A lifetime isn’t forever, so take the first CHANCE, don’t wait for the second one. Because sometimes, there aren’t second CHANCES!!! And if it turns out to be a mistake, so what! That’s life! A whole bunch of mistakes! But you can never get a second CHANCE at something you didn’t take a first CHANCE at and that’s true failure!!” C. Joybell C.

About 6 months ago, I was assigned a Forensic case involving a client that was arrested for robbery and who was facing a felony charge. He and his girlfriend were walking around Hollywood, and he saw a gold chain that he liked. He asked the vendor to see it and once he had it in his hand, he put it in his pocket and tried to run. He didn’t get very far. Men with bats came out from everywhere and commenced to beating his A-S-S. The police were called, he was hospitalized, and when he was released, he was placed in custody. He was out on his own recognizance. Professionally, I’m not a probation officer, I work with individuals that have various types of developmental disabilities. Although, this guy was no longer a client, when he was arrested, the judge requested that his case be reopened. She was giving him A CHANCE!!! Immediately, I began reading his previous reports and they discussed his goals and aspirations and reflected the hope that he once had regarding his future. I wondered what happened? How did that guy become this guy? Somewhere he’d lost hope and needed to believe he was worthy of succeeding. He needed to give himself A CHANCE!!! A CHANCE to love himself for who he is, not who he sees himself as. A CHANCE to live the life that he deserves, not the one he’s currently living. A CHANCE to succeed, not accepting a failure before ever trying. He needed to believe he deserves A CHANCE!!! Much like my client, we’ve all experienced paralyzing fear of the unknown that has caused us doubt. We could all benefit from giving ourselves A CHANCE!! Do you need A CHANCE? Do you give others A CHANCE? Are you giving yourself A CHANCE? I AM, well, at least I’m trying to!!! So for this week’s blog, let’s talk SHIP about the importance of giving ourselves and others A CHANCE!!

After familiarizing myself with his background and history, I called his mother and set up our initial meeting via Zoom. His mother said she’d let him know and would text him the meeting link. On the day of the meeting, his mom and I were there but he wasn’t. During the meeting, his mother shared that she had him at 16 years old, his father was never in his life, and that he has never accepted having a disability. Forty-five minutes into our call, he joined the meeting while on the bus with his friends. I introduced myself, explained that we were wrapping up the meeting and reiterated the severity of the felony charges that he was facing. I explained that he was being given A CHANCE and suggested that he take it more seriously. I asked him to call me the following week so I could complete his report and submit it to the court. Two weeks passed and no call. When I called him, I questioned whether his intent was to go to prison or was he going to accept the CHANCE that the judge was offering? He said, he wasn’t trying to go to jail. So, I explained that in order for him to have A CHANCE at freedom, he could no longer waste any more of my time.

We began speaking once a week and I shared that from reading his reports, it seemed as if he was a goal-oriented young man, who somehow just got off track. I reminded him that the judge was giving him A CHANCE to avoid facing a felony, picking up a strike, and going to prison for 10 years by offering him A CHANCE at diversion. After attending a few court sessions, he began trusting me and opened up. He shared that he lacked self-confidence and was embarrassed about his skin because of bad eczema, and that he never accepted being diagnosed with Mild Intellectual Disability. I emphasized that he could live a productive life with his disability and that I would put in place the supports he needed to address all of his other issues. With him on board, I made arrangements for him to enter a diversion program but he needed to be vaccinated first. Although he admitted that he was fearful of getting the Covid vaccine, he agreed to get it. Ten days before his next court appearance, the diversion program called and informed me that he missed 3 appointments to get the vaccine and that they were no longer interested in working with him. The diversion plan that I’d put in place had unraveled and I had to notify the court.

At his court date, his public defender, and I spent 45 minutes making him understand that the judge was offering him A CHANCE at diversion in lieu of prison and encouraged him to stop bull shitting and seize the opportunity. She laid out that the next time, he showed up in court, he needed to be vaccinated, if not diversion would be off the table and he’d go to trial and face 10 years in prison. Having already wasted our time for 3 months, he finally listened. He decided he get the shot and I made a same-day appointment for his vaccination. The appointment was at a CVS down the street from my house, so I lingered in the aisle to see if he’d actually show up and he did. When I saw him, I left without saying a word but 30 minutes later he texted me a picture of his vaccination card. I immediately sent it to his public defender who was elated. A few days later, I found another diversion program willing to accept him and resubmitted his diversion plan to the court. Last week, he appeared in court again and despite the prosecutor’s objection to the diversion plan, the judge made her ruling. She gave him A CHANCE!! She gave him 2 years of diversion and if he’s successful and completes the plan, he won’t receive a strike or have a criminal record. YAY!!!

While working with this young man, I realized that some of the consistent blockages that we experience in our lives are primarily caused by us. We allow our fears to keep us from our accomplishing our goal and dreams. We need to give ourselves A CHANCE to live the best life possible and if we can, we need to also give others A CHANCE. I was amazed at the willingness and efforts of the judge and his public defender to give this young man A CHANCE to get back on track. Over these past few months, this guy has grown and now believes that he deserves A CHANCE too. He’s realized that sometimes we need others to believe in us until we can believe in ourselves. Every time we talk, I share that I believe that he can and will succeed. That he will break the generational curse and can have any life that he chooses. I let him know that if he wanted a better life, he was the ONLY one that could create it. He understands that in order for him to have A CHANCE, it required that he make some CHANGES!! And so far, he’s beginning to believe it…..because now, he’s making the changes to give himself A CHANCE. Are you giving yourself A CHANCE to be the best that you can be? To have that life that you desire? You should because WE ALL deserve A CHANCE!!!

SHIP TALK: Are you giving yourself A CHANCE? Do you give others A CHANCE?

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2 Replies to “A CHANCE!!!”

  1. Thanks, Kim but for doing my work, I am blessed too. Like I said I learned some things. But, I have to take my hat off to the judge and the public defender, they really were on his team. Now my job becomes ensuring he gets the supports he needs to succeed and I am going to do just that.

  2. Val you are a blessing to your clients. Working in a courtroom I see a lot of individuals who just don’t Believe in themselves. I can’t say anything to them when I see them passing up a chance to do better and it hurts when the chance passes them up. All I can do is shake my head. I see them and can’t help thinking of my sons. Keep doing what you do to encourage your clients to take the Chance on themselves.

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