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Thursday, October 30, 2014

A White-Collar Wife's Lament, By Jane S, Connecticut - Innocent Spouse & Guest Blogger

Progressive Prison Project

Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Greenwich, Connecticut 

A White-Collar Wife's Lament

By Jane S., Connecticut - Innocent Spouse 
& Guest Blogger


This past month has been tough. I put off going to social services as long as I could. That isn't who I am........was. This past Sunday my son got a concussion in his hockey game and we spent the whole day in the er. Any self esteem that I had left is officially gone. I never was someone who went to Dr's without insurance. I had no choice. I never in a million years thought I would be a parent who can not take care of her child. That is how I feel now. Yes we struggled since this began but I never thought I'd need State assistance. I do not want it!

Why? I keep asking myself why? I just don't understand how anyone can't realize these are people lives they are playing with. I know it is all about "a win". I am so sick and tired of hearing of people who can't defend themselves be taken advantage of. They knew darn well that my husband was not receiving proper representation. How could they not? They could care less as long as we were all punished. For what? Where/when does it stop? He had a good job. We had insurance. We could pay our bills, mostly on time. We were about to get our lives on track. We were looking forward to putting this nightmare behind us. Instead we get 2.5 years. More than just us are still paying for this. The bank, his employer, the bills that now I have no way of paying. Sure it would have been an uphill battle. Now all of that went out the window. I am losing everything especially my husband and father of my children. I need state assistance and He is using state money to incarcerate him. In what world does this make sense? They say this is about the money. They have no problem wasting even more money. Delaying repayment of restitution. Taking someone who was paying taxes and contributing to society and making him become part of the economic problem.

They took accusations as fact because they didn't have the knowledge to understand what actually happened. They didn't care what happened. They didn't care he didn't have proper representation! They must have been ecstatic to roll all over him. Seems to me that the ones who are accused and can't afford a proper defense are paying unfairly. All while the ones who actually changed contracts get away with a slap on the wrist. Why? Large corporations who have teams of attorneys to fight would give them a negative win loss ratio. That is what it is all about! Wins and losses! In this case it wouldn't take much to fight because there was nothing much there. Certainly not anything that deserved this time.

Go for the little guy! Get that win! Congratulations! How does no one see what is happening? They are no different than the bully we all knew in school. They grew up and continue to bully. Abuse of power is disgusting. The whole system is warped. It is a game to them. It is destruction of a family to me.

So many stresses lately that I am unable to handle. Brian's blog hit home. It is infuriating. I must be getting used to the insanity of prison in my life. My husband has been a mess as well especially worrying about our son. He kept saying he should be there in the hospital with us and he should of been. He says no one there understands why he is so concerned about all of us. He never missed a first day of school drop off or a hockey game/practice. Our sons hockey schedule coincides with the visiting schedule and this makes it more difficult for Us. Our son is going on a month without seeing him. I hope to visit him Saturday on our daughters 20th birthday. What fun that will be for her. She loves her dad so it will be okay. I keep catching myself saying," how is this my life". It is!

I drove up to MA to say my goodbyes to a dear high school friend. It should have made me thankful that we are all healthy, for the most part. I am but it took a while to get there. Everything should be in perspective but it isn't. 



 _________


Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
jgrant@prisonist.org

jg3074@columbia.edu
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
lspringer@prisonist.org
(m) +1203.536.5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org

Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
mkaraffa@prisonist.org

 _________

Comments from Social Media:

I know how you feel.  I too suffered from the embarrassment of no insurance after a lifetime of having insurance.  After I was released from prison,  I was not eligible for Medicare Insurance (due to an enrollment technicality) and had to wait almost one year before being covered.  Unfortunately I got sick and had to go to the emergency room for treatment.  There I met doctors who I knew previously and had to admit that I had no insurance.  At 72 years old, I had to go to a clinic and ask for a doctor to give me a prescription for my medicines.  I then had to locate a pharmacy that would fill my prescriptions for a fair cash price.  I felt awful as I signed a form that said I had no insurance and was being allowed a discounted price to help indigent people.  I use to be the person who contributed to charities to help people with problems and now I was the one with problems.  Life is hard enough in prison and then out of prison.  Why keep making it hard and embarrassing for people who have served their time and their families left behind.  We are fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters.  JUST LIKE YOU!!!.  Give us a break every once in a while.  The Mark of Cain seems to follow prisoners and their families.  You are not allowed to harm them but you can shun them and shun them society does. - Barry S. Diamond




