Sunday, March 23, 2014


Sunday Reflection: Another hero

Last week, I wrote about the remarkable Kent McKeever, who is in the midst of doing something very brave and very public.  This week I want to write about another hero, who does work that quietly moves our country closer to what Kent seeks.

I first met Jeremy Haile in a policy meeting.  We often have found ourselves in the same places: in a conference room at a law firm or a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building.  The first time, though, I remember very well.  Jeremy came over and waited until I was done with my conversation.  He introduced himself; he had just started to work at the Sentencing Project with legendary analyst Marc Mauer.  He knew some things about what I was doing, and mentioned having read some of my work.  We started talking about Texas, which I had just left and which was his home.  After a few moments, he used the word "faith."  It was like a secret handshake.  He understood why I was doing this (and why Kent does too) because we share that.

He comes to this work from a slightly different background than I do.  He was in the Peace Corps, serving in Armenia, after finishing at Abilene Christian (a school that produced many of my favorite people).  Then he went to law school at George Washington before working for Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett for several years.  Now he works on the same federal sentencing issues I do, and I count on him.

The letter I wrote to the Washington Post was drafted at his suggestion:  He correctly figured that the article that spurred it would have struck me the same way it did him.

Jeremy works in the trenches of legal change.  He worries about bills being marked up, about vote counts, and about sponsors. He understands those things in a way that people like Kent and I don't.  In the end, it will be Jeremy that makes change happen in the specific, real, meaningful way that matters the most.  And he does it because it is what faith, our faith, compels.

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This post is extraordinarily kind. It's also hyperbolic. When we achieve real, meaningful federal sentencing reform -- and we will -- it will be thanks to the work of thousands of advocates, lawyers, scholars, and citizens who have spoken out over many years demanding a greater measure of justice. As a relative newcomer, I'm happy and honored to join those efforts.

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