This entry is part of a series from an upcoming book telling the real story of Talib’s life behind bars and his eventual return to society. By sharing his personal story, he hopes to shed light on the issues faced by many youth today, and the problems faced by juveniles sentenced as adults as they make their way through the prison system, rehabilitation, and reentry. All blog posts which are exerts from this forthcoming book are categorized under “Talib’s Story“.
One of the reasons that i am writing this book is to point out a few things as it concerns the way that juveniles are treated in the adult system. it is a legal practice that prior to trial one has a hearing to deem if this person is legally sane to stand trial. I don’t know what all of that means in the court of law in terms of what they use to make that determination but i can say that during my ordeal i was not fully aware of what was going on. The only thing that i had to go off of was my lawyer telling me that this is the way that things were. for a juvenile that is facing any time, the thing that comes up most is that they are young enough to do 20, 30 and 40 years. At least this is what i was told by my lawyer, who tried to get me to take a 30 year plea. I think of that a lot in terms that had i took that plea that i would have 10 more years to do, as of this writing. that is a lot of time.
what is crazy about my situation was that after i took back the plea that i took initially for 30 years, my lawyer was upset at me. i didn’t understand why she was upset about what i was about to do with my life. it wasn’t until years later that i found out that she had other issues as it concerned her personal life that made he unfit to be an attorney, issues that would years later find her in front of a judge and jury herself. most people think of our criminal justice system and those involved with overseeing it do be perfect and fully competent in the way that they handle those that find themselves caught up in it. that is the furthest from the truth!
now it was time to prepare for trial. during this stage i had no idea as to what was going on in the court room. i do remember my lawyer telling me to just sit here and doodle or write if something came up that i didn’t agree with. there was a lot that i didn’t agree with but that didn’t make for legal arguments. i didn’t understand the dynamics of the law so i put all of my trust in the hands of this lawyer, something that 99% of the people who have to deal with lawyers do. they leave it up to them.
my trial was a disaster, in terms of not having a defense so when it came time for closing arguments i decided to take the stand and defend myself. i mean there were other elements to my case that we not mentioned and i just could not see me not saying my side. i had no codefendants so i didn’t have the worry of being labeled a snitch, which is a big disgrace in prison. so i got on the stand in my defense and said hey this is what happened and it was not supposed to happen that way etc.
the jury went back to deliberate and came back with a guilty verdict of a lesser included offense which gave me a 20 year sentence, 10 years shorter than the “gift” of the 30 year plea that they offered me. the 30 year plea was supposed to be a plea that would spare me from having to spend the rest of my life in prison, yet i risk it and go to trail and get a far lesser sentence!!
this is the case with many juveniles that have bad legal representation and who are not fit to stand trial as “adults” for their offenses. there is no way that a kid can fully understand the legal system to know what is best for them. most of society don’t know how it works. had i not been stubborn or brave enough to get on the stand and defend myself i would be stuck with a 30 year sentence. i do not say this to justify or minimize my offense but merely to point out some of the things that need to be looked at when juveniles are adjudicated as adults.