December 9, 2010
Will never had a chance. The oldest of six children, his father was a drug dealer and his mother an addict. His role model was an uncle in prison. When asked why he chose him as role model, Will replied: “Because he never hit me.”
When he was nine years old, a DFACS worker came to remove him and his siblings from their home. Will jumped out of a window and ran away to avoid foster care. He was certain the abuse in the foster system would be worse than what he had already lived through.
From then on, Will lived on the streets – sleeping at different apartments around town. He was dealing drugs by the time he was 15 and became involved in the fight that would change his life. Someone died. Although he claimed self defense, Will was charged with the crime, and faced life in prison. His case didn’t look good. Despite the long odds, GJP saw an inner strength in Will.
As our Executive Director, Doug Ammar, recalls – “I said to the attorney reviewing his case at the time, ‘Don’t take it believing that you’ll win. Do you believe in this young man?’”
“I do,” he replied.
“That is the reason we should help him then. Because we are going to be with Will for the long haul.”
GJP took his case, fought hard in his trial, but lost – as we thought we would.
But we stayed with Will for the long haul – visiting him in prison and working with his family. One of the things Will remembers most from our support efforts while he was in prison is the birthday cards we sent. This small gesture was just one way we continued to build and maintain a trusting relationship that has withstood many obstacles. We also continued our legal advocacy, even after we lost the case, and eventually won a motion for a new trial. Because of this, we were able to reach an agreement to reduce his life sentence.
After 10 years in prison, he is on parole, and he has worked every day since his release at our landscaping company. Today there is not a wider smile in our office than when Will walks in. Everyone at GJP knows that his freedom is nearly a miracle. And he knows it too.
When we met Will, he embodied the reality of the streets. Today he is focused on his family, his job, and never going back to prison:
GJP has been like a family to me. You have been there for me. . . .I don’t want to be the person I was. Before it was all about “Self.” GJP offered what I had been longing for: acceptance and support. It is the fuel for my engine.
GJP is the fuel for many of our clients’ engines. We build trusting relationships that start with high quality legal representation, but continue long after the case is resolved.