Many of you read about this situation when I posted about it on Facebook yesterday. I was really just sharing my sadness and frustration at a stupid, unfair situation.
But to my surprise, I received a humbling outpouring of encouragement and support for my friend. (I don’t want to say his name because I actually haven’t had a chance to speak to you him yet. I’ve put some money into his inmate account but I don’t know when he’ll have access to that nor when he’ll be able to call me.)
Many of you wanted to contribute something to help him.
The GoFundMe campaign I started must be reviewed since this is in connection with a legal matter. So I’m launching this here and I’ll post the GoFundMe when I’m able. If you’d like to go ahead and support, you can use paypal.me/themichellesmith
Watch this video or read below to get the story. I’ll post more here as I know more.
A dear friend and neighbor of mine — black man about my age — has been locked up in Buncombe Co. Jail for no good reason. 90 days of what amounts to debtors prison. He hadn’t been able to pay his restitution off as fast as his PO demanded. Though they did take his last $110 before they locked him up. And he’d just landed a job this week! (80% of black men in Asheville are unemployed). It’s just so stupid and pointless, no social benefit at all. Complete waste of taxpayer money and a good person’s ability to contribute to the world.
He started out cutting my grass and became someone I really depend on to help me maintain my home. As a single woman with few handy skills I’ve felt his presence in my life to be a real answer to prayer. I’ve been able to help him with online applications and referrals, things like that. I encouraged him to value his time and work. Sometimes I paid him ($15/ hour, living wage) and sometimes we just did stuff for each other as neighbors and friends.
We’d have coffee together most mornings. He’d walk Minnie. Over time we’ve cultivated one of those “transformational, not transactional” friendships that Desiree Lynn Adaway schools us about.
I’m just so sad and angry. The egregious injustice and stupidity of the justice system has become more than an abstraction for me. ( I mean, don’t get me wrong, many of the finest people I know have been in jail. But not when I knew them or was old enough or close enough to visit or have it really touch me.)
So I’ve spent a couple of hours yesterday figuring out the visitation system and sending him some money. Visits cost $9 and they’re not even in person! They’re like a Skype call. I know many of his friends and family would like to visit with him even if it’s just online but that amount would be a real hardship to do on a regular basis.
This is going to be a deep journey for me – not that it’s about me, of course. I hope I can be of some comfort and support to my friend.