Opinion: Finger pointing

POSTED: 02/23/12 2:33 PM

For some youngsters life seems to be all fun and games. The lackluster defendant that was in court yesterday morning is a fine example of today’s mentality. The charge against the just 18-year-old was not even all that serious – though the victim of this particular crime will obviously have a different opinion about this. But on the grand scale of things a burglary is not the end of the world.

The history of the teenager is a completely different story. It is a wasteland filled with disaster and it does not promise anything good for the future. The question is then: what to do? The young man has stuck his head deep in the sand. He was never short of excuses and constantly ready to point to others.

This classical it’s-not-my-fault attitude fits the similarly classical victim. We had to think about this after we happened to watch just the day before a TV-report about a Dutch aid-worker who had been kidnapped by rebels in a republic of the former Soviet Union and who had been kept prisoner for two years. The story was about how he had survived the ordeal and how he had rebuilt his life.

There is no point hanging on to the past, the aid-worker said, adding that he could have chosen to sit in a corner somewhere, feel pathetic and play the victim. Instead, he said, he focused on the future.

Our defendant in the meantime, complained about the finger pointing that apparently is going on around him – and the fingers are always pointing at him.

His story is ugly enough: in 2009 he got involved in a fight at school whereby he stabbed another student in the stomach. He was sentenced for attempted manslaughter. Because of his age – he was just 16 at the time of the near fatal stabbing – he was not even sent to prison.

The court system is geared towards re-socialization, so the youngster had to learn his lesson. Therefore he was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence. He also had to do 240 hours of community service and follow a mentorship program at the Victorious Living Foundation.

The idea was good, but there was one problem: the defendant did not play ball. He did not do his community service and he did not follow the mentorship program. Instead, he got himself arrested again in November as a suspect in a robbery at a Front Street jewelry.

So at the moment he really is where he should not be: in Pointe Blanche. He has been detained since November for this charge for which he still has to stand trial. Yesterday the court added 9 months imprisonment for the burglary to his record. And there is more coming because the teenager committed the burglary while he was on probation. Breaking the rules of probation means that the prosecutor’s office may go back to court and demand the execution of the 18-month suspended sentence from the 2009 stabbing.

In the face of all this, the teenager stuck to his destructive attitude. People are always accusing him when something happens, he muttered. That he did not show up for appointments with the court of guardianship was also not his fault. Once, he was only a quarter of an hour late, another time, when he had gone diving at six o’clock in the morning he was only an hour late. Another time he did not have money for the bus, or the guy who had promised to drive him to his appointment suddenly was unavailable.

These are of course all lame excuses. Everybody but the boy knows this. The sad side of this story is that the teenager is now for the foreseeable future an inmate at the Pointe Blanche prison. That is, as lawyers don’t tire of arguing, the best university for crime.

It does not take a rocket scientist to predict that we will see more of this young man in court in the future. Not immediately of course, because this hapless young man has time to serve. Unfortunately the idea that nothing will go wrong as long as he is detained is incorrect. In Pointe Blanche he will learn all those things his parents supposedly taught him not to do. Unless somebody comes up with a real good program to re-educate youngsters like this one, he will be lost forever.

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