Progressive Prison Ministries: The First Ministry in the United States Created to Provide Support for Individuals, Families and Organizations with White-Collar and Other Nonviolent Incarceration Issues. Greenwich CT & Nationwide

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Catch-22's of White-Collar Ministry, By Jeff Grant

Progressive Prison Project

Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Greenwich, Connecticut



The Catch-22’s of White-Collar Ministry 

By Jeff Grant  



Catch-22 was one of my favorite novels and movies.  The term, Catch-22, describes a situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules. Joseph Heller coined the term in his 1961 novel, Catch-22, which describes absurd bureaucratic constraints on soldiers in World War II.



Such is the case in founding a white-collar ministry.  This is the first ministry of its kind. As is the case with most things new and cutting edge, it is riddled with Catch 22’s.  Things seem to go better when I get into acceptance that some issues might never be resolvable, and I surrender to living gracefully in the gray areas.  






On Being a White-Collar Criminal and Founding a White-Collar Ministry



A few months ago, I tweeted a list of famous white-collar crime advocates that included our great friend Piper Kerman, author of the book Orange Is The New Black.  Within moments, Piper tweeted a reply.  Quickly correcting me, she pointed out that she, “went to prison for a non-violent drug crime, not for a white-collar crime.”



This is one of the reasons I love Piper.  She absolutely understands her work, advocacy and social location.  And one of the reasons it has been so difficult in founding a white-collar ministry.  What Piper knew, and what I had yet to learn, was that the world more readily accepts Smith College educated drug mules than it does Ivy League (or Union Seminary) educated white-collar criminals. It is a sign of our times that, in my ministerial experience, the world accepts murderers and violent criminals before it accepts white-collar criminals, no matter if they have paid their debt to society.  And to make matters worse, it shuns and casts out white-collar spouses and families.  A Catch-22

On Being a Member of Alcoholics Anonymous and Founding a White-Collar Ministry



I am an Alcoholic. With God’s grace I will be clean and sober for twelve years on August 10th.  I have a sponsor, who I speak with a few times a week and with whom I meet on a regular basis.  AA Traditions 11 and 12 state: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films,” and, “anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”



But, I am also a Minister and a professional.  At first glance, these AA traditions might be a Catch-22 for me as Alcoholic who spends much of my life in a calling speaking about my personal transformation story.  However, I believe that I am truly working within the spirit of AA and the Traditions in that I have dedicated my life to be of maximum service to others.



On Being Released From Shame and Founding a White-collar Ministry



I have been able to, slowly, climb out of the insidious pit of shame through talking about my crimes, punishment and recovery.  Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Shame (www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame) and Ash Beckham’s Ted Talk on Coming Out of The Closet (https://www.ted.com/talks/ash_beckham_we_re_all_hiding_something_let_s_find_the_courage_to_open_up) were game changers for me.  By being true to my calling, and letting go of my shame, I have learned that we can serve as examples to white-collar families that they can hope for a faithful and purposeful life on the other side of prison.  



I talk about my wife Lynn and stepdaughter Skylar in my blog and articles, and they often join me at speaking and preaching engagements.  They join me in the freedom that comes from sharing our experience, strength and hope with others in the wish that they may too be freed from the bonds of shame and guilt.  I have offered to engage other family members in this process but they are more private, and have requested I not speak about them.  I understand and apologize if my work hurts anyone I love.  My faith leads me to believe that over time we will work through this Catch-22.

_______________



As is the case with most spiritual reflection, I seem to be left with more questions than answers.  Even though this ministry has its share of Catch 22’s, I am energized and invigorated by the work.  It gives me a reason to get up every day. 
See comments below.

______________


Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project


at Christ Church Greenwich
254 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Conecticut 06830

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883

Central Ministry & Office:
Weston, Connecticut

Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
(o) +1203.769.1096
(m) +1203.339.5887

jgrant@prisonist.org
jg3074@columbia.edu

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

George Bresnan, Advocate
gbresnan@prisonist.org 


______________


From our Friend Dick Sederquest:

Hi Jeff,
There is also a Catch 22 between self promotion (peddling your books, web site and volunteer efforts) and moderation (humility). It was the subject of one of my recent blogs.
Dick



Trying Too Hard – Another Lesson in Surviving Depression



I often find myself trying too hard. I know I'm happier when I stop obsessing on how to make things better. Like they say, "Better is the enemy of good." Preoccupation with a task is like putting on ear protectors, unfortunately muffling what the other person is saying.



