April’s parole hearing was scheduled for 10 o’clock that morning. She sat in her cell, stared at the wall and waited until the guards came for her. Roberta asked if she wanted to be alone. April said she didn’t care.
Roberta tried to lighten the mood by saying, “you know it’s not called a parole hearing around here. It’s called a ‘hopeful denial’ hearing.”
April knew her consideration for release hinged on “the question.” It always did. Sitting motionless in a chair in front of a panel of people who thought they knew what reform and readiness to rejoin society really meant, she resented being judged by their rules.
Rules that were written years ago onto a now obsolete pile of papers, and adopted as absolute law, constructed to make the “exert specialists” feel good about giving a lowly convict a second chance.
Say the right thing…beg…cry…plead. Boast about starting a class for the inmates who could barely read…say you were growing your hair to be donated to children with cancer…and the one that got the most attention…tell them that you had found your God. Anything convincing enough to make the “powers that be” believe that you had been reformed…worked.
April knew the spiel. She knew what she had to say, and she knew what they wanted to hear.
The first to speak was Mr. Taylor, a stout, sweaty, bespectacled man, who began the usual inquisition with his pseudo, soft-spoken benevolence, as if talking to a child. He had been on the panel before and hadn’t changed, other than being a few years older, as was April.
At some point during the hearing, he said, “Ms. Drummond. We understand the immense grief you have suffered…”
Before he could finish, April looked at him and said, “do you? Do you really? How many of you have suffered immense grief?”
The panel looked back and forth at each other as if somewhat embarrassed. Mr. Taylor said, “despite the horrific events you endured, you cannot take the law into your own hands. That is why we have a judicial system. If everyone took the law into their own hands, there would be utter chaos. Don’t you agree?”
April looked at him and said, “no. There would be justice.”
Mr. Taylor sighed…and asked “the question.” April sat in the chair, still motionless and silent.
“Ms. Drummond,” he said. “The only reason you have been considered for parole is due to certain extenuating circumstances. There is and always has been a certain amount of sympathy for you but…you must answer the question.”
Two full minutes of silence was interrupted only by the sound of “DENIED” being stamped on the application.
To be continued___________