A second chance deserved

Published 1:25 am Sunday, February 7, 2010

I do not claim to be an early morning person. Anything before 8 a.m. is just too early for me to lift myself out of bed to start my day. But, after sitting in on the juvenile and family drug court sessions with Judge Bob Armstrong on Thursday at 7:30 a.m., I found that my pouting about waking up early was very unwarranted.

I left the courtroom feeling like for all the struggles and mishaps in my day, maybe everything isn’t as bad as it seems in my small universe. The people, citizens who have done no criminal acts, at these weekly court sessions are either there by choice or by Armstrong’s court order, but all are committed it in the program that require weekly progress report viewing in court with Armstrong, attending and behaving well in school or G.E.D. programs.

The people in the program want to better themselves for their children, families and themselves. They want to be free from their habits that caused them to have their children taken away from them. They want to heal severed relationships with their children. And they want to be honestly happy again.

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One woman said she did not know she could be this happy. She thought that when she had been drinking that she was happy in those moments, but sober life has brought her more joy than she knew possible.

There were just smiles all around, which is heart-warming for a group that has hit close to rock bottom, if not farther. Even for one woman, who was attending the court session for the first time, looked hopeful. I don’t know how hard it was for her to walk into the door of the courthouse to come to the session, but I think it probably took a lot of courage. It took courage because she had to admit she needed outside help to solve the struggles she faced daily.

I don’t know what these people looked like before they walked into these sessions, but according to the raving reviews from Armstrong about the progress of these people, I think they have come a far journey. Armstrong is helping these people have a second chance at a life with their families.

Sitting in the courtroom on Thursday morning, I realized that maybe everyone needs a second chance. It just takes someone to see that glimmer of hope inside of you. With a little encouragement and accountability, I think these people deserve more than a second chance. They deserve, and have earned, my respect.

Laura Fenton covers education for The Selma Times-Journal. You may reach her at 410-1744 or e-mail her at laura.fenton@selmatimesjournal.com.