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.
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.