He tried to get up early. It’s tough without a cell phone. Listening to the rain on the darkened tent had it’s comfort until he rolled into a puddle, tents keep out most of the water.
He get’s up wearing his best clothes he has, the dirty ones from yesterday….and the day before. Unzipping the tent he bids his mom goodbye, snuggled in her damp but warm sleeping bag. In the coat pocket he scratches for a lighter.
The muddy trail ahead was lit by the cherry on his cigarette, he tries to avoid the puddles.”Maybe Labor Ready has work today.” he hopes, “You gotta get there early.” He walks into the street, a chicken plant on one side and a middle class culdesac on the other. In the dark they do not notice but in the day, “You gotta watch out.”
He walks a few miles to the street lights. early morning commuters splashing by with warm coffee and heaters, not to mention the rain is on the windshields. “Maybe this month we can get a place to stay.” he mumbles. It is hard.
Getting a job and a place to live…fat chance. “We are in a good place!”
At 17 cuffed and wondering “What is happening?” At the sheriff’s office the badged attendant explains to the young man that he has been accused of child molestation, “Who, me…when?” He asked.
After a brief visit with a public defender, a plea bargain and his future is set. SO…Sex Offender!
No one rents to an SO and he is molested by stares and comments of other homeless, there is no refuge. “Why didn’t they just shot me?”
Does it matter whether he did or not? Once accused for a sex crime you are twice convicted.
I ran into this young man a week ago. I tried to coax him to live with me and my family. He did stay a night but then he left. I met up with him again, taking him and his mom to the the store for food.
A few days passed and I learned from a man who is homeless that the young man is an SO. He is old and his house burnt down. He is squatting illegally in an old migrant worker shack.
I met him through my daughter who with her husband are caring for this man’s girl friend who has cerebral palsy. He let her go for a safer place to live but he prefers his cabin. We offered him a place to stay but he likes the freedom.
The elderly man heard I was helping the SO. He didn’t seem pleased. Latter my daughter told me why. The SO!
Some days latter the young man came to my office. We visited and I brought up the the sex offense and he was shocked that I knew. I spoke to him about the alleged offense. He said he was the highest level and would be required to register with the sheriff’s office for life, with his face posted on a special website and fliers posted where he lives.
But things didn’t ring true to me. He was level 1 and level 3 is the highest. We argued about a bit and I said let’s check. He said he couldn’t live at my house because there are kids and he has restrictions. Again we argued.
As it turned out he is no longer under supervision therefore he has no restriction and as I had thought he was the lowest level, then we undertook the next phase.
Because he was a youth when the allegation was made he had an opportunity to have his case sealed. This means he would no longer have to register and could get a job and a house.
I took him immediately to the court house an hour away and got him the paper work he needed. He may be free in a few weeks. Why did it take 11 years for help to come?
I know you all have mixed emotions about this as I do. We want people to pay their debt to society and move on. We do not know if he is guilty or not, he denies it. But we know anyone in that situation would.
We know the Judaical system pressures people to take lesser charges for a plea of guilty for this lesser charge. It costs us less, saves time and keeps the public defender from getting bogged down with cases.
Some say why take a plea if you are innocent? He is young, ignorant of the system, pressured by the authorities, warned that if he goes to court he may get many years in prison, he is poor, and no one knows his plight and even if they did….no one cares.
Imagine this situation.