I screwed up royally, my parents are understandably upset, and I could use some advice

Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 03:06 pm
This all started back in August. Some friends and I were looking for a place to party. We settled on this abandoned farm just outside the city limits that everyone knows about. We went out into the field with the plan to build a fire to sit around while we drank some beers and waited for the stars to come out. None of the guys had ever built a fire before and since I'm a former girl scout, the fire building duties fell to me. There was a burn ban in effect, but we chose to ignore it. Long story short, the fire eventually grew out of control and spread onto a neighboring farm, damaging a barn and the equipment inside it really badly. We all ended up getting arrested for trespassing and underage drinking. And since I was the one who started the fire, I was charged with reckless burning (a felony).

Fast forward to today. I was in juvenile court this morning to learn my fate. I've never been in any sort of trouble before and I've always been a good student, so I guess I kinda assumed the judge would be lenient with me. Wrong. I've been sentenced to 90 days in juvie!

The only reason I'm not there right now is because I have a job, so the judge is allowing me to remain free until the week's end so I can resign and otherwise get my affairs in order. Then, on Friday evening, I have to report to the county juvenile detention center to begin serving my sentence.

Nobody needs to tell me I screwed up royally. I own the fact that what I did was stupid and reckless. I feel super guilty about the damage I caused and know that I deserve my punishment.

My parents have been upset with me ever since that night and what happened today definitely didn't help any. I hate the way things are/have been between us. I want so badly to show them that I've learned from this and will never be so stupid ever again. But how? How can I start repairing our relationship after screwing up this colossally? I hope some of you might have some advice for me, because I could really use it right now!

Finally, like I said before, this is my first time being in trouble with the law. I've never been anyplace like juvie and have no idea what to expect. I don't know if anyone here has any experience with juvie, but I could also use any tips anyone might have for getting through the next three months.

I still can't believe that in a few days, I'll be celebrating my seventeenth birthday in jail. But anyway, thank you all for listening. Writing this out has helped calm me down a little bit.
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 04:41 pm
I know you think the judge was being harsh with you.

Actually, that judge was being lenient.

You're not going to be in with the general prison population. And you won't be there for more than 3 months (with a felony, a year or more is possible—that's the definition of a felony).

What do you do?

Here are a few suggestions:
  • Go to jail as requested, no fuss, no muss.
  • Don't complain about it.
  • Be a model prisoner. No trouble, no fights, no backtalk. Keep your head down and your nose clean.
  • Write to your folks (with actual pen, paper, and stamps) at least once a week and ask how they are. If something good happened (you learned how to knit, you got a job in the library, you made 30 foul shots in a row, etc.) then tell them. Bad news? Don't mention it unless it's seriously life or limb threatening (you've been beaten, you're afraid of being raped, etc.). The letters are for you to show your folks you are thinking about them. And if/when they write back, comment on what they wrote, and ask questions, etc. If you miss them, there's no reason not to tell them.
  • Stay away from your firebug pals, and make new friends.
  • Quit drinking underage.
  • If you're concerned you have a drinking problem, you just might—and seek treatment (which you can do while in Juvie, BTW).
  • When you are old enough, and you do drink, be responsible with it.
  • When you get back home, be helpful, thoughtful, and contrite. Do your schoolwork and stay out of trouble.
Juvenile detention is no country club. But you can get through it.
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Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 05:24 pm
I agree with everything Jespah wrote in her comprehensive reply so I'm just going to tell you that you will survive and live to see another day.

I had a sister that went to juvie for a time - I have no idea why - but she became friends with her probation officer and they're still friends today (my sister's now 61 and the PO is 83). My sister was never a bad person and going to juvie woke her up. She has a Master's and a family and a wonderful life.

You sound like you're going to be okay. You're underage and in Canada juvenile records can't be accessed once you turn of age (ask your lawyer about that), so your record won't follow you for the rest of your life. It's because everyone knows juveniles aren't always operating on four cylinders.

Make the best of a bad situation, like Jespah said. It's really not the end of the world. And she's right, too, about the judge. You could have gotten more time in juvie. A lot more time.

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bobsal u1553115
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 05:31 pm
90 days in juvie is a mild sentence.

If you want to get this behind you, admit your screw up might have killed someone and be glad you have a way out: take your medicine: do your time and sin no more.

Do everything Jespah suggested.
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Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2022 07:34 am
Agreed with all of the above.

From a mom who just recently has been going through some issues with her own daughter just a couple of years older than you...not legal so I can't speak to that but some other that are life impacting.

First off your parents love you very much. They are hurt and angry and very scared for you. They have cared for you and now you going away where there is nothing they can do to protect you. I am not saying this to guilt you...you seem very remorseful... I am saying that for you to understand how they are feeling.

The other thing everyone on here is saying 3 months is a short time..yes it is but I do also understand that 3 months feels so much longer for a teen. Take it one day at a time..focus on the now as you are going through this and come out as a better person. You are 17 you are able to get through this one day at a time, come out stronger and a better person. While you are there work on some positive goals for your future...is there a career you are interested in pursuing..a skill ? Start making some goals to obtain these.

You still have your whole life to show the type of person you can become. Today can be the first day of the rest of your life. The padt is the past you cannot change that but you have every power in your being to change your future.
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Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2022 12:49 pm
Since our antiquated criminal justice system is concerned not with rehabilitation but with punishment, the idea is that you will commit the same crime unless deterred by threats of further punishment. That you may have or may have not been rehabilitated already is, presently, of no concern to our justice system.

The greater concern is the damage of the neighboring farm that was caused by your fire. Perhaps a more useful sentence would have been to be forcefully employed by the victim free of charge until the damage was paid for, which could have taken months or years depending on the damage. In our justice system that is considered a civil crime and separate, so apparently nothing useful could have been done.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2022 02:57 pm
No doubt.There's a long list of coulda, shoulda, woulda; and a long cast of characters. We are a confused and contradictory society regarding who and why we incarcerate.

You'da made a good judge. I'da voted for you. There: one shoulda and one woulda right there.

Our system is purely one of the worst. The motto of the American Prison Industry is: "Thank gawd for the Russian and Chinese and Saudi prison systems."

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Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2022 04:50 pm
I agree that restitution is the best idea in this case. The consequences should fit the crime. I think she should have to a) apologize to the neighbour (if she hasn't already), b) ask what she can do to make reparations (and leave it up to the neighbour), and c) contribute financially to repair the damage since she was already working. In addition, she could have been put on probation for several months and learned about the consequences for people who break the law and/or cause damage. A trip to the local prison wouldn't go amiss, either.

It doesn't sound like she's a mindless girl or that she would do it again, but just showing her a possible future if she went down that road might go a long way to keep her reminded. Also, she could share the prison experience with her friends.
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