Shawn Smith - Remember Me

Shawn Smith
Letter to Mom
Shawn Smith was 13 years old. At the time of his death he was incarcerated at the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Daytona, Florida. Shawn complained that he was constantly harassed, bullied and beaten at the hands of those entrusted with his care. Those hands belonged to employees of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. On October 30, 2001 when the pain of dealing with his daily torture proved more that this child's ability to cope Shawn Smith completed suicide.
Shortly after his death, a friend of his grandmother wrote this letter on Shawn's behalf:

  Mom, When tomorrow starts without me and I’m not there to see, If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me; I wish so Much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today, while thinking of the many things, We didn’t get to say. I know how much you love me, as much as I love you, and Each time you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too; but when tomorrow starts without me, Please try to understand, that an angel came and called my name, And took me by the hand, and said my place was ready, in heaven far above, And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly loved. But as I turned to walk away, a tear fell from my eye, for all my life, I’d always thought I didn’t want to die. I had so much to live for, So much left yet to do, it seemed almost impossible, that I was leaving you. I thought of all the yesterdays, the good ones and the bad, I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while, I’d say good-bye and kiss you and Maybe see you smile. But then I fully realized, that this could never be, for Emptiness and memories would take the place of me. And when I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow, I thought of you, and when I did, my heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through Heaven’s gates, I felt so much at home. When God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne, he said, “This is eternity, and all I’ve promised you. Today your life on earth is past, But here life starts anew. I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last. And since each day’s the same way, there’s no longing for the past. You have been so faithful, so trusting and so true. Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do. But you have been forgiven and now at last you’re free. So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?”
So when tomorrow starts without me, Don’t think we’re far apart, for every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart!
[Terri Mestre is Mom. She can be contacted at Tmestre@cfl.rr.com]

An investigation by Mr. Hurtibise and the News-Journal sheds light on the abuse in juvenile facilities. Nothing much has changed since Shawn Smith died in the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center two years ago. Read the article; then e-mail Ron Hurtibise, Terri Mestre (justice4kids - Orlando) or Cathy Corry (justice4kids - Tampa Bay) with your story. Until more people speak out, nothing will ever change.


  Remember me?Shawn D. Smith
October 29, 2001
Remember us...
Danny Matthews May 31, 2003
Omar Paisley June 9, 2003
Willie Durden III October 13, 2005
for Shawn Smith
October 29, 2005

Shawn Smith two months
before his death in Volusia JDC.
    The Second Annual CANDLELIGHT VIGIL for SHAWN SMITH was held Thursday, October 30, 2003 at the Volusia County Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was here, on October 30, 2001, that Shawn died. He was 13 years old. Shawn suffered continual abuse at the hands of those entrusted with his care. Those hands belonged to employees of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.During the vigil, Terri, Judy Kay and Cathy listened as parents, leaving after visitation, told stories of abuse that never stops.
Mr. Bankhead, if you care at all, go to any juvenile facility in Florida and listen to the parents!
The vigil, October 30, 2003
Cathy Corry (left with sign) joins Terri Mestre (center with sign) at the second annual vigil for Terri's son, Shawn. Also pictured are Shawn's sister, Heather, and grandmother, Judy Kay.
  2002         2003    
Shawn with those who will forever care: Grandmother, JudyKay (l),
and Mother, Terri (r)
Shawn's Grandmother holds his picture during the second annual vigil of his death.
October 30, 2003


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