Monday, January 09, 2006

Jury Duty: Call to Action

My Fellow Americans,

This is to all of you red blooded Americans who actually care about making the world a better place.

Today, I reluctantly went do show up for a jury summons where I live in the Harris County Court District. I have been twice before, and have served on an actual jury one of the now three times I have answered the call. I showed up at 8am to sit in a large room filled to over capacity and sat along the back wall with more than 60 others in the room who couldn't find a seat either.

After the oath and being called to the second panel to go down, I was made to walk 4 city blocks to the felony court building. This was the second time I have been here and both times were on a jury panel.

We went through security and waited in line for the elevators to go to the 15th floor. Then we waited outside the 236th court for hours.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I tell you this to let you know that I was kinda grumpy when we finally got into the court.

Before the judge let us go because the court dates for his three cases got rescheduled, our judge told us some very interesting things:
1. only about 18% of people summoned show up for jury duty
This fact alone causes an alarming number of horrible people to be set free to walk the streets because their cases are postponed sometimes 2 years after the incident which causes the witnesses to not remember what happened.
2. 95% or so of those accused of felons who appear before this judge are between 14 and their 20s.
3. Most cases are about drugs
4. 95% of the defendants don't have anyone who cares enough to show up in court for them. This judge says that is why they are here in the first place. He explained that most of them had no parrental supervision growing up and many didn't have parrents in their lives at all.
5. Recent changes in the law mean that agravated charges mean longer terms. This is good because it keeps them off the streets longer, but the State of Texas hasn't and wont build any more prisons so the already full prisons cannot hold the strain.
6. From the Katrina evacuees, Harris county has absorbed more than 2000 agrevated sex crime offenders. Apparently Louisiana doesn't keep good records and didn't have a solid number.
7. Since the time to court for cases is a year or longer, violent crime offenders can make bail for 10% of $30,000 or so and be on the streets for a year or more.
8. The felony system creates repeat offenders, since felony offenders cannot get real jobs nor real work and end up back in dealing drugs.

This is a call to action people.
1. Care enough to parrent your children.
2. Get through to their friends.
3. Faith-based iniciatives need to be created to care for the children in the bad situations who might end up like this without any intervention.

Whatever your New Year's resolutions, you need to add action to take responsible for the world we live in, or it will only get worse.

I pray that God blesses each and every person who reads this so that they can be HUGE blessings to programs in their communities around the country and the world and even start programs where they do not exist.

I also pray that God lay on the heart of many to become foster parrents. I will consider it prayerfully. I have a 4 year old, so I will have to wait until that one gets a bit older, but I believe that if we can reach even just one more child through fostering that we can change our communities and our world.

Be blessed,
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