Author of The Unvarnished Truth about the Prison Family Journey

An all too common "lament" of those impacted by the criminal justice system--not to mention many of us who serve as advocates in this field. It's a system that will drain the most emotionally and financially affluent of all resources.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A White-Collar Minister At A Pharisee’s House, by Jeff Grant: Luke 14:8-11

Progressive Prison Project 

Innocent Spouse & Children Project 

Greenwich, Connecticut


A White-Collar Minister At A

Pharisee’s House: Luke 14:8-11



By Jeff Grant




When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 14:8–10




_________________________



I tell this tale to almost all my ministees who are heading for prison. It’s based on a portion of the scripture passage often referred to in Bibles as, “Jesus At A Pharisee’s House.” Luke 14:8-11. I tell them:



Once you get to prison and settle in for few days, you’ll inevitably wonder over to the rec (recreation area).  There, you’ll see some guys playing a pick-up game of basketball. You won’t know anybody yet, so you’ll probably be standing around for a while with your hands in your pockets not knowing quite what to do.  After a little while, you’ll notice that there are some bleachers, the kind with two or three rows like you remember from elementary school or middle school.  You will nonchalantly walk over to the bleachers to sit down and watch the basketball game. 



Question: Where on the bleachers should you sit?  Answer: In the back row



If you sit in the front row of the bleachers, you will likely be sitting in somebody else’s seat, even if they are not there. Remembering this simple rule at all times, in all situations, might be the difference between keeping safe and getting killed in prison.



__________________



I am hurting.



If you are a close reader of prisonist.org, I suppose you wouldn’t really know it. Not with all the news and events we post, speaking engagements, sermons, and other positive stuff.



In many ways, it’s my job to project the sturdiness and resiliency needed to minister to, and advocate for, the sick and suffering outcasts accused or convicted of white-collar crimes, as well as their families. What choice do I really have?



But I also know it’s my job to tell the truth. To be open and vulnerable so as to give comfort and agency to these people at a time in their lives when they are deeply suffering. And right now, I’m hurt. So I’m telling the truth.



A few times in the past few months, I’ve left banquets to which I‘ve been invited with the grim reminder that the scarlet letter of having been convicted of a “white-collar” crime is really a tattoo – a tattoo that I wear, and that we all wear if we are poor, hungry, homeless, sick or suffering from incarceration issues.  

 

What can I do about it when I am my computer at 4 in the morning? Well, I know I can change my attitude. I know I can pray.


Precious God, if suffering is the touchstone of spiritual growth - I pray that I have learned and will grow from this moment of reflection, and that this suffering has not been in vain.



Put not your trust in princes, Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; In that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help. – Psalm 146:3-5



It’s time to stop relying so much on the approval of other people. It’s time for more trust and faith in God.



I have a few banquets coming up soon where I can put this to the test.
 _________


Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
jgrant@prisonist.org
jg3074@columbia.edu
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
lspringer@prisonist.org
(m) +1203.536.5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org

Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
mkaraffa@prisonist.org

__________
Comments from Social Media:


Founder/ Senior at Bullseye America LLC

As a minister it is very easy to carry pain. We preach, counsel and support people all the time to help strengthen their faith and family. We teach people to believe and have faith in God and at the moment of our lowness we need someone who will uplift us and help us through the pain we carry daily. I can tell you I have felt that way many times and I felt that I was Moses in the desert alone with no one to share my pain with at those moments I listen to music, I write, I counsel more so that I help more and lastly I pray more because I know that the devil is attacking me because my blessing and breakthrough is right around the corner.
God loves and I do too! Keep doing what you do! 

