Aug. 15, 2015

(Ed note:  We have eleven weeks of political announcements and attention seeking stunts for proposed new policies, all meant to shout down the other.  Few of these announcements will ever reach to the authentically human impact of the policies, or even care if the policies will create more hurt than cure, especially for the vulnerable around us.  SJNC offers these first two selections to invite us all to be focused on what makes us quietly better humans, reaching out to the pain in others.  They stem from MOMS at the recent Prisoner’s Justice Day in Ottawa.)

 MOM IN WAITING- Farhat Rehman

The waiting begins with the telephone call

“Your son’s been arrested,” you feel your heart fall.

You wait for the hearing and pray he’ll get bail

And meanwhile you wait with your son who’s in jail.

You wait for his call so you know he’s all right

You wait for the morning, there’s no sleep at night.

The bail’s been approved, he must be at home before eight,

You wait, barely breathing, til he comes thru the gate.

You wait at the lawyers’, you wait with your son

In hopes that by some chance it can all be undone.

As you wait for the judge to decide your son’s fate,

You pray, and you wait and you wait and you wait.

The sentence’s announced, your heart falls to the ground,

The wait is not over but has just turned around.

And now the long wait for your son to come home

And yes, you’ll keep waiting for that day will come.


A Second Chance To Be Mom


I am lying in bed thinking, thinking, and thinking.  I am hopeful and fearful all at the same time. Tomorrow will be my last scheduled visit to see my son at his home institution. It will probably be a closed visit due to staffing issues but I don’t care. We will have lots to talk about. In 16 days my son will be released.  I am scared but excited. No more orange jump suits; no more glass. His release plans are in place. What more could a mother ask for. He will have served his time and I will be there to support him when he “gets out” He has told me he has made new goals and that he has a plan. I think he will welcome his freedom. Naivety is a beautiful thing.

I rise early to get ready for my long drive to the institution.  I can hardly wait to see him. He must be nervous but excited. I wonder how he is feeling about coming home. Freedom should be a beautiful thing!  I am wearing my usual orange t-shirt in solidarity.  It is a little joke we have had going on since his incarceration.  But just before I am set to leave my home the phone rings.  Should I answer it?  What the heck I have a few minutes before I need to leave; I answer the phone.  It is the social worker calling from the prison. There has been an incident and your visit for today is cancelled.  What?  Why?  What’s going on? My heart sank.  Your son tried to commit suicide last night. He tried to hang himself in his cell but a fellow inmate found him in the act. Thank God is all I could say and started to cry. I owe so much to his fellow inmate but will never get a chance to say thank you. I am grateful every day that there is a sense of community and loyalty among the inmates or my son may have become another statistic. I keep asking myself why this is happening now. Freedom is supposed to be a beautiful thing. I am thinking he needs his mother more than ever but I was told that there will be no contact for several days. All I can do is sit, worry and wait. The social worker explains that it is not usual but some inmates nearing their scheduled release often feel that they can’t make it on the outside and think that suicide is their only way out. I am so sadden to hear this explanation.  My son had plans but the outside world has become a stranger; an enemy of sorts. In his mind he doesn’t know how he can cope with his restrictions and conditions when he is released.  It would be easier if he just killed himself.

He told me later that he was overwhelmed, ashamed and scared.  His self-worth and dignity were shattered. His self-esteem was so low that he thought it would be easier for him and everyone else if he wasn’t around.

He is now out and is doing better but his time in prison has changed him. Suicide is not a solution but a symptom of the current prison system.

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”  Nelson Mandela

I hope one day that my son will be able to reclaim his freedom.

I am glad to be his Mom.

In solidarity to all the Mothers who have children on the inside.



The Washington Post – Sari Horwitz
From a first arrest to a life sentence – Clemency is the only way out for the thousands of nonviolent drug offenders serving life terms in federal prison  

The article is about first offender Sharanda Jones in Texas, sentenced under federal law mandatory terms for non-violent drug offences.  It offers an excellent picture of what is essentially severe and over the top about these mandatory sentences and leaves little option at this point but some sort of clemency to restore justice in the mass incarceration problem.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/07/15/from-a-first-arrest-to-a-life-sentence/

Toronto Star – Laurent Bastien Corbeil
Former Malvern Crew member awarded $3.4 million in suit against government

Jason Walters is left permanently injured from a half hour beating and stomping by rival gang members with whom he was locked up in the Don Jail.  Supervisors said they did not know but the court said negligence and awarded the $3.4 million saying: “He (Walters) has proven that this negligence caused the catastrophic injuries he sustained.”    http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2015/08/13/former-malvern-crew-member-awarded-34-million-in-suit-against-government.html

Toronto Star – Editorial (Aug. 14, 2015)
Tories put partisan interest ahead of public trust in Duffy affair 

The PMO “was consumed with putting partisan Tory interest ahead of the public trust…  Wright’s testimony underscores the extent to which the Conservatives have betrayed the public’s trust, blackened their government record and debased their brand.”     http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2015/08/13/tories-put-partisan-interest-ahead-of-public-trust-in-duffy-affair-editorial.html    Related article: Globe and Mail: Steven Chase    Wright defends PMO pressure on Duffy  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/wright-told-rcmp-duffy-probably-shouldnt-repay-expenses-trial-hears/article25951406/   Related article: Globe and Mail:  Editorial (Aug 13, 2015)   Alms, alms for poor Mr. Harper   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/alms-alms-for-poor-mr-harper/article25960825/   Related article: CBC News    Nigel Wright redacted PM email about resolving Duffy expense controversy, court hears    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/nigel-wright-redacted-stephen-harper-email-about-mike-duffy-expense-controversy-court-hears-1.3190761

Hamilton Spectator – Editorial (Aug. 14, 2015)
No looking away from gun crime incidents in Hamilton – We need to pay close attention and invest in prevention

The editorial reviews two recent killings and police response before asking if everything involving non-police means is being done to prevent these sort of incidents.  The editorial; calls for recognizing pro-active intervention by community based groups, especially in the case of at-risk youth.  http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/5797489-the-spectator-s-view-no-looking-away-from-gun-crime-incidents-in-hamilton/