The heartbreak of helplessness


There’s nothing more frustrating, more heartbreaking, than knowing that someone is innocent and striking out with every attempt to do something about it. We do a lot of good things for prisoners in this office. But, our record with the wrongly convicted isn’t so great.

It’s on my mind again today as my friend Gary Weingarten takes another shot at freeing Ray Gray. Dear Ray has now served over 45 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He was one of our first clients. I started trying to help him back in the 90s. I’ve still done nothing that was effective. Frustrating.

It’s on my mind again today after chatting with my friend David, another old client, who served his full sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. He may have been released 8 years ago, but it would be a stretch to say that “he’s free.” He’s unemployed, he’s listed as a sex offender, he’s in terrible health, he’s indigent, and he lives in shameful conditions without even the luxury of running water. Is it any surprise that he’s so angry? I couldn’t help him then. I can’t help him now. Frustrating.

It’s on my mind again today as we put away the case file of another man named David. This David died of complications from pneumonia while in the hospital. But if the pneumonia hadn’t done the job, a broken heart might have. We were just about to inform him that we could find no more legal avenues to pursue in his quest for freedom. An innocent man who served 18 years, spending every day trying to find justice. He failed . I tried to help, and I failed. Frustrating.

It’s on my mind again today as I read the latest posting on Facebook from Jeff’s wife Lena. I believe in his innocence, but he’s already served 6 years for someone else’s crime. I stood by this couple in their prison wedding ceremony. I’ve tried to guide them in the right direction. Bottom line: I’ve not been able to help. Frustrating.

I’ve said it so many times: It is so easy to get in; so difficult to get out!

Prayers, today, for the wrongly convicted. It’s estimated that there are more than 1,000 of them right here in the Michigan prison system! Prayers that wrongful convictions will get more attention. Prayers for an improved justice system where the number of wrongful convictions can and will be reduced.

Imagine being charged with a crime for something you didn’t do.  Imagine being thrown into jail, alone and scared and seemingly defenseless. Imagine the injustice of being one of the wrongfully convicted.  This isn’t a movie plot based on a Kafka novel.  This is the fate of some people at the hands of some other people. 
Honey Novick, Poet





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