Jeff Grant, JD, M Div- 
Minister/Director, Progressive Prison Project, Greenwich, CT, The First White-Collar Ministries in the US prisonist.org

Eric, thank you for this beautiful reflection - just what I needed. A bishop is a pastor to pastors, that's what you've been for me this morning. Many blessings my friend. 


Barry S. Diamond - 
Life is like a rose bush
something beautiful but also thorny
When I said life is good, I did not mean that there are no moments of bad.  I just choose to concentrate on what is positive.  We who have been incarcerated never forget.  I agree that man has a problem forgiving but fortunately God does not.


So that your readers do not think your story is inaccurate, (about sitting in the wrong seat can be dangerous), I would like to tell you my encounter with this problem:
My first day in jail, I was in a cell with a young man who gladly let me bunk on the lower bed because of my age.  We became friendly because he was a history buff and interested in hearing about Brooklyn , NY in the “ old days”.  The first day I went down to breakfast and began to sit in an empty seat at his table.  Before I knew what happened, I was being yelled at by someone who said it was his seat and if I valued my life I better never sit there.  The only thing that saved me (which I did not know) was the fact that my cellmate was an important person in the cell block.  He verified that I was his new cellmate and did not know better.  I was “allowed” to sit at the next table over and was treated with respect by everyone who was at my new table.

Maybe it’s time someone wrote a short explanation of proper conduct for a newbie so that a first time person can more easily survive their incarceration.  I would be more than happy to post it  on our web-site reentrysurvivors.com.

- Barry
 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

TEDx SingSing: December 3, 2014

Progressive Prison Project 
Innocent Spouse & Children Project 
Greenwich, Connecticut


TEDx Sing Sing: December 3, 2014


ted

Sometimes an event comes along that is so important and groundbreaking for our community that we are jumping out of our skin - this is one of them.  Sean Pica and the Hudson Link education people at Sing Sing have organized this incredible day - Jonathan Demme is filming it! This is a must! Link to Tedx SingSing Event Page. - Jeff

TEDxSingSing will focus on "Creating Healthy Communities"
December 3, 2014


On December 3, 2014, Sing Sing Correctional Facility will host TEDxSingSing, an independently organized TED event. TEDxSingSing will be the first TEDx event to take place in a New York State prison.


The theme for the event will be "Creating Healthy Communities." Speakers will explore this concept from a variety of perspectives, including individual, physical, mental, and emotional health, and how to work together to build a nourishing and supportive community, no matter where you might be; even in a maximum security prison like Sing Sing.

A variety of exciting speakers will contribute, including Gina Belafonte, Majora Carter, Bryonn Bain, Dan Slepian, and Sing Sing Superintendent Michael Capra. Several of the men incarcerated at Sing Sing will also speak, read original poetry, and perform musical numbers. The event will be filmed by acclaimed producer and director, Jonathan Demme, with assistance from the Jacob Burns' Film Center.

TED is a global community devoted to the power of ideas to help change attitudes, lives, and ultimately, the world. The concept has become so popular in recent years that TED launched TEDx, a program that helps organizations independently organize their own events based on the TED model: A gathering of individuals to share ideas with one another in the form of a sequence of carefully curated talks on a variety of topics. Independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

The event is being organized by Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, a nonprofit organization which provides college education, life skills and re-entry support to incarcerated men and women. The incarcerated men participating in TEDx are helping to create healthy communities through their involvement with Hudson Link's college program, Rehabilitation thru the Arts, and the Carnegie Hall Music Program.

For more information, please contact:
Emily Gallagher
egallagher@hudsonlink.org
(914) 914-941-0794
Twitter: @TEDxSingSing
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TEDxSingSing


Tedx SingSing Event Page: https://www.ted.com/tedx/events/10820


About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)


About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.


