A Trip that Changed My Life: Cherish Freedom - My Family Travels

Bang! Bang! Bang! The pounding noise of the gavel brings me back to reality. I am at the Broward County courthouse and I am with my youth group from church. August 14, 2009 marks the date that I took a trip to the Broward county courthouse and Juvenile Center, the trip that changed my life.

Arriving at the courthouse, I had no idea what to expect. As we entered through the double doors of the courtroom, my knees began to shake and I felt my chest rising rapidly. In front of us were four boys in bright orange jumpsuits. We all quickly found seats and listened. Everyone raised out of their seats when the judge walked in. Once the Judge was seated everyone in the room fell silent. You could hear someone blink.

Once the cases began, madness in the courtroom began. The court clerk viciously began attacking her keyboard, and the lawyers went to work. The boys were charged for grand theft auto, and one for using a weapon. Moshey, a girl in my group leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I feel sorry for them.” I looked into her eyes and shook my head. I wrapped my hands around her while she curled her tiny body into my arms. Fortunately, the judge gave no immediate verdict; instead he arranged meetings with parents.

Following the visit to the courthouse, was a trip to the Broward Juvenile Center. As the van approached the center I saw insecurities within the youth. The laughter that once filled the van was now flooded with the waters of silence. As they observed the portables and dusty roads, reality set in. When we arrived inside the building we were greeted by a correctional officer named Mario. He opened a door and we all followed. Everything changed, the freshly painted walls became, dilapidated walls, and the fresh scent of the air became musty and smelt like filth. Everyone traveled down a hallway until the officer stopped in front of a conference room. Our behind the scenes became up close and personal.

I felt as though the juvenile center was a great way to expose the children to the world of consequences. The officer described the routine from when a child entered the facility to when they are given a roommate. Once a person is admitted, they have to be stripped down completely, and searched. Their belongs are confiscated and they are given a pair of USED undergarments. Looking around the room I saw the disgust pouring out of everyone’s eyes. The children had to be awake by five am, showers were done in the opening. The children are in school for the day, following lunch. The officer laughed and made a comment about the food. The youth chuckled but a blind man could see the discomfort in the room.

The officer discussed schedules, then digressed onto other topics. I was appalled at the details. Mario informed us that the children were like volcanoes and anything could make them irrupt. There were children who had been stabbed and molested. I closed my eyes and tried to censor the images that attacked my imagination. A whirlwind of humbleness stroke my soul.

To conclude the day, our coordinator asked us to share our feelings. As the camera turned to me I began to share. The day’s adventure showed me that I should be careful with life decisions. Those children lost the most important thing, the trust of their families and trust is like a popsicle, once it melts away its impossible to get back.


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