Where do we find hope for the hopeless?

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." ~John Wayne

The world is full of heartache. I see it everyday in my job, but it’s never more apparent than the days I cover court.

It’s full of families, waiting anxiously to hear what fate lies their loved ones. Mothers, praying for their children; fathers, knees bouncing in worried anticipation; wives and husbands, with concern in their eyes.

For those on the outside, facing the judge, most are humble, hoping they don’t lose their limited freedom, while most of those on the inside hope that this will be the day they gain theirs.

Some carry an air of attitude. I think that’s a front, so they don’t show their nerves, their fear, or their real selves. Some, it’s confidence because they know they managed to stay clean.

For some, their fear is because they know they haven’t.

The judicial system is often criticized for its harshness. It leaves little room for wiggling in most cases. If you manage to get free, but then you mess up once, you land behind bars again. 

All it takes is one time.

So many of us make it through life without falling into the cycle. But there’s a lot who don’t. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that those people are someone’s family. They are someone’s son or daughter, granddaughter, grandson; someone’s mother or father; someone’s brother or sister. They have friends, they have people who care about them.

Once upon a time, all of those incarcerated were little boys or girls, learning how to tie their shoes and how to read. They dreamed big dreams of their lives, getting married, having families; being an astronaut, a teacher, maybe even a police officer.

But somewhere along the way, life happened. Something happened — they made the wrong friends, they got injured, they got lost. Somewhere along the way, they made a bad decision, made the wrong decision.

For some, they never had much of a chance, being victim of a family cycle — fathers or mothers who were addicted, absent or abusive, because that’s the life they had known, and so on.

Something led them to where they are. It makes me wonder, what would have happened if they made one different decision, or if one thing had been different.

Many, unfortunately, become repeat offenders. Why? Because it’s hard to shake that old life. It’s hard to stay clean, especially when your old friends start circling around.
"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." ~Robert Collier
Especially when the rest of the world is less than willing to accept you. When it’s easier to deal with the devil you know.

The point of the justice system is not to make life easier if you break the law. It’s to be fair and balanced. It’s not always administered the right way, but it seems the judges here do what they can to be fair and balanced.

Who’s job is it to help lives lost get back on track?

Where do we begin?

I’m not sure of the answer, just the questions. It’s my job to ask questions and find the answers.

There are many who are trying to help. There’s the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, the Families Into Getting Help Together, various churches, the Hope Network, Shepherd’s House and so many more.

They’re trying. But with limited funds and a large drug problem, they can only work so quickly. They’re trying to work together, too.

The question becomes, what will it take to get ahead of the drug problem? And what will it take to make a difference in the lives of the incarcerated? 

Community support? Perhaps. I certainly think that helps. 


But, above all, people need hope.

There seem to be more questions than answers.

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