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Friday, December 27, 2013

A Prayer for the Third Day of Christmas: Release for Long Held Prisoners

"I, the Lord, have called you... to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness."
Isaiah 42:6-7 NIV


Imagine spending half of your time every day confined to a space as small as a medium size bathroom. At meal times and some other times you live in equally crowded spaces surrounded by concrete walls and barbed wire, never able to get away from the hundreds of fellow detainees with whom you share a concentration-camp-like environment for years on end. 

Whether detained for just or for unjust reasons, decades of such confinement become an unusually cruel form of relentless punishment.

So pray with me on this third day of Christmas for the humane release of three people like the following:

Mr. A. Jefferson Grissette #1143033, currently at St, Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake was free on parole and doing well just two years ago. He had a good job, was working full time, paying off his debts and getting his life together. Unfortunately, he became a convenient suspect in a credit card theft case in Arlington because of some similar crimes for which he had been convicted earlier in his life. The only evidence against him was based on his resembling an obscure image caught on a surveillance camera. Without due process, he got another 18 years in prison after being urged to take a plea agreement rather than face a jury trial.

Also please pray for the release of men like Mr. Nat Painter #1009725, age 72, who is still incarcerated for a crime he committed 19 years ago, but who has consistently demonstrated good behavior in prison, and only wants a few remaining years of a normal life with his loved ones. He has repeatedly been denied parole in spite of his almost certainly not being any further danger to society. His address is Coffeewood Correctional Center, 12352 Coffeewood Drive, Mitchells, VA 22792.

Virginia Public Radio
Likewise, pray for the release of Mr. Jens Soering #1161655, age 47, to his native Germany. Jens, whom I met at the Buckingham Correctional Center a couple of months ago, has just spent his 28th Christmas in a Virginia prison for a crime he says he foolishly confessed to at age 20 to save his then girl friend from being convicted of capital murder. As a son of a German diplomat he assumed he would be sent to Germany for a trial and get a lesser sentence. When she testified against him he got two life sentences here and she got 90 years. Jens has had nine books published since his incarceration. His address is BKCC, P.O. Box 430, Dillwyn, VA 23936-0430.

For an excellent Washington Post column by George Will on mandatory sentencing, check this link.

And here's a good article on the increasing numbers of aging citizens in our prisons.

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