Saturday, June 23, 2012

On alternatives, or lack thereof

This is one of those times when I just don't know what to say. It's not fair to offer false hope. What do you suggest?

Here's the situation. You can be convicted of first degree murder without actually committing the crime. If the court determines that you aided and abetted, you can go to prison for life with no chance for parole.

And that's what happened to my friend Ms. D. She's been in prison for 28 years, has done a fine job of improving her situation and helping others. She's a good prisoner, minds her own business, and gets involved in programs. But, she's giving up hope, and I hate that.

She doesn't want to go through another attempt at having her sentence commuted. We tried that once, and the Parole Board wouldn't hear of it. The emotional turmoil is very unpleasant, and she refuses to put herself through that wringer again. Besides, she says, no one believes her story anyway.

And the other alternatives?

Well, if she gets terribly ill, she could get a medical release. She's healthy.

The law could change in Michigan, and she might get another chance. It's one of those situations like when pigs fly.

Or, someone could try to get her case back into court, and have her properly resentenced. It ain't gonna happen.

Here's a perfectly healthy, 48 year old woman, causing no problems, spending her time behind bars when she could be a productive citizen. I have no idea what kind of hope or encouragement to offer, and I can't stand the thought of it.

I'm 75, but I still wake up with new hopes and dreams and exciting ideas every day. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live without hope.

Says Ms. D, "For people like me, it feels like we've thrown away the key."

Have we?

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