When I met Scott nearly four years ago I was going through some major life changes. I’d just gotten divorced and I’d been working in my current job for nearly four years. The job had initially given me a lot of satisfaction and went a long way toward allowing me to overcome my long time negativity of my self worth. I hadn’t gone to college and I’d spent a long time in an environment where our relative worth was identified by how many stripes we had and the fact that we had stripes and not bars, oak leaf clusters or eagles on our shoulders.
Then I had an opportunity to work as a sales person in the telecommunications industry and it was exactly the kind of job I needed. How good you are is measured in very simple terms. Are you selling, or not? Within a very short period of time, I was the top sales person in my company and I was making more money than I ever dreamed possible. People treated me differently than they ever had before, although I was exactly the same person I’d ever been.
At first I was like a kid in a candy store. I bought a bigger house, I bought expensive clothes, and I treated myself to obscenely priced, self-indulgent day spa treatments and began collecting expensive wine. But the thrill was short lived and I soon realized that the only thing the job and the additional money had done for me was remove those negative feelings of self-worth – which was a good thing, but it certainly wasn’t making me happy or satisfied.
I began thinking of the job as a means to an end. It became a near term way to save for the time when I didn’t need to make a certain level of income. I began thinking in terms of what would come next. I wanted to do something that would make me feel like I was contributing, making a difference or doing some good in the world. I thought maybe I could take my newfound sales and marketing experience and get into fund-raising for a non-profit. I researched it and found that although there are literally thousands of good causes, none of them sparked my passion.
More time went by and I continued to save and bank my commission checks, saving for the time when I could walk away or cut down my hours and do – what?
And I started to write again. I thought, maybe fiction writing is a way to make a difference, if not directly then indirectly. About a year or so later, I popped up here. Life was great and I was following my heart, but there was still a nagging desire to do something that might make a difference to real people.
In December, I posted about the Frontline special, “When Kids Get Life”. I had watched the special, which focused on five inmates in my home State of
Regardless of the circumstances of the crime, the thought that children as young as fourteen or fifteen would be locked up with adult violent offenders, without therapy or any form of rehabilitation was incomprehensible to me.
In 2006, the State of
I contacted The Pendulum Foundation after seeing the show and eventually met with Pendulum’s Executive Director, Mary Ellen Johnson. Mary Ellen is a remarkable woman, who became involved with Pendulum fifteen years ago. She has appeared on television programs in several countries, testified before law makers, participated in panel discussions and wrote a book about one of the juveniles, Jacob Ind. The Murder of Jacob was published a number of years ago, but is still available on Amazon.
The more I learned, the more I wanted to help. I could not imagine a system that would dictate that our society would not even open up the possibility that juvenile offenders could be treated, rehabilitated and someday, after taking responsibility for their crimes, at least have the possibility of freedom. I told Mary Ellen to consider me a volunteer for anything she thought I could do – forwarding information out on upcoming events, researching issues – whatever would be useful. Mary Ellen recently contacted me after sharing the December blog post with Curt and Pat Jensen, the founders of Pendulum and asked if I’d be willing to volunteer as their publicist. I don’t know anything about being a publicist, but I’m willing to learn. Mary Ellen and the Jensens know that I work full time and have a limited amount of time to dedicate, but they need all the help in promoting awareness that they can get.
Last night I created a new blog, called Compassion in Juvenile Sentencing. I’ve learned through this blog that the blogosphere can be a powerful medium for establishing dialogue. I have no illusions that trying to raise awareness and garner support for shorter sentences for juvenile offenders will be popular and I fully expect, if I’m lucky enough to draw any traffic that I’ll experience hostility in the blogosphere for the very first time.
But for starters, I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do. I’ve added a link to the new blog on my sidebar and since I know that many of you have experience working in PR and even working in the legal and juvenile justice systems, I’m asking for your help. Please comment or email me with any ideas or advice you have for me. If this issue resonates with you at all, please help me to spread the word. The Pendulum site has a call to action that lists things that you can do.