Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tain't always fun

Ask anyone who works with prisoners. The good guys don't always win. The stories don't always have a happy ending. Twas never thus. Twon't ever be.

I'd have to go through the files once again to see how many years we worked for freedom for Ronnie. There were others who worked longer and harder than I did on this case, but I was in the middle of it.

I visited him in his lonely cell in the UP.

I was at his side for the Parole Board interview.

His buddy Mitch and I were at the prison gate when he stepped into freedom. It was the only case in the State of Michigan that I have ever heard of in which a prisoner was freed by the Parole Board even though he refused to admit wrongdoing and refused to show remorse. Until his last breath he maintained his innocence.

And it wasn't easy after he got out. There were uphill fights just getting him a place to live, getting him a driver's license, getting him a job, getting him a vehicle, trying to maintain a relationship, wanting nothing more than to be accepted, hoping for nothing more than a normal life.

But it was not to be.

Those who study the human mind can explain many more things than I can. I know that stuff wasn't going right for Ronnie. He knew right from wrong. He knew who his friends were. He was most grateful for love and assistance. And yet old demons persisted and refused to leave him alone.

I'm the last to know what really happened.

I know that a year ago I was very sick, and many thought I wouldn't make it.

And instead, he didn't make it. Ronnie couldn't cope with it any more, and took his own life.

Only God knows how many people were hurt by that decision, including a new bride and a new little son.

It was just a year ago. And God also knows that many of us are feeling bad these days. Even though we must admit that our lives are all the richer for having had Ronnie in the middle.

May his memory serve to give us even more compassion as we work with prisoners in the future.

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