After visiting the Limon Correctional Facility in July, StopDirectFile.org began corresponding with Erik Jensen. Though Jensen only participated peripherally in the crime, he was convicted of murder at the age of 17 in 1999. He is currently serving life without the possibility of parole. StopDirectFile.org will continue to correspond with Jensen over the coming months to ask him about his experiences with life in prison and a justice system that abandoned him before he was even old enough to influence it.
Hey there. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I was waiting for you to send the questions you wanted answered, but when I was told you already had, I went back and looked and it was so.
As to the answers:
1. The only access to computers we have is in an academic situation for typing or select programs. The Internet terrifies [Department of Corrections], and just about every appliance is seen as a gateway to it. So much of the population can’t even use a a computer at all.
2. Direct File takes all of the power originally meant to reside in state, judiciary and with individuals and assigns it to one person, who, with the aid of mandatory sentencing now dictates not only that the youth will be charged as an adult, but will face a certain sentence regardless of what a judge thinks. The justice system was always meant to provide a fair balance, but now it is tipped heavily. The advice I would give juveniles currently facing direct file is to A) hire a lawyer versed in juvenile and adult law, transfer proceedings and who will attack the right of the DA, appeal to the judge and demand proof after proof. The more knowledgeable you are, the better. Ignorance was my worst enemy.
3. The biggest difference now, as opposed to when I was a child, is my ability to reason consequences and to logic out other people’s motivations and empathize with their realities. As a kid, it was always me, me, me, and who cares what happens. As an adult, I am cognizant of the world and the small role I play in it, rather than the egocentric, careless viewpoint I had prior.