I went and saw one of my former students in jail this past weekend. Hakeem has been sentenced to 23 years with no chance of parole. He was arrested when he was 17.
He still looked like the 6th grader I knew. Same smile. A number of new tattoos.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. I’m not good at small talk under normal situations. The stakes are raised when you haven’t seen the person in about 6 years and they only have 30 minutes of contact with non-prisoners a week. The poor reception on the phone didn’t help anything but Hakeem seemed happy enough to see me that it didn’t seem to matter.
We talked. Apparently I need a hair cut because he thinks I look like Tom Brady. Hakeem also let me know that half my class is now in jail. He listed too many of those kids and what they were arrested for.
It’s not like I’m totally naive, I figured a number of those kids would end up in jail but each name I heard knocked me down another notch.
The whole thing has been eating at me more and more. So many people failed these kids.