Saturday, March 24, 2012

The heartbreak of collapsed support

Anyone who has been in business is braced for occasional disappointment. Stuff happens. A deal falls through. A major account is lost. A key person switches loyalties. Each time it's difficult, but you learn that you must press on, and that usually better days are ahead.

For a prisoner, such types of disappointments become monumental. This is especially true when legal support collapses.

A few weeks ago one of our friends informed me that his attorney apparently took him to the cleaners. Not only did he fleece the prisoner and his family of thousands of dollars, but he also failed to produce. There were huge promises, and with that came a substantial downpayment. But then red flags started popping up. Failure to call at agreed upon times. Failure to show up for meetings. Failure to accomplish promised legal goals. It's one thing in business to grab your bootstraps and start again. It's another thing when you're in prison, and you've placed all your hopes on the work of this one person. Hopes for freedom. Hopes for recovered losses. What comfort can we offer this man?

And this week it was my job to inform another dear friend that his legal support had collapsed. A reputable innocence agency just dropped the ball. I don't know any other way to describe it. Agreement was made to involve university students, numerous legal documents were reviewed and discussed. There was obviously a wrongful conviction here, and the hope of the wrongly accused were high. But the same story...eventually the prisoner was hearing nothing. No word for months at a time. Then it became years. Well, other issues came up according to the agency, and the case got sidetracked. The university students graduated and moved on. This kind of heartbreak is monumental. Indescribable. And where does he go from here? And what comfort do we offer?

Big responsibility, this business of befriending and helping prisoners. Not to be taken lightly.

Pray for inmates and their support systems.

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