When thanks isn't deserved

I received such a kind note today from the wife of a prisoner, and I honestly felt guilty.

Some background.

I have worked to help Ray, an African American, for years. He's wrongly convicted, and he has now been in prison for 40 years.

Ray is a fine, fine artist. He has painted beautiful murals in some of Michigan's prisons, and has gained the appreciation and respect of many of the prison staffers. He's a kind, gentle man who has many friends inside and outside of prison.

I have sent letters on behalf of HFP to the Parole Board.

I have featured many of his pieces of art in a prison art show.

I have a treasured piece of his, painted just for me, hanging in the office.

I drove to Detroit to attend an all-day symposium with participants from the US and Canada---attorneys, innocence people, journalists, investigators. Everyone was convinced of his innocence, and everyone pledged to work hard. But eventually everyone found other things to do, as it became apparent that this was an uphill fight all the way.

I prowled through several trailer parks in western Michigan, hoping to find a witness who could help in proving his innocence...to no avail.

I feel helpless. I'm familiar with that feeling, because it was a way of life when I was trying to help Maurice Carter.

And the guilt hit me even harder today when Ray's wife sent a message asking if I would once again write a letter on his behalf to the Parole Board. Then she said: "I hope you know we have the utmost respect for you and everything you do and have done for us. We hope you are well, have seen your picture in the newsletter and you look good. Take care of yourself, you are needed and loved by so many!"

Undeserved until Ray is a free man.


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