The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast event in nearby Whistler. The annual TEDGlobal conference will be held this October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. TED's media initiatives include TED.com, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.


Follow TED on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TEDTalks, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TED.
###
Hudson Link
for Higher Education in Prison
914.941.0794
www.hudsonlink.org
Believing in the Transformative
Power of Education

_________  
 

Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director

jgrant@prisonist.org
jg3074@columbia.edu
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
lspringer@prisonist.org
(m) +1203.536.5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org

Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
mkaraffa@prisonist.org

 ____________

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ReentrySurvivors.com: Dwight Dickerson, M.A.

Progressive Prison Project 
Innocent Spouse & Children Project 
Greenwich, Connecticut


ReentrySurvivors.com:
Dwight Dickerson, M.A.

Authenticity: Being truthful to oneself 
and others is the key to maneuvering 
through the reentry process

Dwight Dickerson, MA, Community Psychologist
President/CEO Tri-Cord LLC New Haven, CT

As there are as many days in the week, months in a year there are as many roads that lead to success each having their own bumps in the road, hills to climb and hurdles to overcome and for those of us like me, traveling upon these roads with the weight of a criminal record on our back, the journey to success become even more difficult to achieve. As I share my story, my hope is that I encourage and empower all who read it to embrace the challenge and do the work that needs to be done and refuse to allow anyone to underestimate you, undervalue you, marginalize you, and finally, dictate who and what you can become!

My journey to success did not begin after my release from jail but began when I was sitting in the holding cell waiting to be taken to prison in 1994. It was at that time I decided to make sure that I would do whatever I needed to do to assure that what behaviors and thought patterns that caused me to be sitting in that holding cell would never happen again and I also vowed that I would do whatever in my power to help empower others with the tools to be successful. So, while I was incarcerated I made a deliberate decision to participate in and finish all programs that addressed the areas in my life that needed to be addressed.

Upon my release in 1996 I began to implement a five step program that has yielded tremendous success for me and my family which I still live by today.

First, I chose to be authentic with myself foremost and everyone else that I allowed in my circle. By being honest with myself I realized that there were known and unknown unresolved issues, behaviors, thought patterns, emotions that I have been plagued with from childhood through adulthood that needed to be addressed. So for the next 8yrs I sought a qualified counselor that would help make me whole. Still, today, I have someone that I can turn to when times are warranted. I learned never be afraid to be truthful to yourself and others and never be afraid to seek out the help that you need. Authenticity is the essential key to maneuvering through the reentry process.

Secondly, I chose to be committed to do the work that needed to be done both on the inside and the outside. I made no excuses. While working on my issues with my counselor I was fully committed in doing whatever I had to do to show my love, respect, gratitude, appreciation for my family. Whatever was required of me by parole and probation, I was committed to do. I was committed to making sure that I walk the walk for sustainable change.

Thirdly, realizing that no man is an island and that success is a team effort. I developed a well established support network of people that would not be afraid to hold me accountable for my thoughts and actions, a network that is still in existence today. In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a community to help ex-offenders to transition back into the community and live successful lives.

Fourthly, I had a burning desire to better myself economically and educationally which led me in 1997 to find an entry level job as a machinist at a company in Madison, CT. which was the catalyst to me being hired in 2003 at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT were I am presently employed. While at Sikorsky I have had the opportunity to participate in their Employee Scholar Program that paid for my education allowing me to obtain my BA in sociology from Yale University in 2010 and my MA in Community Psychology in May of this year. It was in 2010 that my wife, daughter and I birthed Tri-Cord LLC an Empowerment Training Group, New Haven, CT dedicated to empowering the formerly incarcerated, their families and the community with the tools to be successful by offering evidence base life-skill workshops.

Finally, I took charge of my own destiny by refusing to allow society’s narrow mindedness to dictate what I can do and what I can become. For I am not defined by one event in my life for I am complicated for I am more than the sum total of my shortcomings.

