I identify myself as someone that isn’t emotional about work. This has really changed through my time interning at Legal Aid. I have found myself picking up on small details that become very emotionally taxing. While I was observing a criminal court room, the sounds of the handcuffs being put on and tightened onto the young men had a huge impact on me. Every time I heard handcuffs tightening I flinched. It was like in those seconds that the handcuffs were going on, that person was loosing their freedom and who they were. The revolving door of young men being brought into the court room one after another made me feel like I was inside an industrial factory that was just bringing in and then spitting out young men every minute. These young men dressed in jail uniforms were the discussion of all conversations yet they were the ones that spoke the least. After siting there for hours I felt like I only heard a voice of one of the men maybe two or three times during the whole time I was there. Everyone around them was speaking about them and for them.
A young mother stood before the section where only attorneys can go in front of the judge and she was watching what would happen with her son’s fate. I watched a negative order be agreed upon and the son stood up with his hands ready to be cuffed. The mother watched feet away while her son was handcuffed and walked out of the court room. I could see the tears in the mother’s eyes watching her son be ripped away from her yet again.
The prosecutor stayed in her spot for the majority of the cases. She was scattered with frizzy hair. Her papers were everywhere and she was always searching for some type of paper that she couldn’t find. The cases just seemed like numbers on a file to her. She didn’t even look at the young male defendants as they walked in or as she talked negatively about them to the judge. I wondered if she actually ever considered the humanity of the young men she was talking about. One after another the young men would walk in, sit down, and the scattered prosecutor would look for the file and then ramble off to the judge twenty bad things about the defendant. I never saw someone that was walked in with handcuffs walk out without handcuffs. The jail uniform that the young men wore was a color similar to that of vomit.
During one case, the defendant was pleading guilty. It astonished me how many questions the judged asked him while he was pleading guilty. The judge asked around 50 questions to the young man about how he was guilty until finally allowing the young man to speak the words “guilty.”