In my senior year of high school I got my senior service credits by volunteering at an alternative/special ed school here in my metropolitan area. I was assigned to their six grade classroom and would assist there for 2 hours 5 days per week. The school was focused on kids with behavioral/emotional issues, and to put it bluntly it was full of bad ass kids with propensity toward violent outbursts. My kids were 12 years old, i was 18. My class was small...roughly 10 kids...and they quickly started warming up to me and looked forward to my time with them.
I enjoyed my time there and missed the kids and the bonds I had formed with them, but after I graduated and moved away for college they crossed my mind less and less often.
This evening, something randomly triggered my memory of my time there and I started Google-ing the names of the kids I could remember.
Here's the shocker - one of my favorite boys is serving a 25 year second-degree murder sentence!! he was 14 at the time of the murder (only 2 years after I left). =[[
I read up on his background, his charges, his case (plead to 2nd and 25, was charged with murder 1), and his appeal. It broke my heart. He came into this world to a 14 year old mother. He was found to be neglected, and had been involved with the law/juvenile court/CPS/foster care from the ripe old age of 5. This was a child who was failed by his family and community, then also failed by the system put in place to protect him. There's no way I can go into all the details.
Anyway, I can't help but feel guilty as I was one of the people who crossed paths with this troubled kid, but wasn't able to help him. There was no way I could have ever known his background or even begun to imagine the hardships he had been through before I met him or while I knew him, but the kid I knew was sweet and talkative and eager for an adult who showed interest in his life and believed in him. I was only able to provide that for a short amount of time. =\
So, I looked him up in the correction system, and wouldn't ya know, TODAY is his 19th birthday. I feel like there is a reason that his name crossed my mind today and that I found out all this info today of all days. I have the address to contact him, and I feel compelled to send a birthday card and a note but...
What do I say? What would you say? Would you even contact him? For all I know, I'm the only person he will have ever gotten correspondence from. I'm so sad. I just want him to know that someone out here cares and that he is not alone in this world. I have a couple pictures of us from the time our paths crossed...would you send those? Do you think he would even want to hear from someone like me?
Have any of you written to an inmate, whether you knew them personally or not? I'm obviously new to this. Thanks for any and all advice. I still can't believe this. Man.