I know what David’s feeling, and I don’t blame him. I suspect he never wants to help a prisoner again. David got burned.
It wasn’t that he had a lot of money to throw around. He was just convinced that his friend Kenny was innocent, and had been railroaded by the judicial system. And so he became the friend that almost every prisoner would appreciate. He wrote to Kenny daily, showing his constant support. He helped him financially, sending him $50 a month, something he really couldn’t afford. He bought him expensive books, new glasses, and helped in setting up a website. He had saved up $800 to repair a leaking roof, but because of Kenny’s pleading, he spent the money, instead, on a complete paralegal course. He paid for the man’s court transcripts out of his pension fund.
After all of this, he discovered that Kenny was a fraud. He had lied about the crimes. He had lied about his innocence. Turned out he was a master at extracting blood from a turnip. For more than a year, he was taking David for a sucker and getting what he could before the wishing well ran dry.
It’s all over now, and David is licking his wounds. “I feel totally betrayed.”
It would be easy to give up on all prisoners, and that must not happen. We speak from experience.
Years ago the HFP staff and board were convinced of Donnie’s innocence, helped to get him out of prison, then helped to get him established in the community, helped to get him a job, and basically just helped him get a new lease on life. And through it all, Donnie never abandoned his old life of crime, stealing from us during the very time we were trying to help! The story had a tragic ending, and we could have thrown in the towel.
We chose not to, and that decision is affirmed daily by heart-felt words of thanks and praise from hundreds of Michigan prisoners who feel our love and compassion, and appreciate even the smallest offer of kindness.
If we give up on prisoners, we join the forces of the enemy.
Said Desmond Tutu: We must not allow ourselves to become like the system we oppose.
Said Jesus: I was in prison and you visited me.