Trying too hard can make one unhappy. This contradicts my prison ministry blog “The Directed Life” which suggests that persistence in one’s endeavors, also defined as “sticktoitiveness”, can lead to success. The problem is when that persistence leads to inattentiveness, when our focus on succeeding overwhelms our ability to listen and communicate with others. We become so preoccupied with our thoughts, we tune out. This is not good when your wife is trying to tell you something. When that happens, it’s time for a change.



Self-promotion makes me uncomfortable. My father, because of his bipolar illness and constant need for recognition, talked about himself and his accomplishments to the point of driving everybody around him slightly crazy, me included. Promoting my web site, memoirs and volunteer secular prison ministry program requires self-promotion. There lies the conflict between striving and moderation. Trying too hard creates stress, something I should avoid. During the worst of my depression, I worried constantly why I felt the way I did, even coining a self-deprecating expression for my behavior, “Obsessive Compulsive Introspection or OCI”.



I had recently fallen again into the trap of taking myself too seriously, becoming lost in the task of trying to do better. My preoccupation was dominating my thoughts. Unable to compartmentalize and segregate my activities, I had flooded the playing field rather than just watering the grass. I don’t want to give up helping people with my writing and prison ministry, but too much focus on improvement is addictive. “Help”, I’m saying to myself. “This guy is driving himself crazy.”



With all my experience with depression, I should be smarter than that. With all my good advice to others, why is this motivational speaker forgetting the message? I had to bounce this off my peers to get their perspective. Peers to the rescue! Last weekend, twenty men from my Universalist church played hooky from our normal weekend obligations of family, household chores and even church. We drove to an idyllic site in western Connecticut for our annual men’s retreat. We carried with us the weight and concerns of our normal lives. On arrival, we warmly welcomed each other. We initially forgot about our cares in an atmosphere of sharing, honesty and camaraderie. When we left the retreat, we were changed, our minds in a different place than when we made our journey to the retreat.



At the retreat, I did a lot of bouncing. I talked honestly to a number of people, some close friends and some just acquaintances. The theme of the retreat was balancing work (in my case promoting and volunteering), family and self. I already knew that I didn’t have to give up on my volunteer and promotional activities, but I had to make a cleaner mental break between those activities and my life. I had to compartmentalize my volunteer and family activities and thoughts, especially stop being annoyed when my wife interrupts my train of thought.



I’m putting this piece down and forget it for the rest of the day. When my wife comes back from shopping, I’m going to give her a big kiss and ask her how her day is going. After lunch, I’m going to swim 30 laps in my athletic club pool. Tomorrow is my volunteer prison program, not today. Putting things into perspective, my problems are miniscule compared to what the guys in my class are dealing with. Oh yes! I’m also going to listen to my wife very attentively next time she interrupts my train of thought. I’ve thought about buying her an air horn to get my attention, but that is a little over the top.



Just writing this down, and laughing at myself, 
has helped a lot.

Dick Sederquist is a cancer and depression survivor and the author of two memoirs “Hiking Out” and “Inside and Outside”. Dick conducts a volunteer motivational program called “Life Change Discussion Group" for inmates in two Connecticut medium security prisons. You can learn more about Dick and his secular prison ministry at www.dicksederquist.com

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Comments from Other Social Media:

  • Barbara Fair Boo hoo. My heart bleeds for white collar criminals who generally leave prison and transition into their own TV and radio shows and six figure careers while non violent drug offenders end up homeless, jobless and unable to go to Ivy league schools and all this in many cases after serving decades in prison for selling drugs to adults who should have the right to choose what drug they want to put in their bodies . The best part is that now the government is seeking ways to cut in on the profit. White collar criminals usually committed crimes against hundreds, thousands and maybe even millions for their own benefit....· 21 hours ago · 
    • Progressive Prison Project, Greenwich, CT. prisonist.org That's an interesting perspective Barbara. Perhaps you can share your research so we can have a complete discussion? We can invite Piper Kerman, a nonviolent drug offender, into the conversation as well.

