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Jared’s Blog: Eleanor Roosevelt Essay

It’s weird, but ever since I wrote my last essay, I keep thinking about that Eleanor Roosevelt quote — “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.”

I probably shouldn’t say this, but my brother’s been offered a plea deal. Which, like most deals, means he has to say he did something, and in exchange, they give him some sentence that’s not totally horrible. Like maybe never even go back to prison.

This time last year, I’d never even met my brother, because my whole life, he’d been on death row. So the idea that maybe he’ll never go back to prison? That’s amazing.

And yet… I hate that he has to say he did something he didn’t do, just to get his life back. I feel so angry that he’s been backed into this corner. We’ve all been backed into this corner — I just said it myself. I want my brother to get his life back. But for that to happen, he has to live that life with almost everyone in the world thinking he’s a murderer. And this is, like, a best case scenario.

I’m sorry, but that’s just screwed up. Really, more than screwed up, but using a cuss word is an automatic F.

The angrier I feel, the more I feel like this is whole situation is totally screwed up. Here’s the completely insane thing: The more I’m starting to wonder…what does the Dean family think about this deal? Do they know about it? Does anyone tell them what’s going on with the case, or do they have to hear everything over the news?

In other words, maybe I’ve started feeling something that the Dean family has been feeling for years. Maybe this is what you’re supposed to feel when something bad happens that can never be put right — my brother can never get the past 19 years of his life back, but the Dean family will never, never, never get Hanna back.

Those two things don’t cancel each other out. I think they pile up on top of each other, and make a bad situation worse.

But maybe that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen. It’s like Eleanor Roosevelt said — justice isn’t all on one side or the other. It’s for both sides. Hanna Dean’s family lost a sister, and we lost a brother. They wanted her murderer punished, and he was. We wanted our brother set free, and he was. And the thing we each want most — to have Hanna back, to prove Daniel innocent — neither of us can have.

It doesn’t feel fair. It doesn’t feel right. But in a weird, sad way, I guess it is justice.

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