Jerry Davich: Inmate to county: ‘I am eternally sorry for hurting anyone’
JERRY DAVICH August 11, 2013 10:28PM
Updated: September 13, 2013 6:20AM
After criminals are arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison, many have historically offered apologies to their victims for their wrongdoing. It’s as common, even as cliché, as a kid who gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar and feels ashamed afterward.
But I’ve never heard from an inmate who has apologized to an entire county until now.
In 2011, Shane Perry of Portage received a 16-year prison sentence for delivery of cocaine, following 12 previous felony convictions since age 18. He has been in jail or prison since 2006 and his release date is some time in 2016.
In 2011, a judge sentenced Perry despite testimony from the Porter County Jail warden, medical director and a jail captain on how the then 31-year-old man has positively changed while incarcerated there. The judge questioned whether Perry could function outside of the jail’s structured life, but hoped prison programs would someday rehabilitate the troubled man.
Last week, I heard from Perry’s fiancé, asking how he could somehow offer a public apology for his wrongdoings through the years. I asked her, an apology to whom exactly? To Porter County, she replied.
“I owe the people of Porter County an apology that I do not even know,” Perry wrote to me. “My actions have a way hurting unseen and untold individuals. For this reason I am writing this missive in hopes of anyone who reads this, and was hurt or affected by a drug user or dealer, will feel as though they were apologized to.”
Were you victimized or affected by Perry’s crimes through the years? Does his apology mean anything to you? Or does it ring hollow and insincere? If you’re only a casual observer to this situation, do criminals’ apologies in general mean anything to you? Or only their righteous, remorseful and law-abiding actions after being released from prison?
Perry said since his incarceration began in 2006, he has sought out a way “to right the wrongs I have done.” He’s been involved in several recovery programs and he currently lives in a “therapeutic community” at the Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill.
It is an “intense” recovery program, he says, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for more than a year now.
“I have worked the 12 steps and have done all I can do at this time to better myself,” Perry wrote to me. “Step nine calls for me to make amends to all the people I have wronged. I have made amends to everyone in my life that I have directly hurt.”
“I am aware of my contributions to the epidemic of the drug problem in our community. To say that I am remorseful is a great under-statement,” he wrote.
Perry said he has learned how the consequences of his actions — or anyone’s actions — have a trickledown effect on many other people.
“Although some may think I only harmed the persons I sold drugs to, I believe that whatever harm they also may have caused as a result of using drugs. Whether it be crimes committed to obtain the drugs, an accident while using (drugs), or a family they may have stolen from.”
The issue of crime and punishment always fascinates me, which is why I regularly return to its dilemmas, paradoxes and polarizing outcomes through individual situations such as this one.
Is there hope for people like Perry? Spiritual redemption? Societal rehabilitation? Are you tired of hearing about people in his situation? Are you upset that I wrote a column about this issue? If so, let me know.
You see, this column really isn’t about Perry, who I’ve never met and probably never will. It’s about you, me, us. It’s about our views on his past misdeeds and his subsequent attempts to atone for them.
Our perception of crime and punishment, which is both timely and timeless. Our apathy or anger or forgiveness regarding the Shane Perry’s of the world.
I’ve learned that our views on this issue profoundly change when our personal lives are directly affected, compared to reading about this in the abstract. If you have a loved one in such a predicament, you may understand more than others.
I’m not featuring this issue to glorify Perry or re-victimize the people he wronged. But instead to challenge you to either define, defend or debate your beliefs on such a touchy subject.
We often frame this topic through our typically strict interpretation of “right” and “wrong,” period. But there’s much more to it than that, I’ve learned. I’m more interested in the gray area in between. Why? Because life is painted in such murky hues.
“It is my burden to carry,” Perry wrote. “I know I can only be accountable for my actions and I am truly sorry for any pain caused by crimes of this nature.”
Echoing the hindsight rationalizations of other drug users and dealers, Perry said, “It is hard to see past the drugs when someone is using (them). It does not register that there are lives being affected as a result of use or deals involving drugs.”
“It is only in quiet reflections or taking the steps to resolve one’s drug addiction that these things come to mind. I am eternally sorry for hurting anyone,” he concluded.
Was Perry guilty of wrongdoing? Of course. Is he paying his debt to society? Obviously. But is he similarly guilty of now offering a blanket apology to all of us, possibly sincere or possibly obligatory? Hmmmm… this is the gray area I’m talking about.
You make the call, but don’t become emotionally incarcerated by your own prejudices, arrogance or self-righteousness.
Do you have what it takes to be the next Mrs. Fields, Orville Redenbacher or Chef Boyardee? Northwest Indiana native Tekisha Collins believes she does.
The Calumet High School graduate will be a contestant on the new reality TV show, “Supermarket Superstar,” Lifetime Channel’s competition series that gives everyday Americans the chance to prove they have the country’s next great product.
Collins, the daughter of Larry and Lalita Jones in Portage, auditioned in Chicago for the one-hour show, which follows home chefs as they pitch their product concepts to titans of the food industry for the opportunity to have their creation launched nationally in a major grocery chain.
Collins, who now lives in Indianapolis, will appear on the TV show this Thursday at 9:30 p.m., showcasing her product, a Smoogy Cookie, “the first and only cake in a cookie that you eat frozen,” she says.
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