      Of the the hundreds of white collar offenders to whom we have ministered, not a single one has a radio or TV show. What we need is Solidarity, not infighting. We are all God's children and doing the best we can.
  • Barbara Fair I think your perspective is as interesting as mine. There are many, many sources clearly showing the more negative outcome of non violent drug offenders such as loss of parental rights, inability to access public housing, higher education, and public assistance. You can begin with Sentencing Project. org. Research the kinds of draconian sentences non violent drug offenders receive and the collateral consequences they face upon release ; consequences white collar criminals do not face.I have to assume you never counselled people like Martha Stewart who has a TV show following her incarceration and former Ct governor John Rowland who hosts a radio show following his incarceration. If we are ALL God's children maybe we can come together and stop insinuating drug offenders and violent offenders are any "less than" than white collar criminals. We need to work together toward a more just, humane and compassionate criminal justice system for ALL....20 hours ago
    • Progressive Prison Project, Greenwich, CT. prisonist.org We absolutely agree. That's why our ministry is dedicated to people accused or convicted of inner city, white-collar and nonviolent crimes and their families. Check out our blogsite at prisonist.org for more info. So good to be in community with you Barbara. We are great admirers of your advocacy. Blessings, Jeff

Jeff, I suppose at least some of the variance in societal reaction to the general/violent versus white collar criminal is because the white collar criminal has committed a violation of trust. Someone we trusted has deceived us, raising questions about the reliability of our own discernment. Since we cannot trust that our judgment of your trustworthiness is valid we cannot easily put our trust in you again. That a number of high profile, white collar criminals have professed repentance only to return to their deceitfulness, or continue to publicly rationalize their criminal behavior, even after pleading guilty, does not help your situation.
By Craig Brueckman, CFE



I want to thank all those who have prayed, volunteered, given their resources, or done something that gave the prisoner, in the jail system, access to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as being their Savior and Lord. There are many true followers of Christ, serving time or life for something they did or didn't do and wether they did or didn't, let us pray that they'll continue to allow the Holy Spirit to keep them strong so that they can be a ministering voice and the hands and feet of God, for the sake of their personal walk and for the sake of others knowing that they have the free choice of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, no matter what man may condemn them for or what might happen in the future.
By Crystal Rollison




Friday, June 13, 2014

Inner Surrender,Inner Suffering, by Lee Gutierrez, Guest Blogger

Progressive Prison Project

Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Greenwich, Connecticut 

Inner Surrender,Inner Suffering
by Lee Gutierrez, Guest Blogger


Lee Gutierrez is serving eight years hard time

 in the NYS prison system for a single DWI

 - an accident in which someone got hurt badly. 

We had one week with him before he reported 

to impart some spiritual principals of survival & 

success in prison.  Lee's first three letters ,  


have been among our most viewed blog posts.

 

April 28, 2014. For the past 7 months I have experienced incarceration at a "Max B" facility. TRYING my best to stay under the radar.  I am keeping busy in as many activities as I can, as per the suggestions of my good friends Jeff & Lynn Grant. Jeff has traveled this journey before and he & Lynn dedicate their lives to help others cope. 

Using their inspiration, I have been fortunate to be accepted  in the Inmate Program Assistant (IPA) Course.  It's a 2 week course that trains you as a Facilitator and Teacher's Assistant. Part of the training is to be able to sense the emotions and mindset of the inmate.  A responsibility I have accepted is to help a fellow inmate if they seem helpless and depressed.  My biggest challenge is adapting the skill of seeing the warning signs. 

Other activities I've joined are the Alcoholics Anonymous program and Catholic services.  Both are a blessing to keep me sane.  God is the light, I thank him each day for opening my mind and spirit to see the right path. 

I have acknowledged my faults and have accepted the word of God, now I don't have to struggle alone. This ha given me the strength to let go of my control and place it in the hands of my Higher Power. 

A couple of things happened recently, unexpected events, giving me pause for thought.  These are sad acts that seem to happen more and more as I expand my circle of acquaintances. Here are two stories I will share with you.  Stories of suffering, where a person can appear positive and upbeat on their exterior.  But suffer miserably internally.

_____________________

I am a member of the AA Fellowship, have been since October of last year.  In January a Gentleman named Julio joined us.  He was the quiet sort only giving his name and declaring he was an alcoholic, like us.  In the beginning he was not comfortable sharing of himself.  In jail it is very common to be tight lipped about one's self.  Some predators will use it against you. 

