Thalia, I too am glad that your father has been doing better. He didn’t deserve being attacked and the confusing feelings are what anyone would feel in your situation.
I have had similarly confusing feelings regarding my students. I teach in an almost all-black, high-risk school in Baltimore City. In October, I had one kid who came back after being locked up from juvy. He was a smart and very bright kid and I wondered what he could have possibly done wrong, but as the year went on, more and more misbehavior began to unravel. In one instance, he slammed a door on my hand.
Every adult who heard about this told me I had to press charges. I didn’t, because he was my student and I knew the possible ramifications if I pressed charges on a kid who had been through the juvenile detention system. The misbehavior only got worse because he got the sense that he could get away with whatever he wanted. I eventually had to press charges for another incident that completely crossed the line.
As much of an idealist and opponent of mass incarceration I am, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for people’s actions. I learned that the hard way.