Sasha stands outside of Department 11 wearing a long skirt and “ballet flats.” Their canvas purse is covered in LGBTQ buttons and others that simply read “they/them/their.” Debbie and Karl are there too. It is the last Friday in June 2015. Today is Richard’s second progress report, and if all goes well, his sentence will be reduced to five years and he will probably remain in the juvenile system and not go to an adult prison. Richard is coming in from Chad, and Jasmine had to get the day off from work—she has recently started a second job.
The buttons on Sasha’s bag are a gentle reminder of the importance of inclusive language. With a better understanding of Sasha’s gender identity, Slater ultimately argues, perhaps this senseless attack could have been avoided.
Richard’s court file is misplaced, and the judge is forced to postpone the progress report until the following week. Jasmine “slumps” in her seat. She will never get another day off from work. The judge does agree, however, to let Karl address the court. Karl speaks “on behalf” of Debbie and Sasha as well and tells the court that they have all “forgiven Richard.” They each believe that Richard “meant no bodily harm to Sasha.” Richard has shown remorse and has apologized, and they have “accepted.” “We hope that there are programs in juvenile detention that can at least help Richard with this, and that he can become an ally who will stand up against the bullying and hatred of gay and trans people,” Karl says. “Thank you,” Richard silently mouths.
When Richard silently thanks Karl, they all achieve closure and healing, but it has taken them years to get to this point. Potentially, Richard and Sasha could have reached this desired conclusion much sooner (with less pain and suffering for all involved) if restorative justice had been an option for Richard’s punishment. Additionally, Jasmine’s second job is further evidence of Oakland’s inequality. She must work twice as hard as those who have more money and better opportunities.