For I am a:
  1. Husband
  2. Father
  3. Brother
  4. Friend
  5. Uncle
  6. Nephew
  7. Mentor
  8. Musician (Pianist, Trumpeter)
  9. Scholar
  10. Christian
  11. Employee
  12. Homeowner
  13. Yale College Alumni Volunteer
  14. Role Model
  15. Leader
  16. Community Psychologist
  17. Composer
  18. Writer
  19. Church Member
  20. Pastoral Care Minister
  21. Prison Volunteer (VIP)
  22. Community Activist /
  23. Ex-offender

REENTRY SURVIVORS: Tell your success story. Your successful reentry from incarceration to being a contributing member of society can inspire others, change public attitudes, create more employment opportunities, provise encouragement and hope. Many in the process have also been granted pardons, putting their past records behind them. 

IF YOU HAVE A SUCCESS STORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE GO TO: reentrysurvivors.com, OR CONTACT US BY E-MAIL: reentrysurvivors@gmail.com.

 ____________
 
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director

jgrant@prisonist.org
jg3074@columbia.edu
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
lspringer@prisonist.org
(m) +1203.536.5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org


Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
mkaraffa@prisonist.org

 ____________

Comments from Social Media:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ReentrySurvivors.com: Willie Hayes

Progressive Prison Project

Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Greenwich, Connecticut



ReentrySurvivors.com: 
Willie Hayes


"Seek to do what most aren't willing to do now, 
so that you will be able to do what most can't do later" 
- Willie Hayes

My name is Willie Hayes and I'm so pleased to take this opportunity to express the reality of change that can occur when the 
resources that are available are used. After being released from prison, I was able to become a mentor for juveniles at the 
Community Partners In Action facility. Then I received some information about New England Tractor Trailer Training School in 
Bridgeport. I enrolled and received my CDL class A licenses, 4 months after enrolling. While in school I discovered that ATR will 
help me with my out of pocket fees of $700.00. I made contact with them and after enrollng with ATR I received monthly bus 
passes to commute to school as well as a check that was sent to the admissions office at NETTTS totaling $700.00 to cover my 
entire out of pocket fees for enrollment.


As I arrived closer to my completion date at Nettts, I became heavy with the reality of not having any income and that's when The 
Step Up program was brought to my attention. I acted IMMEDIATELY to the information I was given and had the pleasure of 
meeting with Ms. Carmen Neives, who was responsible for walking me through the process. After I fulfilled the task of providing 
Carmen with ALL that she needed to get me approved, I received a grant in my name worth $12,500.00 . That grant gave me 
success with the first company I applied and used it. Blase was the company and they gave me the chance to prove myself. I 
completed school by this time and was working a minimum wage job at Blase, but remained grateful for employment. 


Even after receiving my Class A CDL, I was overcome with fear from seeing so many other ex-felons get rejected that I put myself 
on hold till I had at lest 90 days in at Blase before I even tried to apply for a driving Job. I was blessed to have good people around me that were already where I wanted to be and because of that I was able to follow up on ajob lead with the company I am now working for full time. The company I work for now is everything I could hope for in a company (driving locally) but what I need people to know is this: My desire to do something different with my life opens the door for my opportunities. It's not 
who hired me or how much I make, it is about being a man with a vision for change. The job at Blase gave me an outstanding 
reference to my new employer and the school NETTTS was able to be vital to this company getting a reference of my 
accountability and integrity that I choose to be identified by and not my inmate number.


I truly discovered that when I put the right priority on Life and freedom, I'm better able to make positive decisions. Besides 
obtaining a successful career, I've gained major successes in my home, Marriage, Church, Community, and relationships with 
individuals that need to know. Hope doesn't expire just because you can't see the results IMMEDIATELY. I will end with this, "I 
seek to do what most aren't willing to do now, so that I will be able to do what most can't do later". So in other words I do my 
best now and stay away from those that choose to do NOTHING about their situation and circumstance. That will better my 
chances of being able to do some of the things I've been blessed to do. Like receive a vacation and get paid for it. I just 
experienced this for the first time in my life last week. There are those who chose to do nothing and have no one to pay for a 
vacation due to them being unemployable. If you lack skills or abilities seek the outlets that may be available to help you develop 
them. I encourage anyone that is in a re entry situation to EXHAUST EVERY OUTLET AVAILABLE TO YOU.


