Ex-con­vict begs for for­give­ness

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine Wil­son-Har­ris Sun­day Gleaner Writer na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

FORGIVING HIM­SELF was the only way Howard Davis said he was able to deal with prison life af­ter be­ing sen­tenced to 10 years for killing the mother of his two chil­dren dur­ing a do­mes­tic dis­pute. But the ex-con­vict is now hop­ing to re­ceive for­give­ness from the vic­tim’s fam­ily.

“I have al­ways begged for the op­por­tu­nity to tell my vic­tim’s fam­ily that I am sorry,” said Davis, who has been out on pa­role since June of this year.

“More times, we as the of­fend­ers are hurt by the crime that we have done. I see it as im­por­tant in one’s life to even try to make amends, and you have to push out the ef­fort.”

Davis said the day he killed his girl­friend of eight years in a fit of rage was the low­est point of his life. At the time, he was 25 years old and was an­gry be­cause he was be­ing teased by the com­mu­nity and her rel­a­tives that his daugh­ter was a ‘jacket’.

“Aunty and cousins, more time, both­ered me that is jacket I was mind­ing. It did stink inna the com­mu­nity that a ‘jacket’ mi a mind,” he shared with The Sun­day Gleaner.

“I was so young and fool and ig­no­rant, I made it em­bed inna mi and boil up in me and get bit­ter inna mi. I was bit­ter. It con­trolled my nerves and took over my limbs. I was a pris­oner to the sit­u­a­tion.”

CALL­ING FOR DNA TEST

He said he asked for a DNA test and that cre­ated an is­sue. He said the stress he was un­der was com­pounded be­cause, at the time, he was the only bread­win­ner for the fam­ily.

“When me hear that the baby a ‘jacket’, those were the things that me think, be­cause mi see that I was stress­ing my­self more time, night and day to put food in the house,” he re­counted.

“It end up that I go up to the yard and me and her fam­ily mem­bers had an ar­gu­ment. When I reached up there and me and her was in an ar­gu­ment, a one stab she get and she dead.”

Davis had a lot of time to think about his crime in prison, and even did a course that taught him how to man­age stress. He noted that not ev­ery of­fender was re­pen­tant, but he had per­son­ally ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to his vic­tim’s fam­ily to visit him in prison so they could dis­cuss the impact his ac­tions had caused.

Just re­cently, he was given the op­por­tu­nity to apol­o­gise to his son, who was just two years old when his mother’s life was taken.

“I told him that I am sorry. I told him that I know he feels hurt, and I told him that I would want my mother too, and I would feel a way. They (chil­dren) lost a mother and it was be­cause of me,” he lamented.

“Yes, I did some­thing wrong and I ac­cept it, but I want to move on with my life.”

MORE PRIS­ON­ERS WANT FOR­GIVE­NESS

Pro­grammes manager at Stand Up For Ja­maica, Ge­orge Love, said there are many pris­on­ers hop­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to apol­o­gise to their vic­tims or fam­ily mem­bers af­fected by their crime.

“Per­sons have ac­knowl­edged that, ‘hey, I did some­thing wrong and if I could have turned back the hands of time, I

would have dealt with things dif­fer­ently’,” said Love.

He said he has per­son­ally come across about 30 of­fend­ers

who have ex­pressed their de­sire to seek for­give­ness from their first and sec­ond vic­tims. These in­di­vid­u­als were charged for crimes such as mur­der, car­nal abuse, fraud, rob­bery, and shooting with in­tent.

As a restora­tive jus­tice fa­cil­i­ta­tor and hu­man-rights advocate, Love be­lieves di­a­logue be­tween of­fend­ers and vic­tims can help re­duce re­cidi­vism and curb the over­pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try’s pe­nal in­sti­tu­tions.

“It is im­por­tant be­cause it will help to cur­tail the whole need to have re­venge, to re­tal­i­ate. It helps to build re­la­tion­ships be­tween the of­fender and the vic­tim’s fam­ily, and be­tween the of­fender and the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Love, who was shot by a fam­ily friend at age 13 and was crip­pled as a result, said he has per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­enced the lib­er­at­ing feel­ing for­give­ness brings.

“I do not see my­self as a vic­tim. I see my­self as some­one who has over­come chal­lenges and who has seen those chal­lenges as a step­ping stone to be­ing a bet­ter per­son. To bring me to a po­si­tion where I am more aware of my roles and re­spon­si­bil­ity in na­tion build­ing through cre­at­ing hu­man and so­cial cap­i­tal. Hence, this whole thing of RJ (restora­tive jus­tice) is very im­por­tant for me, and some­thing that is very per­sonal,” Love stated.

‘I was a pris­oner of my bit­ter anger’, shared man who killed girl­friend be­cause he thought his daugh­ter was a ‘jacket’.

GLADSTONE TAY­LOR/PHOTOGRAPHER

Davis: I was a pris­oner to the sit­u­a­tion.

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