A friend who volunteers for Ottawa Inner City Ministries emailed me about a recovering alcoholic who has been caught in the Kafkaesque machinery of the justice system:
Tom is a recovering alcoholic that will be celebrating seven years of sobriety in two weeks. He works his 12 step program and is determined to stay clean. He came to visit us, then volunteered, and then entered our work skills program. He comes to the office four days a week to help: no job too big, no job too small, he does them all – with a cheerful heart. He has a record but his probation ends in two short months – and he works hard at keeping clean. He won’t even cross the street without a walk signal.
Clean. Squeaky clean. Pleasant, kind, hard-working, and a delight to be around. We have high hopes for Tom.
So one day, he doesn’t show up. A day, then two and more and then a week and we wonder where he is. No way to contact him. Finally we find him – in jail.
He is in jail right now, been there just over two weeks for “parole violation”. For “panhandling”. Reported to his Parole Officer (P.O.) by an “anonymous” person who called it in. Over fourteen days in jail (and counting) with no help. No lawyer. No hearing. No explanation. Just “there”.
There are further instalments here.
Many churches spend their time petitioning government to help the poor while doing little themselves; this organisation is helping the poor in spite of a government that seems to be determined to undo its good work.