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Amber Bode, board chair, shares her story and invites you to support the work

This blog post was written by Amber Bode, Truth Be Told’s board chairman. Amber talks about her work as a criminal defense attorney and what drew her to want to work with Truth Be Told. She ends with an invitation to support the work by attending a memorable fundraiser in September.

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This week I will be having a very serious talk with a young man about going to prison for a very long time. It’s never easy. He is accused of two first degree felonies and one second degree, and the evidence seems to be strong against him. He has never been to prison, and he is extremely scared — he is claiming his two co-defendants used him in order to place blame. One of them just got 75 years in prison from a jury a month ago, and my client’s offer is 40 years in prison.

I am his attorney. I am also the chairman of the board for Truth Be Told.

I had been a criminal defense attorney for years before I heard of TBT. I started my career working at the Attorney General’s Office in the Law Enforcement Defense Division, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (the prison system in Texas) was the largest client. I felt defeated day after day when a person I represented got shipped off to TDCJ.

Around 2002, TDCJ cut all the rehabilitative programs and just left what I call preachers and pills. They allow clergy to come in and counsel people, and they allow psychiatrists to prescribe medicine or “pharmaceutical therapy.”

As the daughter of a therapist, I was shocked.

Prisons with no rehabilitative programs make us as a society less safe. The empirical evidence is overwhelming. Yet day after day, month after month, and year after year, I continued to represent people of all ages being sent off to be dragged down by the brutal prison system.

When I found out TBT offered meaningful programs in prison that used artistic creativity to actually work through what brought them there in the first place, I couldn’t believe it at first. Then I wanted to be on the board of directors! I wanted to help change the women’s lives, not only for the participants but for myself as well.

I needed to see people find redemption.

I have always believed that if a person wants it badly enough, there is always another chance to be better; to love yourself, to forgive yourself, and to heal. In facilitating that healing, TBT heals families and changes the lives of the participant’s mother and father, sisters and brothers, husbands, children, and everyone they know.

TBT is fueled by volunteers. Our programs are primarily hosted by volunteer facilitators that we train and are responsible for in the prisons. TBT is completely privately funded.

On Sunday, September 9, 2012, from 7-10 pm, well-known jazz trumpeter Jeff Lofton has agreed to give a private show to our guests seated on the roof of Parkside during a 100-person, 5-course dinner that will benefit TBT.

Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here.

It is going to be a phenomenal event.  The 100 people that attend are going to be very lucky. Tickets are $135 each, or $250 for two, and the evening will be well worth it while also benefitting TBT. We are also seeking gold and platinum sponsors for the event.

Whether you are a prosecutor, housewife, or teacher, if you are in favor of making our society safer, stronger, more accountable and creative, you can support Truth Be Told.

Counseling a young person about a 40-year prison offer is lot more palatable when there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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About MaryAnn Reynolds

Offering bodywork in the Austin, Texas, area at maryannreynolds.com. Blogging about wellness at The Well: bodymindheartspirit. Serving as a volunteer editor for the Truth Be Told Community blog.

2 responses »

  1. Angie Wilburn Kennemer

    On a side note: reform for the families and children who are left on the outside while the people we love and care about serve out their time needs to be addressed as well. It’s easy to say “well they did the crime they deserve the time”. Yes, I’m not disagreeing with this fact and am for it. Sometimes a “timeout” (as I like to call it) is neccessary for the refprm to begin but more has to be done. I was reading an article about the statistics of the children effected by inprisoned parents. They are heartg breaking and nothing good rarely comes out of it. These are the children who are the future. It’s not like they go away.

    Reply
  2. Angie Wilburn Kennemer

    Amber
    Thank you for making this blog. Reform can only come from within and seeking a higher power and just blind faith sometimes. This comes from personal experience with my husband. This man should have been in prison for numerous accounts facing (this last time) 10 years. I have recently been able to experience this change in him due to 1. He has been sober for 6 months. 2. He did some serious work on his own person issues. 3. As a result of this work he has had a spiritual experience and God is now filling the voids that were in his heart that were being filled with alcohol and drugs and anything else that would temporarily satisfy the emptiness inside him. I have personal experience with lawyers and the court system and believe as a society there has got to be something done. I believe that things happen for a reason and have experienced on a deep level were cases have been no billed and dropped on more than one occasion basically due to the fact we could afford the right lawyer. In saying that it is my experience that there has got to be a change in our prison system. My husband had spent sometime in prison before for the same thin he we no billed on. So to me in the beggining this would be a no brainer. He would be gone I could just move on with my life. I can’t help but wonder while he served his time out several years ago for the same charges he has faced over and over again DWI’s and felony domestic violence) I’m beggining to experience the cycle here and unless its stopped and reformed it coninues to go on and on effecting and destroying everyone and everything in its path. I can say it is my experience today only that my husband has received a change but only because of a spiritual experience he is receiving through who we like to call God. Only though it has been a short time I do have faith that things can be reformed and be made whole and new again. I don’t know if any of this is making any sense but what you wrote in your blog spoke to me and this is what came out. I’m only one person and I do know that sending my husband to prison to be put on medication or just left to his own decices without any reform. Are you kidding me? Although I don’t know what the future holds I can say that what the hell are they thinking??

    Reply

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