In closing, I went from being in the news paper police log to being in the news paper bi weekly as one of NETTTS testimonies 
and what determination, faith, and desire can reward you with. Follow your dreams and see how possible it is to FULFILL every one of them. God Bless.


REENTRY SURVIVORS: Tell your success story. Your successful reentry from incarceration to being a contributing member of society can inspire others, change public attitudes, create more employment opportunities, provise encouragement and hope. Many in the process have also been granted pardons, putting their past records behind them. 

IF YOU HAVE A SUCCESS STORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE GO TO: reentrysurvivors.com, OR CONTACT US BY E-MAIL: reentrysurvivors@gmail.com 

 ____________
 
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director

jgrant@prisonist.org
jg3074@columbia.edu
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
lspringer@prisonist.org
(m) +1203.536.5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org


Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
mkaraffa@prisonist.org

 ____________



Comments from Social Media:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kenneth Ireland, Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder, Appointed To Connecticut Parole Board By Malloy

Progressive Prison Project 

Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Greenwich, Connecticut



Kenneth Ireland, Wrongfully Convicted 
Of Murder, Appointed To Connecticut Parole Board By Malloy

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy Appoints
 Kenneth Ireland To Connecticut
 Board of Pardons And Paroles,
 Ireland Was Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder
 and Served Two Decades In Connecticut Prisons.

_____________________

Congratulations to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, Kenneth Ireland and the People of the State of Connecticut for this brave and enlightened appointment. One large step for humanity. - Jeff



HARTFORD — In a symbolic gesture to a wrongly convicted man who served two decades in Connecticut prisons before he was exonerated, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday announced the appointment of Kenneth Ireland to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Ireland, 44, was convicted in 1989 for the murder and rape of 30-year-old Barbara Pelkey. He spent nearly half his life serving part of a 50-year prison sentence before DNA evidence proved he was innocent and led a judge to order his immediate release in 2009.
For years, Ireland's fate was in the hands of the state — and now, in his new role on the board, his responsibilities will include deciding the future of others who claim innocence and appeal for clemency.

"Ken Ireland is a man of extraordinary character, who endured the unimaginable pain of nearly 20 years of wrongful incarceration and yet is not only without bitterness, but is incredibly thoughtful, insightful and committed to public safety and public service," said Malloy, who announced four other appointments to the Board of Pardons and Paroles Wednesday. The others have backgrounds in nonprofit management, law, and parole or probation; Ireland is the only one of the five to have served prison time in Connecticut.

"By long experience, Ken Ireland is intimately familiar with the criminal justice system and knows better than most that there are individuals who deserve to be in prison and there are individuals whom society should give another chance, and I believe that he will take very, very seriously the responsibility of making those judgments," the governor said.
Lawyers with the Connecticut Innocence Project worked to overturn Ireland's wrongful conviction – a process that involved the use of technologies not available in the 1980s. Ireland has sued the state for damages, seeking up to $8 million in compensation for wrongful imprisonment. Including pre-trial time, he served 21 years. Ireland currently works as a bookkeper for the Capitol Region Education Council.

"I'm honored by the trust placed in me by Governor Malloy," he said in a statement released Wednesday through his attorney, William Bloss. "Perhaps more than most, I understand the importance of fairness in the criminal justice system and the importance of public safety. I look forward to serving the people of the state of Connecticut in any way possible."

Bloss praised Malloy's decision to select Ireland.


"This is a brilliant, inspired nomination that shows innovative thinking," he said. "This is an appointment that the citizens should be proud of."