Julio is 25 years old, living in Washington Heights, north of Manhattan.  He was no stranger to the streets.  As the weeks went on Julio slowly let down his guard.  He would share in the rooms as well as reach out to us in the yard.  He started telling us about his experiences through "war stories."  He described himself a "socialite," living the night life in Manhattan is where he "belonged."  Networking with people from the music and fashion industry.  He was planning to work a promotion agency when he was released.  He wasn't really romancing the party atmosphere as much as he felt connected to that style of living.  He was a tall young man with a square jaw and soft welcoming eyes. It was easy to like him as a person.  He had his game plan and was looking forward to implement it.  His outside appearance seemed solid. 

In the early morning hours of Monday the 5th of this month, the night C.O. was doing his rounds catching Julio trying to hurt himself. He somehow had been able to cut himself.  He was immediately restrained and rushed to the local emergency room. After the initial shock of hearing the news, a dark sensation of sadness and hopelessness came over me.  "How could I have become so close to someone, share his experience, strength and hope, and NOT see his inner suffering?"

_____________________

 Mt. Weaver is a young man on Cellblock C-2, he also was welcomed to our little band of brothers at the Catholic services.  He was in his late 20's with a full scruffy beard, ginger colored.  He was a soft spoken man witha perpetual grin.  He was a very good listener but didn't have much to say.  Mr. Weaver was a young father of two little ones, a boy and a girl.  Every Bible study he would flash photos of his family, such a proud Papa. 

At mass back in late March, he stood up and asked the community to pray for his momma. She is battling cancer, she was taking chemotherapy that was draining her energy.   He was fearing the worst.  About two weeks ago his mother came for a visit.  I was told by people in his block he was noticeably nervous and distracted.  As he was being escorted to the visiting area, you must follow the instructions of the escorting C.O.  This particular gentleman had a chip on his shoulder and was giving him a hard time because he wasn't paying attention to the simple commands.  Weaver told him about the visit and his concern for his mother. The C.O. had a despicable reaction, making horrific, cold and ungodly comments about his ailing parent. 

Weaver handled it like a champ and vented to us about the situation instead of reacting to the officer.  About three days later he was complaining of chest pains but was afraid to ask for the nurse.  That night he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital.  Again, I feel I should have sensed the seriousness and made him call primary call asap.  I grieve for both men, feeling frustrated and helpless.

_____________________

When inmates are rushed to the hospital for such serious reasons, they rarely return to the same facility.  I may never know their outcome, whether good or bad. 
The internal suffering when incarcerated is real.  It breaks the spirit and takes lives.  I acknowledge that I lack the experience, the intuition of seeing the signs of suffering.   That simple fact doesn't take away the pain or make me feel any better. 

Please say a prayer for Julio & Weaver.  May they find serenity soon.

_____________________

Comments by email:

Unfortunately, there are some CO’s who like to push people’s buttons, a great difficulty for inmates, particularly those with anger management issues. This treatment is cruel and inhumane and should not be tolerated. It does a great disservice toward the prison staff who are trying to a good job and the goal of inmate rehabilitation and future successful reentry. Even a few instances creates a wide and disproportionate resentment throughout the prison population, affecting even those who try to maintain a positive attitude. - Dick Sederquist, Author

_____________________

 

Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project


at Christ Church Greenwich
254 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Conecticut 06830

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883

Central Ministry & Office:
Weston, Connecticut

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

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

George Bresnan, Advocate
gbresnan@prisonist.org 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Forbes: A New Class Of White-Collar Victims: The Family, by Walt Pavlo

Progressive Prison Project

Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Greenwich, Connecticut 

A New Class Of White-Collar Victims: The Family, by Walt Pavlo


Walter Pavlo

Reverend Jeff Grant wrote a powerful post on his blog, Prisonist.org, announcing that the Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project  in Greenwich, CT, for the first time in United States history, obtained a recovery from a U.S. Receiver for an innocent spouse after her personal assets had been frozen by federal authorities.  The seizure of assets was the result of her husband being a defendant in a financial crime case.

In a recent blog post, Grant spoke of the plight of innocent spouses and children of white-collar criminals:

“There are innocent mothers and children suffering in silence in this country.  In hiding places you are least likely to suspect.  Their family names have been blazoned across headlines.  Their children have been taunted, ridiculed and bullied at school.  Their friends have abandoned them.  They are whispered about, pointed at and disdained.  They have been shunned in their churches, synagogues, and civic organizations.  They cannot afford to feed themselves without food stamps, or to heat their homes without state aid.  They sit with the blinds and curtains drawn – waiting for the day their homes will be sold out from under them.”
The first time I met Grant was last fall in Grand Central Station in New York City, where we spent several hours talking about the state of criminal justice in America, and the plight of white-collar families in particular.  In November, I wrote a column for Forbes.com about his ministries, “Starting a Discussion on White Collar Crime & Recovery.”  At the time, Grant started to give me some indication of how committed he, and the team he had put together, were to the life of one family – and how important their success could be for the innocent spouses and children of all men going to prison.

