Monday, November 24, 2014

On taking a life, and saving a life

Something beautiful happened in Muskegon.

A candle-light vigil was held on the campus of Muskegon High School over the weekend to discuss the way their friend Jessica Lynn Brewster has impacted their lives.  In case you haven’t read or heard, Jessica is the 17 year old girl now being held on an open murder charge, after the body of her newborn baby was found buried nearby.

Muskegon senior Elizabeth Kurdziel, who organized the event, was quoted as saying, “We’re here in remembrance of Jessica’s baby and to support her.”  And the phrase that was being used time and again, one which began on Facebook, was: We are Jessica.

This may not seem like a relevant topic for the guys who run HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS.  To the contrary, it’s one that Matt and I have been talking about, and one that deserves a lot of discussion.

Another life is at stake here.  If the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office goes ahead with a charge of first degree murder, and gets a conviction, this little girl will receive a life sentence without parole.  We often hear the argument, “The little baby didn’t get a second chance...why should the mother?”

Gregory T. Roberts, a Muskegon volleyball coach, is also a pastor, and he offered a prayer at the vigil.  The Muskegon Chronicle quoted him as saying, “You never know what a person is going through.  If maybe we had been a little more compassionate and understanding, this might have been avoided.”

The caring and loving students were not without their critics.  “People call us names and say we’re stupid for supporting her,” said senior Charity Ellis.  “Who are they to judge her?  Who knows what she is going through?”

Being tough on crime is an understandable position in Muskegon County, where they seem to get more than their share of criminal activity.  But there’s gotta be a better ending to this story than life behind bars for a troubled little girl.

That harsh response to this tragedy would simply make it worse.  A second life would be taken.

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