And so it began…

When one hears about a crime, judgment and condemnation towards the perpetrator can come easily. At least they always did for me. My resolve was simple, if one breaks the law, one should be punished. I believed that the punishment should match the crime. An “eye for an eye” if you will. However when my brother committed a horrific murder, my views and my life changed.

I began to see crime differently and realized that responses to it were not so simple.  Crime involves real people. When a crime is committed, real people are harmed.  In my brother’s case a precious life was taken, two families, many friends and communities were deeply wounded by the actions of my brother.  He deserves to be punished, but I did not want him to die. My beliefs were being challenged and I was conflicted.

I felt anger and shame. The pain my brothers actions inflicted is tremendous. I was certain that I knew how I would have responded and what I would have wanted, if it had been my loved one that was murdered. Yet, the brother I knew was not a murderer. He was a young man who had had many struggles in life. He got lost and made a terrible mistake. While my beliefs had made sense in theory, in practice they no longer did.

While it was justified, killing my brother would not change what he had done. His death would not bring a life back. It would not repair what he had done, nor would it heal the wounds that he inflicted. In truth his death would cause further pain to those who love him. Was it right to make us suffer for what he had done? I began to realize that my former beliefs did not serve a helpful purpose, nor did they offer any comfort. Would there ever be anything that could?

This group was created out of a desire to help others.  My own experience has taught me that there is very little understanding of those with a loved one in prison and their journey. It is the goal of T.O.D.D. to help contribute to meaningful changes.

Elizabeth Leenheer

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