Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thinking about the past after a recent visit to a courthouse...

Looking outside of the courthouse
Recently, I was summoned to jury duty at the Cook County criminal courthouse when it hits me that many years before had been my first visit actual visit to this area. My 8th grade class at Bennett School took a field trip to the adjacent Cook County Jail where we were met by the inmates who's apparent goal was to scare us straight.

They made a unified statement telling us to think about it. Some of us smirked to which some of these inmates let us know that there was nothing funny about what they said. Some of us were passionate as whatever these inmates were saying struck a nerve. Some were in tears and others had an outburst.

Many of them tried to relate to us tales of what happened to put them in jail and some of my peers were finding themselves in the same situation anyway. In fact, I'm sure this experience probably saved a few of us that day. Unfortunately in spite of this trip, there is at least one classmate who was headed for trouble back then who is no longer walking among us today.

In fact that experience was the first time I realize that some of my peers were in gangs. It was a revelation that was only the beginning as I headed to one of the worst high schools in the city at the time. If I had no clue they were in a gang when I finally got to my assigned high school that fact would be thrown in my face.

Hopefully the youth of today don't have a trip such as this, one of the most unusual during my time in public school. Although perhaps a trip such as this should be reserved for the ones who are known to be trouble. Although if only we had a true crystal ball for the ones who's future are either dead & buried or constant trouble with the law.

If anything I'd rather hope we sent our youth to the courts for a tour of a courthouse. If only my grammar school had arranged for that back in the day instead of a trip to the jail. Perhaps someone in my class - especially myself - could've been inspired to be a lawyer or judge. Or the future 8th graders could be inspired to have a career in the law.

All the same, I'm satisfied only with having to make a rare trip to a Cook County Courthouse for jury duty. Thankfully no brushes with the law that would land me at either Cook County Jail or in a courtroom at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse. And I hope to keep it that way!

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