“We started to see a class of victims that had never been talked about before,” Grant told me in an interview, “spouses and children who are pulled into a legal quagmire because of the actions of someone else.”  Grant was referring to this case where Josephina (real name withheld) and her two young children (ages 8 and 10) were living in a million dollar-plus home in the northeast.  Josephina’s husband had been arrested for a large financial crime, put behind bars and is still awaiting sentencing.  He had been the breadwinner, decision maker and the actions that led him to prison were as much a mystery to the family as they were the victims of his financial scheme. Certainly not all spouses are like Josephina, but far too many of them are.

“When we met this woman she was hopeless; she and her children were penniless and on the verge of homelessness,” explains Lynn Springer, Grant’s wife and partner in the ministries.  Grant and Springer first met with this woman in June 2013, in the backyard of a common friend from the New Canaan Society, a men’s fellowship organization, the friend had approached Grant about this family’s terrible situation. Grant and Springer met with Josephina, who explained that the government had frozen all of her assets when it froze her husband’s.  When he was taken into custody she was shocked to find only $150 in her bank account.  When she met with Grant and Springer, she and her children were living on food stamps and state health insurance. Unable to tap any funds meant that she could not even leave her home to rent a smaller apartment.  She had become a squatter in her own home, which was falling into disrepair. When Grant and Springer ascertained that she was not complicit in her husband’s crimes, they agreed to become her ministers and try to find legal counsel and a team to recover her assets.

“I understand that prosecutors have a job and an obligation to prosecute,” Grant said, “but this family had no support system in place.”  While the two children were born in the United States, Josephina was from South America and had no support in the area.  Once the family’s money was frozen, their friends were gone.  Grant told me that she had no money for lawyers or accountants to pursue a remedy to her situation, even though she had assets that could be identified as being rightfully hers and not associated with her husband’s crime.  Josephina could not even afford to get a divorce from her imprisoned husband.  She was trapped.

Grant reached out to attorney George F. Hritz, Esq. (Kaplan Fox) who had 40+ years of large firm litigation experience – and a huge heart.  “This was a whole new area of law for a new class of victims; what Josephina needed for legal representation did not seem to exist,” Hritz explained.  “She needed a team of attorneys who would advocate for Josephina not as a defendant, but as a white-collar crime victim.” As Grant explained, “it was the perfect opportunity for ministers and attorneys to learn from one another, to show compassion, to become teammates, and to create a new field of ministry/advocacy.” With Hritz and Marion Bachrach, Esq. [a white-collar specialist at Thompson & Knight] on board, Grant and Hritz next had the arduous task of convincing a U.S. Receiver, assigned to Josephina’s husband’s large and complex financial crimes case, that Josephina was a crime victim who was at least entitled to the return of her personal assets that had been wrongfully frozen by the government.  The forensics to prove what assets were hers alone, and had not been tainted by her husband’s activities, took hundreds of hours of time prove and months of negotiations to explain.

In February, a federal judge approved an agreement that had been reached with the support of all parties including the U.S. Receiver, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the S.E.C.  There were no objections from any other of the husband’s victims.   Hritz said of the settlement, “… we were able to achieve this resolution on behalf of this mother and her children only after it became absolutely clear they they would be receiving compensation only from the sale of her personal assets that had been wrongly frozen, and not from the sale of ‘tainted’ assets.” Josephina recently moved from the large family home into a home much smaller and commensurate with the settlement she received.  This has allowed her to continue on with her life in a new and different way and to raise her children.   Another sad but understandable consequence of this matter was that, in March, Josephina’s divorce from her husband was finalized. “It breaks our heart that the children will likely grow up without a father,” said Springer. “While we understand that people and institutions who did business with her husband lost money,” Grant said, “Josephina and her children were the first victims of this crime. We have found that this has unfortunately been the case in so many other families, as well. ”

Jeff Grant and Lynn Springer hope that Josephina’s story is just the beginning for their family ministry and a ray of hope for victims living with undeserved shame.  “No more hiding, no more going it alone in fear, unknowing, grief and shame. We have been where these people have been and we are here to help them to the other side,” Grant explained,  “”this is a story of shining a light on a dark place, a story of triumph.”

