Saturday, November 25, 2006

Last Day

Friday was my last day interviewing inmates. Finals are here, and my course schedule next semester is going to be pretty time-consuming. I'm taking Constitutional Law II, Criminal Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Florida Practice and Procedure, and a Trial Practice Workshop. I'm also trying to get a Plea Bargaining intersession class started; we'll see if there's enough student interest.

I'm really going to miss interviewing. Despite the horrible hours it made me keep, it was an unbelievable experience. I can now talk to just about anyone, immediately comfortable, and my eyes have been opened to these entire universes all outside my own. I wish I could check up on some of the people with whom I spoke, see how they're doing, but I know that's impossible. There was a girl just yesterday whose situation really, really got under my skin, distracted me for almost the whole day, and I found myself, for the first time, glad to leave the jail. Hers was a reality so barbaric, so primitive, that its mere existence distressed and terrified something deep inside of me.

I am so thankful for my life now. For my ease in obtaining food, water, transportation, heat, bedding, schooling - everything, I am so thankful. Out of all the things I have learned interviewing, it is this that matters most.

Also - someone who reads this blog told me that I am too "familiar" with the inmates, that I'm falling prey to their wiles, etc. While it is very true that I feel emotionally close with many of the people with whom I speak, it is because they are simply people, not because they are criminals, that I feel this way (and then choose to talk about it). The fascination - and that's what it is, fascination - resides in finding out that we are alike. All of us, no matter from what background, what age, color of skin - we are all alike. We have moments, together, that transcend all cultures, and are pretty amazing to share. Why not celebrate it? Or, at the very least, mention it? Speaking well of people causes no harm. Relating stories that make me smile, talking about people that make me feel good, complete, causes no harm. I personally don't care if the inmate has broken the law - I see the inmate as a person with whom I've been given a few minutes to share concerns, maybe a laugh. I'm not interacting with them to judge them. Lord knows they have - and will continue to have - enough of that from everyone else. So I will continue to share my experiences, to write as I do and about what I do. I know that I can't control you, but please have faith in me, and do not feel alarmed at what I say here.

Alors . . . All of that said, I don't think I'll actually be interviewing again, simply because it gives me zero contact with the PD office. I show up at 7:30, get paperwork together, leave for the jail, come back at 11:30, leave again at 12:00, then back to the jail. I talk to virtually no one but inmates and COs. So, with my time off from class/studying next semester, I'm just going to plant my butt in the PD's office and ask if I can follow someone around. I was supposed to shadow a PD not too long ago, but that fell through and now the guy is leaving the office. :( But that's okay, I will work it out. I mean, seriously, they're going to have to kick me out before I leave voluntarily.

I also want to get used to how a government office works. In between university and law school, I spent 6 years as a corporate slave, and the strangeness of the PD's office - in the few minutes I was even there - was pretty pronounced, to me. It's going to be very different. But I'll save this for another post; it's something that I have many questions about. I also have many questions about plea bargaining. Till then!

p.s. A fun idea for your next seminar, or similar:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment on the mere existence of a certains person situation getting under your skin reminded me of one of the truths of being a public defender. Others in Society simply ignore alot of things that happen because it creates cognitive dissonance in their worldview. It is difficult to acknowledge that certian things happen or that the world is a certain way, but in my opinion the world that a PD sees is that much closer to reality. I'd rather know whats really going on than try to pretend it just isn't so.

3:25 PM  
Blogger i heart public defense said...

Exactly. Plus, I mean, it's just easier. Most wouldn't think so, but, man, it takes a lot of energy for someone to delude themself day after day. And then there's all the frustration and upset once that false little world is shook up . . .

Incidentally, I found out the other day that they've decided (smartly) to drop all charges against that girl, and I just about jumped out of my pants I was so happy. Only, she had to stay in the jail for 3 weeks to find this out. And, she's simply moving from one Hell to another. But now she's out, which is what she wanted; she might be dead by the end of next week, but it's what she wanted, to be out.

There are no answers to anything, is there

9:01 AM  

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