Monday, July 12, 2010

Instructing Mr. Pace

As some of you know, some years ago, I worked as a ship-riding Professor, as an instructor, with the Program for Afloat College Education (PACE). Yes, I was a PACE Instructor.

On December 17, 2007, I got a new client, Mr. Fredrick Pace, who was celebrating his 18th birthday that day. (Just 27 days after my Honorary Nephew Bryant. Aside to Mark and Barbara: *please* hug him for me.) By the time I was assigned to the case, Mr. Pace had already pled guilty to a second-degree felony, for firing a gun into an occupied dwelling. (They'd reduced the charge from Attempted Murder.) So, I'm stuck with trying to convince the judge that my client should not be locked up until his 21st birthday. Hmmm. . . . OK, Mr. Pace, it was an accident, right? The gun just went off . . . oh, six times?

--Gee, why use a revolver? With a Glock automatic you could put more than double that many rounds on target.

Well, Mr. Pace, would you please tell me *why* you fired into an occupied dwelling? You were ticked off at a drug dealer . . . and the 'older women' (about 20 y/o) you were with told you that since you were 17, the worst you could get was a couple of months of reform school? Uh-huh . . . and what law school did they attend?

I have had the experience of telling a juvenile that if he shoplifts after he's 18, that conviction can haunt him for the rest of his life. I tried my level best to make Mr. Pace understand that it was just dumb luck that he had not killed at least *one* person, maybe more, and that he could have been facing Life Without Parole. To nobody's surprised, Mr. Pace got permed.

Last month, I got the news that Mr. Pace's grandmother had requested that he receive Early Release, and I represented him at the hearing. Hmmm....let's see here...only a dozen disciplinary write-ups in the past 2 1/2 years. Well, your Honor, uh . . . so far this year, none of his write-ups have been for violent acts, and he has been making progress on his GED, so . . .

Somewhat to my surprise, the judge gave him early release. (Of course, he'll be on probation until Dec. 17th), and his grandparents stuck me as really decent people. (Father? What's that?)

The next day, I visited him at his grandparents' house. Obviously, he was getting ready for a photo shoot for Gentleman's Quarterly: dew rag, unshaven, large faux diamond earring, untucked short sleeve shirt, pants that came to the middle of his shins, large tattoo on the inside of his right forearm, and another good-sized tattoo on his neck. I encouraged him to continue working towards his GED, and even told him that since he was getting an "F" in history, if he wanted, I could tutor him, since I have a Master's in that subject.

Then he asked me if I could help him get a job. (WHAT??? Employers aren't lined up around the block to make him offers? Make sure you get a dental plan, stock options, and six weeks vacation.) I took a deep breath and told him "Lose the dew-rag, lose the earrings, shave, lose the neck tattoo, get a dress shirt, wear dress pants, get a necktie—if you don't own one, I'll buy you one, and show you how to tie it, and wear a jacket, and then we'll talk about it."

Surprisingly enough, 17 days later, I have not heard from him. Hmmm . . . however, I think I can get him a job. Does anyone need to get air conditioning—cheap and fast?

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