Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Favorite Felon

His name is Jeff. There is NO WAY I'm going to tell you his last name. I don't know how real life detectives and police officers do this - I was just walking down the street yesterday, minding my own business - because that's what I do, and I get this: "Hey Jude! Hey Jude!". I turned around, there was this guy, a normal looking guy, sort of tall, sort of thin, sort of young, but I didn't know who he was - or why he knew who I was. He caught up to me, because I stopped, and he said "You don't remember me? I'm you favorite felon!" OH, Oh, my gosh, yes, I remembered him. He was, as he said, my favorite felon. I met him several times in 1995 when the attorney I worked for represented him in a drug sting. You can guess the rest. I haven't seen him since 1995 for a reason.

Jeff was the funniest criminal I had ever had the pleasure of interviewing for the purpose of having contact information, basic and/or general knowledge to see whether or not my boss would want to represent him. I'm not saying the boy should have gotten a better attorney, after all, he admitted his guilt to me - then told the 12 jurors all about how he was set up, entrapped by the policeman he eventually sold cocaine to, and you know the story he told. It was a sad and drawn out tale, one that I'm sure broke the hearts of his mom and his girlfriends at the time, but not the jury and certainly not the D.A. Jeff went straight to the big house and he's just now getting to see the light of day. He told me he's been out about four months, he has a job, he's going to college (like I told him to in 1995) and he's becoming a - get this - detective. I don't know how that works. I don't know if you can become a law enforcement officer once you've been convicted and have served over 12 years for a crime you didn't admit to. I hope he's serious, I hope he gets his life on track, the one thing that bothers me if his venue. He should seriously consider moving if he's going to be going after the guys he ran around with in the 90's.

What I liked about Jeff then, and I like about him now, is his genuine kindness. He was a man who was convicted, he was a serious threat, but he was a humanitarian in his own mind. According to Jeff, he only sold coke to adults. He only sold it to people who could afford it, and he actually paid taxes on what he earned - that was the part that made me laugh. I asked him what he claimed to be his occupation on the 1040A form. He said he wrote "Sales". You just have to love a man with conviction - even if he has convictions. Another thing that endeared Jeff to me in 1995; just 13 days after I first met him he was involved in the rescue efforts of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Jeff the felon - digging through rock and wreckage to give hope and life to others. He went to jail shortly after that day. I know I wrote to him a dozen times to encourage him to read and write, to go to college if they'd let him, and to be careful in the pen. One thing he had going for him (he says) was the FACT, the absolute FACT that he never harmed a child.

What was it that Jesus said "Comfort those in prison." Jeff has a new hope. I can't believe he recognized me after all this time - but it was good to hug a man who I believe could be a new man. God, I hope so. The world could use a few more Jeffs, but with less sales convictions.

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