Also on Wednesday, Malloy announced the nomination of four residents to serve as Superior Court judges. One of them was Kevin Doyle, a senior assistant state's attorney in New Haven whose office prosecuted Kevin Benefield in the Pelkey slaying after the DNA evidence that cleared Ireland linked the former deli worker to the crime. Benefield was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

The state currently has 14 Superior Court vacancies, with more anticipated before the end of the year.

"These nominees will bring to the bench and to the board the skills, the temperament, and a diversity of experiences and backgrounds that will allow them to serve our state with distinction, fairness, integrity, and respect for the people of Connecticut," Malloy said.

The other Superior Court nominations are:

Alex V. Hernandez, a criminal defense attorney at Pullman & Comley and former federal prosecutor.

Sheila M. Prats, a self-employed attorney and former public defender. Prats served as a Superior Court judge from 2000 to 2003 before stepping down to address family matters.

Omar A. Williams, an assistant public defender.

The other Board of Pardons and Paroles appointments are:

Joy Chance, who has over 16 years experience evaluating parolees for appropriate placement in parole-supervised programs.

Rufaro Berry, a paralegal.

Patricia Thomas Camp, who chairs the board at Zezzo House, a Hartford-based nonprofit that provides affordable housing to low-income families affected by HIV.

Terry M. Borjeson, the Newington town council majority leader. Borjeson previously held a management position with Community Solutions Inc., a group that works on behalf of people involved in the child welfare, juvenile justice and criminal justice systems.

Reprinted from the Hartford Courant. Courant staff writer Alaine Griffin contributed to this story.

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Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director

jgrant@prisonist.org
jg3074@columbia.edu
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
lspringer@prisonist.org
(m) +1203.536.5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org

Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
mkaraffa@prisonist.org

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I don't know the facts of this case but I absolutely think it is a great topic. I have had a fair amount of interaction with different elements of the prison system in my career and am amazed that the Governor would have the courage to do this. I don't know of other situations where people who actually know anything about prisons and prisoners have been appointed. In my experience, it is usually a return of a favor. 

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Psalm 85.2: A Commentary by Brian Jorgenson in Conversation with John Calvin

Progressive Prison Project 
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Greenwich, Connecticut


Psalm 85.2: A Commentary By Brian Jorgenson
In Conversation With John Calvin



Our ministee Brian Jorgenson reported last month to the camp at FCI Herlong, California to serve a two-year sentence for a white-collar crime.  The night before, Brian shared with us his final thoughts in his post, Last Blog Before Prison.  We asked Brian to write a follow up blog for us based upon Psalm 85.2. Below is his commentary in conversation with John Calvin. 

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You forgave the iniquity of your people;  
you covered all their sin. Selah - Psalm 85.2



John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms (1557):

It was very natural for the faithful to feel alarmed and perplexed on account of their sins, and therefore the prophet removes all ground for overwhelming apprehension, by showing them, that God, in delivering his people, had given an irrefragable proof of free forgiveness. He had before traced this deliverance to the mere good pleasure and free grace of God as its source; but after it was wrought, the iniquities of the people having separated between them and their God, and estranged them from him, it was necessary that the remedy of pardon should be brought to their aid.

In saying that their iniquities were taken away, he does not refer to the faithful being reformed and purged from their sins, in other words, to that work by which God, sanctifying them by the Spirit of regeneration, actually removes sin from them. What he intended to say he explains immediately after. The amount, in short, is, that God was reconciled to the Jews by not imputing their sins to them.

When God is said to cover sins, the meaning is, that he buries them, so that they come not into judgment, as we have shown more at large on the 32d psalm, at the beginning. When, therefore, he had punished the sins of his people by captivity, it being his will to restore them again to their own country, he removed the great impediment to this, by blotting out their transgressions; for deliverance from punishment depends upon the remission of sin. Thus we are furnished with an argument in confutation of that foolish conceit of the Sophists, which they set forth as some great mystery, That God retains the punishment although he forgive the fault; whereas God announces in every part of his word, that his object in pardoning is, that being pacified, he may at the same time mitigate the punishment.

