I heard a saying that is popular amongst those of us who get tired of the same old rhetoric. It goes something like, “if you’ve heard one story, you’ve heard them all”. This saying is true and we all can vouch for that and have experienced this in our lifetimes. However, I aim to shed a different light on this saying because although we’ve all heard it before and can attest to its truthfulness, every story is not the same, no matter how similar or identical.
Take my case in point. Almost twenty years ago, my two friends, no that’s not the right term to describe the affection shared between the three of us, my two “brothers” and I had the unfortunate opportunity to be introduced to the federal system by way of some choices/mistakes we made.
It’s easy for one to look at or view a situation from an outsider’s perspective and be unsympathetic to the particulars of the situation. Which is often the case for lawmakers sitting in Washington passing laws and indirect judgment on those whom they will never have direct contact with nor feel the adverse affects of their decision making. Sympathy only comes from those directly affected by any given cause or circumstance.
That is why it’s easy to view every story as if to say, “you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all”. Yeah, our cry is the same as those of over 3,000 others in similar or same situations as I and my co-defendants, my brothers. But our stories are not the same. If you need verification, just ask the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children of all of us affected by the laws Congress passes and the U.S. Supreme Court interprets so irrationally.
Yeah, you may have heard my story, and the story of my co-defendants many times over from other similar situated inmates, but until you’ve heard the stories from the perspective of the family members of the inmates and how their incarceration has affected them, you haven’t really “heard” our stories now have you? Everyone has a different story to tell as to why they have the time and convictions they have.
But the stories substance doesn’t come from those of us who are actually doing the time, I mean, honestly, you have heard the stories all before. No, the substance, the true value of the loss felt as a result of the 924(c) “stacking law can only be explained by the families of those of us who are incarcerated under this irrational interpretation of a law designed for repeat offenders.
Yes, “repeat” offenders. It’s ironic how this law was designed to deter the use of firearms “repeatedly” by those prone to crime when the majority of us serving numerical “life” sentences for this charge are “first time offenders” who have never been to prison, let alone even had a conviction. When will the change that is long overdue come? When Congress, those sitting on Capitol Hill or those interpreting law feel the adverse affects of this unjust law/statute?
Given the circumstances surrounding the applicability of this law, it’s highly unlikely that those who rest so easy at night after enacting and interpreting these laws will ever truly understand the magnitude of the devastation they have contributed to so many “American” families. But with the proper voices “screaming” for change to this reprehensible law, then we can agree with Obama when he asks the rhetorical question regarding change,
“Yes We Can“!
Changing this law does not mean to do away with it completely because we are a country of laws and laws are needed to protect the citizens of this once great nation.
No, the change we need is the “proper” interpretation of the law and that is that in order for one to be sentenced under the stacking provision of the 924(c) statute, they have to have already had a “judgment” of conviction in a “prior” proceeding for a 924(c) conviction, and “NOT” multiple 924(c) charges/convictions coming from the same indictment under the same proceeding.
Then we can truly see the justice and necessity for this statute and when properly applied, the needs of the people and justice will be best served.
Yes, I know we’ve heard this argument and stories all before and they are pretty boring when you think about it and when you hear it repeatedly. But can you blame those of us who came in as children and young adults and now are grandfathers who were forced to watch from states away as loved ones have passed on to the next life?
Can you blame us for constantly screaming our stories when we come in as youths and are forced to grow up quickly in this “mini” world that we live in here where there is nowhere to run or hide when things get “crazy”, when you are forced to take a stand in a foreign environment where it’s “dog eat dog” and no one has your best interests at heart?
No one cares about you. and things like “trust” and “love” or “loyalty” are as uncommon and foreign as Obama being President of the United States in 1950’s America? Yeah, our stories are the same in here, but you don’t have the right to devalue or depreciate mine, nor any of the others’ until you’ve walked a few steps in our shoes.
Or at least until you’ve seen the faces of our loved ones and their expressions as “they” tell you our story. Then and only then, will you see that our stories are NOT the same because the memories and love my family have for me will be told differently and with different specifics than those told by the families of my comrades who are and have been suffering in this world we have been forced to live in for so long due to the interpretation of a simple line in a statute…
You can Let Your Voice be heard and make a difference.
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By Rob. A
Click here to Read Rob’s Story