To contact Rev. Jeff Grant & Lynn Springer at the Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project, Greenwich, CT: prisonist.org.

 Walt Pavlo, is a contributor to Forbes.com where he writes about white-collar crime. He is the co-author of Stolen Without A Gun, which he co-wrote with Neil Weinberg (Editor-in-Chief at American Banker). Mr. Pavlo’s story has been a part of training programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, major corporations, and top ranked MBA programs across the country. He is also an on-air contributor on the topic of white-collar crime for CNBC and FOX Business. His website is 500 Pearl Street and he can be reached at waltpavlo@500pearlstreet.com.




_____________________

Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project


at Christ Church Greenwich
254 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Conecticut 06830

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883

Central Ministry & Office:
Weston, Connecticut

Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
(o) +1203.769.1096


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

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

George Bresnan, Advocate
gbresnan@prisonist.org

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Out of Hiding, by Rev. Jeff Grant - Successful Resolution of Our Lead Case on Behalf of an Innocent Spouse & Children

Progressive Prison Project 

Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Greenwich, Connecticut



Out of Hiding: 
Successful Resolution of Our Lead Case 
on Behalf of an Innocent Spouse & Children

by, Rev. Jeff Grant
  
The Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project announces the successful resolution of our lead case - we believe this is the first time in United States history that an innocent spouse has been compensated after her personal assets have been frozen by the government (together with her husband’s assets when he was the defendant in a financial crimes case)
  

Preliminary Statement, 
Press Release & Prayers
_______________ 

Preliminary Statement



The hiding place at 263 Prinsengracht 
is relatively spacious… 
“Mr. Kugler thought it would be better to have 
a bookcase built in front of the entrance to our hiding place.” 
Anne writes this in her diary on August 21, 1942…
-AnneFrank.org
 
There are innocent mothers and children suffering in silence in this country.  In hiding places you are least likely to suspect.  Their family names have been blazoned across headlines.  Their children have been taunted, ridiculed and bullied at school.  Their friends have abandoned them.  They are whispered about, pointed at and disdained.  They have been shunned in their churches, synagogues, and civic organizations.  They cannot afford to feed themselves without food stamps, or to heat their homes without state aid.  They sit inside with the blinds and curtains drawn - waiting for the day their homes will be sold out from under them. 

What great sin did these mothers and children commit that we should treat them in such a manner?  They dared to be the first victims of husbands and fathers who were convicted for white-collar crimes.  In the United States, in 2014, this is a Scarlet Letter of the worst kind.  We should be ashamed of ourselves. - Jeff Grant
_______________

Press Release

June 5, 2014, Greenwich, CT: The Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project is pleased to announce the successful resolution of our lead case on behalf of an innocent spouse and her children, in achieving for them compensation, and the return of assets, from the U.S. Receiver.  We believe this is the first time in United States history, that an innocent spouse has been compensated after her personal assets had been frozen by the government (together with her husband’s assets when he was the defendant in a financial crimes case).  All compensation recovered for the innocent spouse was strictly from her personal assets that had been frozen, and not from any assets of her husband's that are to be apportioned to other victims of his crimes.  According to Rev. Jeff Grant, Director, "This is not only a life-changing event in the life of this family, it is a milestone in our mission for this unique class of victims - innocent spouses and children of people convicted of white-collar and nonviolent crimes," according to Rev. Jeff Grant, the Project's Director."

[The names and details of the family are being withheld to protect the minor children.]

Loyal readers of our blog, and those of you who have attended our sermons or talks, know that we have been diligently pursuing the rights of innocent spouses and their children in financial crimes matters where the government has asserted overreaching asset freezes, leaving them without means of support or access to counsel.

The Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project has served as ministers to these spouses and children, and as team leaders - assembling compassionate ministers, advocates, lawyers and other professionals to provide them spiritual comfort and support, and advocate for their rights. 



 “This woman and her children represent a new class of victims – mothers and children who are deserted by people convicted of white-collar crimes who go off to prison leaving them without sufficient means to survive, and a system that has historically deprived them of their assets and, in so doing, access to counsel.” 
 - Rev. Jeff Grant, Minister/Director, Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project



“She came to us hopeless; she and her children were penniless and on the verge of homelessness.” “We are thrilled that through this resolution the end of this type of injustice is in sight for all innocent spouses and children.” 
 - Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate, Innocent Spouse & Children Project.



