed the chief crown prosecutors office of this lawyers bad choice of words and advice. I did recieve and apology. I hope with standing up to this lawyer he does not violate a victim again. Just imagine if I was a victim of murder or rape at the time. His careless comment could be devastating to my mental well being.
The youth in my case was sentenced to time in a locked down facility. He was sentenced for one year less time served that he had already been in jail awaiting sentencing. Five months had past since his crime against me had been committed.
The day this youth was released from custody he proceeded to use controlled substances with a couple of his buddies. While intoxicated these youth physically assaulted two of Matthew's schoolmates. One of the victims was beaten so bad that his jaw was broken and he had to have surgery. This beating could have easily turned into murder. (Eric, my nephew, was severely beaten to death)
I was outraged at these events.This youth that had victimized me had not learned one thing in lockup. I wanted to take a proactive role again. This time he had victimized two youth in my community. Which really if you think about it is a crime against me and every other citizen in Rocky Mountain House. Unfortunately, the justice system protects young offenders and it is very hard to get any information at all about their crimes. I had first hand knowledge of the beatings because I knew the two victims. I wrote a letter to the judge that sat on my case and also the head of the Young Offenders Branch. I received a callback from the judge expressing his frustration also. But, because of the postition he is in he could not really comment fully. He had never called a victim back before and he mentioned to me that most victims do not keep at the system to make the offenders accountable. The executive director of the Young Offenders branch also contacted me and was going to personally look at this youth's file.
I am not privy to what was done to this offender. I just hope that using my voice helped influence the justice system to properly deal with this offender at the time.
Unfortunately I have recently heard through the grapevine that this offending youth has committed more acts of violence. I can not access any actual information. All I have is hearsay because of the young offenders act. So, I am going to rewrite the executive director of the Young Offenders Branch to look into these accusations.
If this youth is an immediate danger to my community. I am going to fight to have him properly looked after so that he is not a threat to me, my family, or my fellow citizens.
I am not without compassion for this youth. He had a seriously traumatic childhood. He is suffering from years of not being looked after properly. Every time he commits a crime against someone or the community he is hurting himself also. He needs to be completely looked after so he does not continue to harm himself. If he can not make good choices for himself than they need to be made for him. "It takes a village to raise a child!"
I hope this article encourages others to speak up for what is right. Victims are scared to standup a lot of the time because of fear of retribution. We can not live in a constant state of fear. We must take ACTION! The justice system can also wear down our resolve to take action. My case took over five months to resolve. And, even then it really was not resolved because the youth continues to commit crimes against my community. But, no change will happen if no accountable voice is heard. Use your voice - it is your constitutional right in this country!