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"I have no idea," answered Abby, as she found an empty spot in the crowded parking lot.

Dick met the group at the front door, and led them down a long hall to the ever-crowding courtroom where the hearing would take place. Even though a courtroom was being used, this was not a legal proceeding, so no one was at the judge's bench. Instead, a long table was placed at the head of the room, where the Commissioners were seated in a row. In front of them were five chairs and a table with microphones on it, where the witnesses would give their testimony. In back of this, were rows of seats where people came to watch. Many of the people present were reporters, while others were the witnesses themselves, waiting to be called upon to give their accounts.

Dick showed John, Terry, and Abby, to some empty seats, and then took Jake to the small table where they both sat down. The other witnesses took their places at the table and waited for the hearing to start. Nervously, Jake glanced back at Abby, who smiled bravely at him.

"If everyone could please be seated," began a man at the large table, "we can get these proceedings underway. Thank you." He cleared his throat. "I want to start off by stating that no matter what the crime is, no sentence in America has ever included the forcible sodomy of another individual as part of their punishment. The purpose of this commission is to gather accounts and testimony to get an idea of the scope and pervasiveness of prisoner abuse in our justice system. The members of this commission include former judges, activists, and experts in their respective fields. This morning, we're going to hear from five witnesses: Richard Doyle, Jake Murphy, Howard Graham, Maria Lopez, and Franklin Jones. Each witness will give their account, and then will answer questions by the Commissioners. Our first witness is Richard Doyle, former warden of the Watertown State Penitentiary. He has worked for more than thirty years in the New York Department of Corrections. You may begin, Mr. Doyle."

"Thank you," said Dick, putting on his glasses and looking over the prepared statement he would read from. "I'm grateful to be here today, and I pray that much good will come from this commission. As many of you here might already know, Governor Smith..." as Dick continued, Jake's attention slowly strayed.

Jake looked back again at Abby, who was seated across the room with John and Terry. After seeing that she was still there, he tried to turn his attention to Dick's testimony. Half an hour later, Jake suddenly heard his name. The moment was upon him.

"Our next witness is Jake Murphy," said the man at the long table. "When Mr. Murphy was fifteen, he killed his father and was sentenced to sixteen years for second-degree murder at the Watertown State Penitentiary for adults. After serving nine years of his sentence, Mr. Murphy was released on parole, and is here today to give his account of life behind prison bars. You may begin, Mr. Murphy."

The twenty-four year old man leaned forward in his chair and gingerly arranged the sheets of paper he had written the night before, on the table in front of him.

"I'm sorry," he apologized, "this isn't easy for me."

"That's all right," said the man, "you're doing fine."

"My name is Jake Kyle Murphy," began the ex-convict, taking a deep breath, "and I was an inmate at the Watertown State Penitentiary for nine years-- two of which were spent in solitary confinement for my own safety. During my incarceration, I was repeatedly..." here Jake hesitated. He looked back at Abby, and then whispered something to Dick, who was sitting beside him at the table.

"I'm sorry," apologized Dick, "but Jake would like to ask that Mrs. Abigail Murphy be escorted from the courtroom before he proceeds."

"Very well," said the man. "Would Mrs. Murphy please wait in the hall until her husband's testimony is over?"

Abby desperately wanted to fight it, but all eyes were upon her, and she didn't want to make a scene. Reluctantly, the young woman got up and went to the hall, as requested. She didn't think it was fair that her father and Uncle Terry could stay, while she had to leave! Annoyed, Abby looked though the small glass window in the courtroom door, but all she could see was the back of Jake's head. Unable to hear a word of what he was saying, Abby could only wait until it was over.
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