"The Courts Gave Me Six Years, I Gave Myself Life"
Posted April 27, 2012
On April 27, 2012 two inmates from among the 23,000 currently incarcerated in New Jersey spoke with emotion about their lives to Delbarton juniors and seniors. The Project PRIDE event, moderated by Michael Ritter, was part of Delbarton's annual pre-prom program to impress upon students the consequences of bad choices.
One speaker, a woman whose drunk driving killed a single mother of three children, is concluding a six year prison sentence. "The courts gave me six years. I gave myself life," she said. She lost a good job, her home, her marriage and six important years with her young daughter. The second speaker, a young man who started his college career sponsored by a Ford engineering program, fell into habitual drug use that led to his arrest for breaking and entering. "I am ashamed that I stole a sense of security from the families I robbed," he said. He is two years into an eight year sentence,
"I'll be forty years old before this is all behind me. If it ever really is."
The message from both was that even one moment of irresponsible behavior, getting into a car drunk, dabbling in recreational drugs because someone else is doing it, can lead to a lifetime of misery. A poster on stage said it all: "The worst thing you can do it to establish a criminal record. Avoid it at all costs."
The Delbarton prom takes place next Thursday, May 3rd. Moderator Pat Finn complimented students on how smoothly the process of making reservations, ordering tuxes is going. He expressed pride in the fact that year after year the prom private guards say that Delbarton's event is by far the easiest one to protect. "Let's keep it that way, guys."
But beyond one dance, beyond one night, the message today was this: appreciate the opportunities you have. Don't blow it.
"I wish I could go back and sit in the seat you're in", said the young man. "I wouldn't trade places with you, only because I wouldn't want any one of you to be where I am today."