On October 30th, six months to the day from Jason’s death, the first of the two drivers will be sentenced.
Rahim Meekins took a plea deal two weeks ago. He will be sentenced to 92 months for two felonies. He will serve the first third in prison, and assuming he has good behavior, he will likely serve the other two-thirds on parole. If you are trying to do the math in your head, 92 months is seven and a half years. A third of that is between two and three years. By the time he is leaving prison, I may have started to put my life back together. Maybe. This is the way our justice system works.
Despite the plea deal, I will still give a victim’s impact statement. (In a trial case, the guilty verdict comes in, then the victims each give a victim’s impact statement, then the judge decides on the sentence. In a plea deal, the sentence has already been decided, but the series of events is the same.) The victim’s impact statement is pretty much the only time I have a direct voice in the process. Because this is a criminal case, it is the state vs the defendants. My wishes don’t really factor into the mess, except in things like asking for dates, and even then it depends more on the judge’s schedule than what I want. The one place that is built in for my voice to be heard is this victim’s impact statement.
So, that means that on October 30th, I will be standing in a court room telling the judge, the court, and Rahim Meekins how this crime impacted me. This is high on my list of things that are going to suck. On one hand, I know that the sentence has been decided. No matter how brilliantly I speak, it will remain the same. No matter how eloquently I argue for restorative justice, for restitution, for a way to break the cycles of violence and poverty, there will be no option for those programs in the felony system. In many ways, this seems like screaming into the void. Nothing will change from my actions, the outcome will be the same.
But this is my chance to address Meekins. And this is my chance to address the judge, the same one will be overseeing the second case. Maybe screaming into the void will encourage Meekins to become a better person, maybe screaming into the void will make his family listen and see the impact he’s had, maybe screaming into the void will get him access to anger management classes or domestic violence classes or one of the dozen other things that would help break this cycle.
And this is my chance to be a part of this legal action that centers on me and mine, but is also so far removed from me. So I’m going to do it.
All of these are public hearings. That means anyone can come and sit and watch. Part of me wants to tell no one and do this quietly, on my own. And part of me wants to fill the court room with people who love Jason, to show by the numbers the community that he was ripped from. As if maybe, then it isn’t just me screaming into this void.