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OP-ED: Don’t ‘kill’ Sandy

Public approval. The thread upon which the acceptance of a person within society hangs. It is built on the undulating foundation of current opinions, standards and conventions, many of which are decidedly frowned upon by time. 

The reform process for prisoners should never be limited or confined to them learning art and craft, joinery, mechanics, attending the church services inside the prisons or taking part in counselling sessions while locked away in jail.

Reform should be holistic as far as applicable and no one should be limited to the types of or levels of reform they should be exposed to.

Orwain Sandy was convicted of murder. He has since appealed his life sentence.

Much in the same manner that persons are when a sensationalist bit of journalism is ingested by the public who then become judge jury and social executioners.

He was sentenced to life in prison. In other words, he was sentenced to death at an indeterminate time by natural (or possibly unnatural) causes, and stripped of his freedom until that time arrived.

Just allow that reality for a moment to sink in. 

For a convict, upon sinking in, a flood of despair, anger, frustration and a host of other competing (and all negative) emotions washes over them in ways most of us would never have to even try to imagine.

Motivation to even continue on living can be a hard thing to come by. Moreso, that to continue attempting to better oneself.

What is the point of an education? What is the point of anything if it all just means that you’re going to die in prison?

When thoughts like that set in, some of the most dangerous, difficult to control shadows of former humanity are sometimes created.

Reasoning such as “no matter what I do, I’m going to die in here.  If I commit a crime what are they going to do?  Lock me up again?” begins to set in.

At that point a person becomes little more than a subhuman nuisance fit for nothing more but being locked away from society. Just as they were deemed the moment the first salacious article appeared in the news.

What strength must it take for a man like Orwain Sandy to overcome this and pursue an education? 

About the same strength that it would take for a close minded society that has written him off as subhuman and undeserving of the opportunity, and castigated the prison system for assisting him to seize it to effect a paradigm shift and migrate to a more forward thinking and open minded posture. 

What benefits could come from it?  Free persons unburdened by capital criminal convictions would have little excuse not to better themselves, persons convicted of lesser offences could hardly justify feeling despair after seeing what Mr. Sandy has done.

What possibilities lie for him to be of use to society from the inside? Rehabilitation and education programs for other prisoners? Mentorship? And if ever there was a candidate for a pardon, especially for what may have been a crime of passion, it would seem that a person who was able to pick himself up from such a fall would be the one.

Many are on record as calling for and even lambasting local prison system for not doing enough to ensure that prisoners go through some amount of reform while in the institution.

Now that they have been hit with the reality of a prisoner trying to reform himself, some of those same people are screaming from the top of mountains.

One senior journalist in his apparent non-support for Sandy taking a clear reform path, was more concerned about who took the photograph of Sandy in his gown. A clear case of damned if you do , damned if you dont.

Orwain Sandy will be in prison for a very long time for the crime he committed but hundreds of prisoners will come into contact with him and be back into society sooner than later.

Think for a moment the positive influence which Orwain Sandy can have on those prisoners before they leave the prison and how it can contribute to them not returning to their life of crime once out of jail.

Don’t ‘kill’ Sandy the way he killed his reputed wife. Killing Sandy’s quest to reform himself could robb other inmates of the opportunity to be mentored from within the walls by an experienced colleague inmate.

It can also robb society of men in prison who were thinking about following Sandy’s footsteps in reforming themselves to return into society a better person, but who could choose to no longer see reform as viable given the public ridicule Sandy is facing in trying to be a better person.