“You’re only 19 or so,” Lam’s judge said to him at the hearing. “I’m sure it’s difficult to conceive or imagine that many years in custody. But I think that leads some people to go to trial and after they get a sentence with life, then think, ‘what did I do? I’m here for the rest of my life, most likely.’ There’s not a huge difference, I don’t see, between 20 years and 25 years, when it means you get out. You can have a life. And quite frankly, for a fleeting moment, I thought, ‘Oh you want a trial? You want to spend the rest of your life in prison?’’’
By Debora Gordon Lam offered me contact information for his attorney, David Kelvin, who agreed to speak with me in last October. I felt limited in my knowledge of the criminal justice system, even though I’d taught American government. I’d had no first-hand experience with the law beyond the very occasional moving violation, and a …Read more…
“On the topic of forgiveness. I have always felt we all deserve a second chance.Would I be able to forgive the person who rape and killed my daughter? I can’t say for sure because I would know. But I’ve forgiven the people or person who shot me. If you think about it, I put myself in that situation and that was part of the gang banging life style. So why should I keep that hatred for them when I am moving on in life.”
“Being locked (up) is not a good thing but for some like me, we need a scary situation to set us straight. If only there were a machine who can tell if a person has truly learn and have change for the better. I would be release real soon. Being in here has stop a lot of my plans and goals but I look at is this is time to build a better me for the future. It is what it is.”
Dear Ms. Gordon, Unfortunately, I am the Lam Vo your (sic) looking for.
The essay described an evening in May or June of that year, in which he was riding around Oakland in a car with some other teenage boys he claimed not to know very well. At some point during long the way, they gave Lam a gun, and the boys together attempted to rob a corner store.
I responded to the email Lam sent from Juvenile Hall within an hour of receiving it. That was more than 5 years ago, so I am trying to look back and remember what I was feeling and thinking about him back then. I was very moved that he was reaching out to me, the clichéd …Read more…
Towards the end of the very last week, his mother came to see me unexpectedly. No one on our staff knew Vietnamese, and she spoke virtually no English. All she could really say was “Lam jail, Lam jail.”