The sequence of the pardon of sin is, that God by his blessing testifies that he is no longer displeased.



Brian Jorgenson's Commentary From FCI Herlong (2014):

This verse has two separate thoughts but one common thread -- it all begins with God. We didn't earn forgiveness nor did We have any power in ourselves to have our sins covered. This is all God's doing, it all starts with Him and it is His gift of salvation to us. This verse's theme is consistent with the remainder of the Bible -- the overwhelming focus that we see in the Bible is not about the work of the redeemed, but rather it's all about the work of the Redeemer.

There is power, comfort and ultimate hope in this central theme. God's forgiveness does not hinge on mine or your performance (Romans Chapter 3 gets to the heart of this, especially verses 10 and 23). So if our salvation is less about us and more about what God has done for us, what does this mean? This means that when Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished", He didn't say that "it will be finished" or "phase 1 is complete". No. He declared that sin's power and the resulting eternal damnation that we deserve has been defeated, and He added the exclamation point to that statement when He rose from the grave.

All of our past sins, current sins, and future sins have already been pardoned. So, what should our response be? Let's turn again to the apostle Paul in Romans 6: "What shall we say then? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abount? Of course not! How can we who died to sin yet live in it?" So, yes, we do play a part in this but the main actor on this stage is most certainly not us, it's God and the grace He has given us.

In Brennan Manning's book "The Ragamuffin Gospel", he succinctly puts it this way: "The gospel of grace announces: forgiveness precedes repentance. The sinner is accepted before he pleads for mercy. It is already granted (remember, it is finished). The sinner need only receive it." Yes, our responsibility is to accept and receive this gift of salvation by believing in God and entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior. BUT our performance-driven society is hyperfocused on our spiritual growth and maturity (which are important). Placing too much emphasis on our doing could very well put us in the driver's seat of our Christian faith and focuses on what we're doing and less about what He's already done for us. When we're in the driver's seat, this puts Jesus in the back seat (if He's even in the car at all!). Once again, if we read this Scripture again, it brings it all back to God. YOU forgave the iniquity of your people; YOU covered all their sins."

I write these words as a prisoner currently incarcerated serving a 24-month sentence for committing insider trading. I may not have my freedom in society but I have the freedom to love God and bask in His glory and mercy regardless of my current circumstances. A Scripture that I meditate on daily is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweights them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

This verse gives me hope. I trust in the Lord. I don't trust in myself because I have a sinful nature and I'm bound to mess up time and time again. But I trust that God knows what He's doing in my life. After all, the word "oops" is not in His vocabulary. While I may be in the middle of a difficult time, I know that the best is yet to come. I don't think it's a coincidence that Jesus' first parable was turning water into wine. He didn't do this at the beginning of the wedding feast, rather He did it at the end. Like that parable, God always saves the best for last and that is where my hope is found.

It would be very easy for me to attempt to redeem myself in here or feel the need to try to earn back my grace from God, but I realize that there is nothing to earn back. I have not lost anything despite my foolish stumble that got me here. It is finished. Rather than spin my wheels focusing on earning my salvation through my merits, I am freed up to focus on loving and serving Him and others. This is the response I feel compelled to give -- as an act of gratitude. To close, I want to relay a quote from the famed preacher Charles Spurgeon: "When I thought that God was hard, I found it easy to sin. But when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could have rebelled against the One who loved me so." Thank you God for forgiving my sins!



 ____________
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
jgrant@prisonist.org
jg3074@columbia.edu
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
lspringer@prisonist.org
(m) +1203.536.5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org

Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
mkaraffa@prisonist.org

Please feel free to contact us if we can be of service to you, a friend or family member - we will promptly send you an information package by mail, email via Dropbox.


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What was the white collar offense committed by Mr. Jorgenson? - CHARLES OLSON, Independent Law Enforcement Professional



Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Springs Global US, Inc.

>   I admit I coined the term, "ministee." I figured if a   sponsor can have a sponsee, why can't a minister have a ministee? - Jeff