I was talking to a guy recently who is 41 years old. He’s been in prison since he was 19 and was sentenced to 75 years for murdering a man, a friend he did drugs with. He’s another case of “Whatever he was, he ain’t now.” He’s taken time to drill down into his core values and he’s a really decent person, changed. But 75 years is a long time. He was humbled by it, as would be the hope of the judicial process. I asked if he felt that clemency or using the state’s new resentencing measures might be in the cards. He said he struggles with it… “What would the family of my victim think?” These are usually the words I look for when I consider investing time in someone here. It shows a distinction about the change process the person has undergone.

But this guy stepped it up another notch. He explained the details that his case is legally bankrupt. The prosecution created a lot of fluff for the sentencing and he has all the legal evidence to redo his whole case (this happens way more often than any lawyer would ever admit). But, he knows he has a really good argument. Here’s where it gets tricky… what if he did any of the clemency, resentencing, or retrial and it all failed? He’s still stuck with the time, but then he wouldn’t have hope. This idea floored me… While he has options, to fail while using them erases them and he keeps his mind at ease by knowing they exist in parallel with the needs of the victim’s family. The knowledge that they haven’t failed, because they haven’t been used, sustains his sense of hope. Paralyzed in hope. Perhaps in another decade he may reconsider, but for now, he simply clings to his hope and his rehabilitation discoveries…

by Rory Andes

Sometimes my heart breaks during these conversations…

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