I want to acknowledge that I consented to her plea deal. I knew what I was doing when I made that choice, and I do think this is the easiest choice for me and for Jason’s immediate family. I think that the plea deal is overall a good thing. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
The trial felt like playing roulette. If we won everything, Haynes would go to jail for 10 years. If we won some things, Haynes would go to jail for a few years. Any kind of winning would feel like justification; it would be 12 people who didn’t know Jason saying, “Yes, she fucked up. This was avoidable and she was in the wrong.” But if we lost, Haynes would walk free without ever needing to take responsibility for her actions. Those 12 people would justify her and make it so she never needed to own that she killed someone. The potential in winning was big, but the potential is losing was devastating. The plea deal is safe. It is a deal; she’ll only be serving 48 months. But it is still time she will serve and to get it she had to admit culpability.
Her admission of guilt was deeply unsatisfying. Maybe if she’d rolled her eyes a few less times while doing it, it might have looked genuine. Or if she’d seemed at all remorseful. Or if she’d been something other petulant the entire time. But she was the same woman I’ve watched for the past year. No remorse, no regrets, no maturity, no responsibility, no fucking moral compass, and no real acknowledgment that she killed someone. She said the words, but her body language said that she didn’t believe them.
I’m left feeling like 48 months isn’t enough. If the point of prison is to remove the threat to society until it is no longer a threat, I don’t think this is an effective sentence. I don’t think she will change in the 32 months she’ll be behind bars. I don’t think that is a long enough time to reflect on her choices. And I don’t think the prison system has the resources (or design) to help inmates do that self-reflection. So when she gets out, nothing will have changed. She won’t have course-corrected her life to not make this mistake again. She won’t have learned compassion or empathy. I don’t think she’s likely to change.
I believe in second chances. I believe people are fundamentally good. It is hard to hold to these beliefs in the face of this trial.