For over 425 men and women who have attended one of the three hundred meetings put on by Jeff Grant and his White-Collar support group, this is a meaningful number. For those who have been indicted, convicted, and served some sort of sentence for White Collar Crime, every waking minute of every day is filled with worry and pain.
The worry centers around: how will I pay for a criminal defense lawyer? Will I be able to survive incarceration mentally and physically? How many years will I be away? How will I support my family financially? What will happen to my spouse and family relationships while I’m away? How will I rebuild my professional life after my release? What is wrong with me that I have been able to commit a crime? Would it be easier to take my life?
As brutal as these questions seem, every one of them and more fills the obsessive mind of the convicted White-Collar Justice Impacted individual. In an instant, the problems of yesterday that seemed so significant, turn into ones of basic human survival and what seems like life and death at every turn.
The negative effect on one’s psyche is immeasurable. Often time, hopelessness and depression set in, daily tasks become difficult, and it is near impossible to imagine a future with anything but the present pain. Life seems like it’s over and that you are alone as no one has experienced exactly what you have.
Fortunately, for the over 425 attendees of Jeff’s group, although we have collectively experienced over 155,125 days of pain, there is hope. Every Monday night, a group of White-Collar Justice impacted individuals gathers by zoom. The individuals in attendance range from those with recent arrests and indictments, to those who have been out of prison for more than twenty years. We have our routine of prayer, the introduction of new members, resource sharing, then a new topic relative to the challenges we all struggle with. Often, much of the session is dedicated to supporting those who have an upcoming sentencing hearing or are soon to report to prison.
Those who have attended one of Jeff’s meetings can tell you that the impact on their lives is immediate. Attendees get questions answered, receive encouragement that they will make it through this difficult time, receive advice on how to handle their stage of the process, and realize that they are not alone in their crime, nor the collateral damage associated with it. One after another, attendees state that they are ecstatic to have found this resource and express gratitude for the care and concern of everyone.
Although much of what the group is experiencing are a few years past for me, I can say that the meetings remain the safest, least judgmental and accepting space I have available. There is something about commonality, shared experience and true acceptance that brightens the human spirit and allows one to move forward knowing, I am not alone, there have been many before me and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
As Jeff and his group move toward the 300th meeting, the days of pain will continue to pile up. But thanks to Jeff’s selfless dedication and the caring hearts of the group’s members, those days will be more manageable. Those experiencing them have a resource and friends to reach out to and in the end, all will find a renewed life of hope and acceptance.