A story came in from one of our Advocates recently that was right for this month, when we think about the meaning of love. Real love, big love. How it can sustain us, and how we show up for it.
An extremely low-income woman was charged with stealing. She was held in jail on a bond she could not pay, panicking because she couldn’t care for her husband. He was unhoused and experiencing mental illness. Her lawyer pleaded with the judge to release her to care for her loved one, but the judge was unmoved.
At PFJ, we don’t just work for individuals; in many instances, we work for whole families. In this case, that’s what our Advocate did. Our client’s greatest concern was her husband, so that’s where our Advocate dug in. Immediately, she convinced a housing program that was technically not taking new applicants that they should make an exception for the husband, who had a high covid risk. She got a case manager to his location, who helped him transition to safe temporary housing in a local hotel.
Our client's greatest concern was for her husband.
Meanwhile, our client, her lawyer, Advocate, and our friends at The Bail Project did some incredible work:
- The Bail Project paid her bail, reuniting our client with her husband.
- Our Advocate ensured she was supported in attending her regular recovery group, and
- Secured an employment case manager for her.
The client and the Advocate began searching for permanent housing, hoping to have the family permanently housed in their own apartment soon.
As it often does, all the love our Advocate put into this case got phenomenal results in court. Her initial felony charges were dismissed and she was able to resolve her case with a misdemeanor and no jail time. For now, love and liberty have won the day.
Our system, as it currently exists, is designed to anesthetize its actors; it prevents judges, prosecutors, and jailers from feeling the full weight of the harm our system does. Our language shields them--“custody,” “defendant,” “juvenile,” “sentence,”-- are words designed to formalize and remove the pain of caging a human being. Sharing the details of a life--a person’s work, fears, challenges, and, yes, love, make it impossible to continue the dehumanization of our system. Telling their story breaks the wheel and pushes the whole system towards freedom, mercy, humanization, and restoration.
We’re proud to keep telling those stories. With love.