The judge sent him down for eighteen months, hoping he would use his time to ponder the impact of his burglaries on the victims.
Ponder? He’ll need more than time for that – he’ll need the loving care denied him as a child.
Last time we met he was already wearing the offender’s ankle tag he had destroyed at the start of this spree. We were at the railway station: he riding his BMX bike in tight circles, unable to stay still, though he’d been thrown off the station the week before for cycling on the platform.
‘I’m speaking to my mum again’, he said, but his sister was a ‘slut’ and he avoided her and her children, the eldest born when she was sixteen.
We’d worked together briefly after he’d been thrown out of a second primary school. He would watch for me at the corner of the street then either ride home to let me in or pelt across the park into a maze of streets and alleyways. ‘It might be what you’re wearing’, said my colleague Barbara, ‘but you’ll never know.’ Other days he would climb out of the bedroom window as I entered the front door.
Home was one of the rare places where I was never offered a cup of tea. Mother had a live-in boyfriend that she threw out when she ‘fell pregnant’ because ‘I don’t need him now I’ve got the bab’. Someone else needed him: he’d taken an interest in my student, playing football with him in the park. ‘It’s like having two kids about the place’, though he brought in money from his business.
My student needed his mother as well, but he was more of a burden, a problem to her than a beloved child.
Please pray for all damaged children in prison.