Monday, January 20, 2014

When Have You Paid Your Debt to Society and Is It Possible

So I feel like there are times in one's life when you are faced with a decision that on one hand seems simple, but when you dig deeper and think you feel the struggle.  I am at one of those moments.  You see I have a choice to make. The person who murdered Linda is up for parole and I can write a letter to effect the outcome.  It is not the first time I have had this choice and the last time it was just as difficult but the letter came right before I went to Kenya so I took the burden with me, and surrounded by ministers on that trip I had built in set of councilors.  So here I am again, a few years later and not sure if I made the right decision so I figure I will see if the online world can help me.

You see Jamie Morton is up for parole.  Jamie Morton has been in prison since 1987 for the murder of my then fiance, Linda Akers.  Many of my close friends know the story.  He came to my apartment, looking to strike out at the world and it was me he was after.  She was there.  Sadly he attacked and killed her.  He was mentally unstable and at his first trial his outbursts annoyed the judge.  At a retrial on the day before I was to testify, he plead guilty in a long tirade to the court (or so I was told I didn't witness the trial).  So I received the letter on Saturday asking if I wanted to make an victim impact statement, and thus my choice.  Do I write something to sway the the parole board, either to let him leave prison or to keep him in or do what I did the last time, nothing.  I don't know what to do.

My struggle is that there is a part of me that wants to have faith in the system.  We created a judicial system with rules.  It was meant to be dispassionate.  Crimes have consequences but there is also a sense of mercy.  Someone once said that our society should make sure we treat our worst prisoners in the best possible way because if we do then we can insure that all others in society will be treated with dignity by the government.  That includes the idea that a some point our prisoners, even our violent ones, might get a second chance at society.

However, this man not only took Linda's future but changed mine.  He stole a daughter from her parents, a sister from a brother and a woman who would have made a great mother from the potential children.   He took Linda's light out of the world.  Should he be free to rejoin the world that his actions made darker?

So I feel paralysed.   I could easily just let the chips fall, I know I can write an eloquent letter where I argue for him to remain in prison.  But would that be vindictive and selfish?  I am a hypocrite?  Would I  argue for this if I wasn't so personally involved?

I could also see myself writing a letter suggesting that his release is in the best interest of justice if he can function in society.  I do not think our justice system should be about revenge.  There is no way that anything that happens to him will change the fact that on August 31st on 1987 my life was changed in a way that at various times have haunted me terribly.  So if he has been rehabilitated and is no longer a danger to anyone what value is there to keeping him in prison?

So I turn to my friends and readers.  What advice do you have?  There are several choices.  But they boil down to this:  1.  Remain silent to the proceedings.   2.  Write a victim impact statement asking for him to stay in prison.  3.  Write a victim impact statement saying that if he is rehabilitated that he should be freed. (This last one is because if I truly believe in the system shouldn't I use this opportunity to influence it in this way?)

I honestly don't know what I want to do.  I wish I could learn he was a horrible prisoner, or in a gang, or still so mentally unstable.  In that case there would be no reason to let him out.  But what if he is the opposite?  What if he bettered himself in prison, what if he was someone who could give back and while he will never be able to fill the whole he created in the world, he could maybe help others not create similar wholes in the future.  I don't know, and maybe that why I am so lost in this.

So while I will try to add to my information I ask you, be honest, what do you think I should do?  What do you think about this situation?  I am looking for advice so feel free to leave a message here publicly or via email.  I am hoping for insight.  I hope you can help.

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