Sunday, August 07, 2016


Sunday Reflection: Freedom

On Wednesday of last week, President Obama commuted the sentences of 214 people. Eleven of them were clients of the Clemency Resource Center that Rachel Barkow and I started at NYU, through the great work of Deb Gramiccioni, Erin Collins, and the staff there. Three more of the 214 were represented by my students here at St. Thomas, through the Federal Clemency Clinic.

This just about as good as it gets as a teacher: getting to see your students change the world in some discrete, observable way.  

Ashley Bennett won the freedom of William Freeman.
Eric Hylok and Jamie Waldon won the freedom of Charlie Lawaury.
Marc Spooner and Derek Hansen won the freedom of Billy Ennis.

All of them had been sentenced to very long sentences (including life without parole) for non-violent drug crimes.  All have already served at least a decade in prison. 

The reaction of one of them was this: "God is good." 

Great news!
Continued vindication that what you -- and your crew -- are doing is bona fide "God Work." Be blessed.
I was going to say, "fantastic!" but that isn't the right word.

What is that combination of excitement and joy and deep satisfaction, combined with a sense of melancholy for all the others and the years already lost? It's like saving survivors from a sinking ship, while thousands slip away.
I don't mean to be a downer. I'm genuinely thankful for this great news!
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