I am writing this article as a plea. A plea for goodness, for honesty to triumph. A plea for help.
As a counselor and chaplain’s assistant, I have worked in prison ministry for over 20 years. I have been around the court system, working with all kinds of down-and-out people, both inside prison walls and out.
For many years at Lighthouse, as part of our ministry here, we hosted a residential recovery program. Many marginalized and poor individuals came to live and rebuild their lives. In the past eleven years, we have helped over 60 people gain a new chance at life and find renewed hope.
Having had this rich experience, I learned a great deal — like how to judge when a person’s character is good and when it is not.
We all know that terrible crimes are committed by dangerous people. Crimes are also committed by people who are mentally disturbed or by those on drugs, and we all know we need to keep our localities safe.
High commendations go to good and honest officials, policemen, lawyers, judges, and prosecutors motivated to help us remain safe as we live in our world. I can’t say this enough in commending such people who work for the good of others with pure hearts.
However, we must all be made aware: sometimes an innocent person is convicted of a crime. Sometimes he loses years of his life, loses his reputation, goes to prison, and is shamed before all. No one is there to assist or support such a person. She is stuck, and suffers a mighty and grave injustice, for she has been charged and convicted wrongfully.
Oh, the travesty of such an occurrence! Who can fathom the crushing effects on the life of the one who is wronged?
Let me tell you what it has been like to get to know two such innocent persons, both of whom are upright in character and upstanding people to all who have known them. Becoming personal friends with two men in this situation has been a devastating experience for me! Indeed, when an experience becomes personal — something one feels, sees, and touches personally — such a reality is no longer just a sad, distant story one may read about in a magazine or hear about on television. Such a scenario becomes real and gripping, and has become so for me!
I would like to ask you, the reader, how you would feel if you were such a person, having done time in prison for a crime you didn’t commit? All the world believes you are wrong. You are evil or bad. Your chances for vindication when you get out (in most people’s eyes) aren’t very positive or high.
How you would feel if you were part of such a person’s family. How would you feel if you were his mother, his wife, brother, dear friend, or sister?
Such a trials could surely make one bitter. Imagine how it could ravage a person’s family! Nevertheless, in the case of both people, who have become my very dear friends, neither has become vengeful or resentful. Both want to do good in life, to help others in whatever ways they can.
Needless to say, having had the privilege, twice, to become such friends with two extraordinary persons, I have been deeply moved and profoundly inspired. If I were to have suffered such a betrayal and such a wrong, would I carry myself with such dignity and grace?
Hence, as part of the ministry of Lighthouse, we want to always speak up when something is wrong; we want to always let our voices be loudly heard in standing with the most uncared for of all.
I ask you, dear reader, to think about such a nightmare. If your son or daughter were ever wrongfully charged and wrongfully convicted of a crime he or she didn’t commit, what would you do? How would you feel, and where would you turn for help with such a huge load?
*Note: Lighthouse Inc. in Scranton is a 501(c)(3) corporation.
We subsist solely through the generosity of others, and no one here is paid a salary.
If you can help us in any way financially, or with volunteer practical assistance, your help would be most gratefully appreciated.*
Mailing address:Lighthouse in Scranton
PO Box 199
Scranton, PA 18504
Phone: (570) 341-5858