It’s that time of year again—Fall Ball, postseason baseball, the Fall Classic. I’ve always loved baseball. I still love to play catch and burnout and have a whole baseball collection. My brothers and I grew up in a baseball family. Our dad introduced us to baseball early on. He coached and sponsored our little league teams, and when it was clear we loved baseball as much as he did, he built us our own field of dreams . . . complete with a real cornfield in the outfield and wooden bleachers. “If you build it they will come.” People came every Sunday to play with us until it got too cold. Everyone always played, and the bags were really 909 apart. My dad always pitched.
My brother George always had a love for the game on a whole different level, though. All three of us kids collected baseball cards, but George memorized, and could recite, statistics about most every player. Baseball is a game of statistics.
Statistics. That got me thinking about our clients and our profession. How often do clients come in and want to know our personal stats and their odds? These are statistics that we don’t keep because the reality is that we are typically the underdogs. Real trial lawyers lose more cases than they win (certainly, if a win is judged by an acquittal). And we sure can’t guarantee or even insinuate a guaranteed outcome to anyone. The best we can do is promise our very best.
If we’re talking about statistics, though, here are some sobering statistics and numbers that do matter:
- 1989: the first DNA exoneration took place (http://www.innocenceproject.org)
- 263 inmates on death row in Texas as of January 1, 2016 (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org)
- $17,340: cost per year to keep inmate in prison (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org)
- $1.2 million: estimate of cost of death penalty case from indictment to execution (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org)
- 124 prison units in Texas (http://www.texastribune.org)
- 143,065 inmates in Texas prisons as of July 2016 (http://www.texastribune.org)
- 12 state hospitals (http://dshs.texas.gov/mhhospitals)
- 122 days: average wait time for a maximum security bed at a state hospital (reserved for those charged with serious violent crimes) as of April 1 (Department of State Health Services)
- 5: number of states, including DC, where marijuana has been legalized
- >200,000: number of students who have lost federal aid eligibility because of a drug conviction (http://www.drugpolicy.org)
- >$51,000,000,000: amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs (http://www.drugpolicy.org)
- 3,197: members of TCDLA
- 125: criminal law seminars held by TCDLA/CDLP during the past fiscal year, including 77 webcasts
There is more to the numbers than what meets the eye. The statistics tell a story. They paint a picture that requires urgency and attention—a story to inspire action. We must all do our part for every client, every time. We are the front line—and we hold the line. Each of us individually and collectively can make a huge impact on the lives of those individuals and families navigating the uncertainty and harshness of the criminal justice system. We are the faces of empathy and humaneness for our clients in a system often lacking.
And as my dad always told us, “The things in life that count, ain’t things.”