If you were part of Cole’s Justice Circle, what kinds of information would affect your decision-making? What things have you learned about Cole and his life that provide you with some important clues to understanding him? How might this context affect your decision regarding the consequences Cole should face for his actions? Consider what you have learned so far about the YCJA and its intentions for youth. Explore this in a well-developed paragraph or two that includes specific supporting details from the novel as well as your inquiry
So far, in the novel Touching Spirit Bear, I feel that whatever has been laid out for Cole under the judicial system is made as fair and equitable as possible. This is because, considering his circumstances, the sentence that he was given under the YCJA was worthy of the crime he committed. Since Cole is above 14, he can in the future be charged and sent to jail for the serious crime he committed. Also since this isn’t Cole’s first offence under the YCJA, the charges laid out against him are more harsh and developed. By this, I mean that he would still be charged under the YCJA, but he could go to jail for his actions of essentially assaulting Peter.
Cole was essentially given a chance to live up to all those whom he had wronged and limit his jail sentence by going to the island and living there for at least a year. Although he initially went on the island with the intentions to escape, he ended up being in a close encounter with death. Cole’s view on life changed in merely a timespan of two weeks as he was left alone on the island to think and really considered his actions in the past. He soon realized that all the power he thought he once had was all ‘fake’. He realized that all this power he thought he had, really didn’t benefit anyone especially himself. He also realized that he did not want to die like this. This is what motivated him to push harder to survive on the island.
After he came back from the island, he went back to the circle and they re-evaluated his case. Initially they thought that his case should be sent to court as he could not complete his time on the island. Garvey and Edwin, however, advocated for his case and through this he was given a second chance to go back to the Island.
If I were part of the Circle of justice, I would listen to Cole’s side of what happened on the island, but from what the others were concluding in the novel, it is very unlikely to spot a spirit bear on the island that Cole was on. I would also be, as they were suspicious about how exactly he ran into such close contact with the big white bear. Another change that Cole went though as he was lying lifeless by the shore of the island was something he didn’t realize until later on. This being, that he would always try and tell the truth with the only proof being his word. This was quite powerful and Cole stuck by this even when no one else believed him in the circle while he kept to his word about coming in close contact with the bear. Although no one at the time believed him, he was strong enough to believe in what he saw and stick to it no matter what the consequences of this would be. I also believe in second chances and due to this if I were part of the circle, I would with certainty give one to Cole; to return to the island, prove himself and limit his jail sentence.
Cole, throughout his life, went through many traumatic experiences such as facing abuse from his father as a child. Also he was a first hand witness to both of his parents misusing alcohol. As a result of all this, he ended up being a young offender, facing trouble under the law several times. If I were to give him a chance to right what he had wronged, I would firstly assign him to anger management classes as this is something he was in dire need of. Also for the most part I agree with the circle’s decision to send him to the island. Going to the island was a chance for him to reconsider all those he had wronged and once his anger washed away, in came the feeling of loneliness, sadness and being afraid. Cole was flooded with these emotions, especially as he was clinging on to life. After this, he began to realize that what he had once thought was the way he should live his life, had merely been a way for him to feel dominant and better about himself. As the novel progresses I expect to further see a change in Cole as he transforms into more of a dynamic character and overcomes some of his biggest emotional barriers with the help and guidance of the symbolism that initially is the presence of the spirit bear.