Sandy C. Freese
Well...I am in contact with many individual advocates and groups. There is little financial gain, if any. Sleep doesn't come easy, as we are concerned about our incarcerated brother and sister citizens and those reentering society. Early mornings to late nights of emailing, phone calls, and research become the norm. Some, under the guise of solidarity, are competing with one another rather than pulling resources for the greater good. So, what makes our work worth it?
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been 129 exonerations in 2020 alone. That is 129 wrongful imprisonments, 129 citizens who have been freed. Had no one advocated for these individuals, they would most likely still be behind bars. Now let's consider the other benefits of this work. I spoke with Sincere Johnson of Texas yesterday; she writes letters to over 20 incarcerated citizens. Having a tie with those outside the system is beyond important; these men and women know they are not forgotten. They know they matter. When I receive an email expressing genuine gratitude for simply caring about an individual, my day is much warmer. When I receive an article from an individual behind bars, or artwork, or a virtual card, I realize that this passion of mine, of many, is well worth the time and effort.
The talent of many of our incarcerated population is undeniable. The sheer emotional strength displayed by many of them is refreshing. The fact that many have become mentors and are working with others inside to discourage them from making negative choices is amazing. While they sit, day after day, longing to go home, they are making a difference. Their strength enhances my desire to help in any way possible.
Rehabilitation is not only possible, but is taking place. Accepting guilt and moving forward in a positive direction is happening. Many have outgrown their criminology and are no longer a threat to society. Many are struggling from mental health issues and addiction and are not receiving proper treatment. There are others, we are aware, that are not guilty of the crimes they were convicted of. They sit, they all sit.
Is it worth it to write a letter to one of these individuals, or to work with others to bring forth positive change within our society? I say, "Absolutely!" What say you?