“After months of negotiations, we were able to achieve this resolution on behalf of this woman and her children only after it became absolutely clear that they would be receiving compensation from the sale of her personal assets that had been wrongly frozen, and not from the sale of any other assets.”  “It has been an honor to be of service to her, her children and all innocent spouses and children in this class of victims suffering in silence.”  
- George F. Hritz, Esq., Lead Counsel.




About the Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project, Greenwich, CT: Religious and Spiritual support of families and community members affected by inner-city, white collar and nonviolent incarceration issues. “The First Ministries in the United States created to support the Families of people accused or convicted of white collar and other nonviolent crimes." 

For more information please visit: prisonist.org.

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 Prayers

> Gracious God, The world is full of broken people searching for wholeness and unity. We thank you for the Innocent Spouse and Children Project, that seeks to provide justice for those affected by the criminal actions of others. Help us all to have compassion for all people, whether innocent or guilty. Help us to remember that our own brokenness can be made whole through your love and redemption; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  
- The Reverend Sam Owen is a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and is the priest in charge of the Haitian Congregation of the Good Samaritan in the Bronx, NY.
 

> And God accepted Job’s prayer and God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life. (Message)

Precious Presence: in your Holy Name we come, YOU who brings us together from different places  and with diverse needs. Some of us are confused and concerned: worried that our yesterdays and the decisions we made in days gone by will affect our tomorrows.

Some of us are weary: worn and sad that it seems as if no one cares about us and what will happen to us. Especially those we love who are still depending on us. In these times we wonder: who can we turn to, who can we lean on, who will help us? God, thank you for your word to us, your word that reminds us of your “never ending”, “always faithful”, “with us even to the end of time”, that we can trust. How you super rule and over rule any situation that would turn the bright day of hope into the darkest despair.

Eternally Faithful Spirit, we lift up to you those who need to know the God of a Second Chance, those who need to know the One who looks beyond our faults and sees our needs, the One who never leaves us alone, no never alone, but who, even when we walk in paths that leads away from You, comforts us with the Blessed Assurance that You are still with us, through it all.

Ever-Loving God, we are confident that you hear our prayers, still we ask you to help us to experience now what it is like to be given a second chance, the opportunity to be restored, renewed, and refreshed by You. And may this 2nd chance, or is a a 3rd, 4th or 5th, thank you God for not keeping count but may this chance transform our hearts and our lives so that we might live faithfully for you. We ask this in your Eternal Name. Amen.
    
- Rev. Dr. Bernard R. Wilson serves as the Senior Minister of the Norfield Congregational Church, Weston, CT
 

> Father, Mother, God, Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days. For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days, for then we can share that which we have with those who have less. And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days, for then we are able to celebrate you and our families and our friends. For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak. For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness. For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing. For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company. For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.


Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most—Peace.

- Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014), American poet, author, dancer, and singer.

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We would like to thank the following professionals and organizations for their service (among the many others who have generously given of their time and spirit):


Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate, Innocent Spouse & Children Project, Greenwich, CT

George F. Hritz, Esq., Lead Counsel, New York, NY

Marion Bachrach, Esq., Thompson & Knight, White-Collar Counsel, New York, NY

George Catlett, Esq., Local Counsel, Stamford, CT

Eric Posmantier, Esq., The Law Offices of Eric Posmantier, Family Law, Ridgefield, CT,  Greenwich, CT

Duane Berlin, Esq., Lev & Berlin, Corporate Law, Norwalk, CT

Joseph Deltito, M.D., Greenwich, CT

Rev. Hopeton Scott, First Baptist Church of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT

Rev. Jim Lemler, Christ Church Greenwich, Greenwich, CT

Rev. Jennifer Owen, Christ Church Greenwich, Greenwich, CT 

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Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project


at Christ Church Greenwich
254 East Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Conecticut 06830

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883

Central Ministry & Office:
Weston, Connecticut

Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
(o) +1203.769.1096

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

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

George Bresnan, Advocate
gbresnan@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 or Dropbox. 



To RM, PM & TD, three fine men who sent me off &
picked me up seven years ago this morning -  
a special, personal thank you and blessing.  Jeff

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Comments from Linked In:

This is a great achievement. Weldon sir, how I wish I can do the same to my fellow inmates here in Nigeria
By Hezekiah Olujobi