Justice can only offer condolences

There are things I dwell on throughout the week and lately thereís one I canít seem to escape: the fatal teen accident in Bainbridge.

Right now Iím imagining a 17-year-old kid staring at the floor of a concrete jail cell, tormenting himself with so much self disdain it nearly rivals the publicís bitterness. Thatís what Iíd be doing if I were him.

I donít sympathize with him, I only pity his desperate and futile circumstance. He was the kid who went to a party in the woods with a group of his high school friends. Drinking and doing all the things I canít say I never did until he unknowingly decided to do what would define him for the rest of his life.

With the slip of a key, his negligence sealed the doom of a young girl who willingly climbed into the car next to him. Another will be disfigured her whole life and the other three dodged similar fates on the wings of modern medicine, emergency heroics and little else.

He, as it always ironically seems to be the case, survived the crash relatively unharmed and in far better shape than any other occupant. I do know that the same idiotic, drunk and free-spirited kid who climbed into that van never again climbed out. But at least heís alive at all.

At some point in the next decade, maybe sooner, maybe later, the state is going to hand this kid back his life and I wonder what then becomes of him.

What kind of person is molded through such awful tragedy and serious punishment? At 17, burdened with taking a life combined with years of incarceration ... Iím still in the process if wondering if I even really care what happens to him because honestly Iím not sure that I do.

I am curious to know how these terrible circumstances impact those who commit them. Do they repent and recover or do they just get worse.? I suppose it depends on what kind of a person you are to begin with.

In court, heíll be brought before the bench and the time of adolescent forgiveness is over. He will be judged on who he is and what heís done. Is this a case involving a self destructive pattern or the single worst decision in a life? The difference between the two will play a large role in deciding the severity of his fate.

The specifics aside, the most compelling feeling I get looking at this incident is the overwhelming urge to keep it from happening again.

A good part of that might involve immersing local teens in this oneís fate. Come to court, see how the system grinds and wears down the accused. They could watch their former peer take half steps to the defense table with his arm and leg shackles dragging behind.

I donít believe in scaring young adults into sobriety; the scary thing is that most probably donít realize the consequences. Lady Justice is blindfolded and as far as she cares, it could be anyoneís son or daughter sitting in the defendantís chair.

Come and see the victimís family as they suffer in court; just across the aisle you can see the defendantís family suffer, too. Justice will be sought, but it can only offers its condolences. It canít change the past or undo the loss. Thatís what people need to know. Thatís what teens need to remember Ė nothing can, except making the right decision to begin with.

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