fiction · justice

Story Starter Challenge — Justice

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Teresa, The Haunted Wordsmith, has her daily Story Starter Challenge of:

Today’s prompt: “That was your third strike.”

Gianella had been a court officer for thirty years. Over time she learned not to go against what her adminstrators and mid-managers told her, especially when making court recommendations. There had been only two incidents where Gianella went against recommendations, and both times it had been to recommend not releasing individuals because they were dangerous to public safety. Both times Gianella had been written up for insubordination. That was ten years ago now.

When Gianella was assigned Bart Bendy’s case, it didn’t take long to see that Bendy was a socipath who needed to remain welded into a cell until the end of his life. As she gathered record after record from other jurisdictions in other states as well as reams of mental health assessment history on Bart, she was ever more convinced that Bart was a genuine predator that might even be a serial killer. Gianella was determined to make such an iron clad justification to keep Bart locked up for life that no interested party could see it any other way.

What Gianella didn’t know was that Bart’s grandfather was best friends with the judge, and Bart’s grandfather didn’t have long to live. His grandfather had shown up at the judge’s favorite watering hole one day. Over half a bottle of Dewar’s they reminisced about their boyhoods and how inseparable they’d been. The grandfather had been the judge’s best man and the judge was Bart’s sister’s godfather. As the night wound down, the grandfather told the judge about his terminal illness and put in the plea for leniency for his grandson. The judge looked into his old friend’s eyes and saw the sorrow and pain. He said nothing but gave the faintest hint of a nod.

The judge went to the administrator and instructed her to make sure the recommendation was 6 months jail time and then release on tether. The administrator told the mid-manager, and the mid-manager instructed Gianella to make the recommendation.

It was time for Bart’s sentencing. He had been found guilty of four counts of aggravated rape against women in their 70s and 6 counts of stalking with intent to assault. Further he had a lengthy rap sheet that spanned 20 years and 5 states. Bart had a history of being resistant to treatment and had barricaded himself into a room with an older female psychologist who he’d terrorized and touched inappropriately. His history of compliance during previous incarcerations and on community-based parole and probation were rife with non-compliance. Gianella recommended the maximum sentence for each conviction, to be served consecutively, with no possibility of early release.

Each of the other interested parties gave their recommendations. The prosecutor was with Gianella on the recommendation. The defense attorney pleaded for mercy and that Bart serve only half of the sentence and concurrently.

Judge Wilson stated, “I have heard all of the parties recommendations. Mr. Bendy, do you have anything to say for yourself?”

Bart said, “Your Honor, I am extremely sorry for what I have done and promise I will never do it again.”

Judge Wilson said, “I hearby order the defendant to serve six months in the county jail and be released on a tether after such time. The defendant may be released early due to overcrowding. That is my order. This hearing is closed.”

Gianella went downstairs to her office. Within five minutes, she was called to her mid-manager’s office. The mid-manager had Gianella shut the door behind her before sitting down. The mid-manager said, “That was your third strike.”

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