In December a group of Justice & Mercy friends, will pause their busy schedules and volunteer for a face-to-face visit with every inmate in the Lancaster County Prison.
Justice & Mercy’s mission is to convey, through the prison bars and solitary confinement meal slots of each incarcerated
person, the true meaning of Christmas which is the hope Christ offers. Along with a Christian greeting card and a Whoopie Pie, is the unspeakable message that the church cares, someone cares and most importantly, Jesus cares.
Last year’s visit concluded with 1,100 Whoopie Pies distributed to inmates and staff at the Lancaster County Prison by 30 volunteers. The visitation is followed by a luncheon at the Eden Resort where guest speakers raised the level of criminal justice awareness and volunteers shared their testimony of visiting with inmates.
Justice & Mercy is seeking individuals who, after prayerful consideration, feel led to join the ‘Circle of Christian friends’ and visit inmates on Thursday, December 14, 2023. Tickets for this unique opportunity, which includes the luncheon, is open to fellow Christians for a tax deductible love offering of $250. To attend the luncheon only, tax deductible tickets are $150. Business and corporate sponsorships are available.
Save the Date! December 14, 2023 • Don't miss out! Reserve you place for visitation. • Sign up online now.
Easter Celebration & Chocolate Cross Delivery @ Lancaster County Prison Brings Fellowship & Friendship
followed with Luncheon @ Eden Resort
A Christian Greeting Through the Bars
April 14, 2022 at 8 a.m. twenty nine Justice & Mercy, Inc. volunteers arrived at the Lancaster County Prison to bless the inmates. Equipped with a a Christian greeting card explaining the true meaning of Easter, Justice & Mercy, Inc. volunteers delivered an up close and personal greeting to every cell block and every inmate right through the bars. Justice & Mercy, Inc.'s mission is to let prisoners know that God has not forgotten them and working through the Church, God cares about their present situation and their future.
Justice & Mercy, Inc. has visited the Lancaster County Prison, every year for the past 15 years. The reason for Justice & Mercy, Inc.'s visitation is to let the prisoners and staff know that the Church cares, and wants to bless them with the message of hope. The distribution was great, and the Spirit of God was upon the prison, inmates, staff and the volunteers. Every volunteer felt like they made a difference in the lives of the inmates and in their own lives as well, as they refocused their perspective to meeting needs of those who feel they’ve been forgotten. Jesus said, “I was in prison”, so Justice & Mercy, Inc. found Him among the least of these.
Public Officials Spoke with Great Ideas After We Prayed for Them
Justice & Mercy, Inc. volunteers and guests arrived at Eden Resort in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at 10 a.m. Testimonies from the Chocolate Cross Day outreach at the Lancaster County Prison was truly a blessing! Four guest speakers, included District Attorney of Lancaster County, Heather Adams; Lancaster County Warden Cheryl Steberger; Lancaster County Vice Commissioner, Joshua Parsons; and Volunteer Coordinator of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, John Hargreaves.
With prayer for each speaker before they spoke, it was amazing how the Spirit of the Lord was present as the subject of prison reform and changes being made in the Criminal Justice System were discussed. It is common knowledge that the system is far from perfect, but on April 14th 2022, Justice & Mercy, Inc. raised the bar upon the quest for a more Godly and just system, particularly for the poor. Justice & Mercy, Inc. has been called to affect public policy for good, and will continue to do so.
Looking for Jesus in Prison
Justice & Mercy, Inc.'s primary motivation is the Matthew 25:36 Project; Jesus says, “I was in prison, and you visited me”. Justice & Mercy, Inc. through the Pennsylvania Prison Society (PPS), has the right and responsibility to visit any prisoner in private throughout the State of Pennsylvania, in both County jails and State prisons. Justice & Mercy, Inc. is able to make a substantial difference in the lives of many prisoners through letters, phone calls, emails, and occasionally personal visits. Unfortunately, Justice & Mercy, Inc. does not have the resources to respond to all the requests we receive. That’s where Justice & Mercy, Inc needs your support.
Hearing Inmates Problems
When inmates’ problems at the prison can be solved without a personal visit, it’s much more economical. The hard work is being able to understand the problem a prisoner faces, and come up with a solution that works for the prisoner, his family, and the prison, plus the people of Pennsylvania. This requires time, equaling $100. - $1,000. per solution. There is no true justice without some mercy.
Nobody is perfect, and no one can afford to throw the first stone. Justice & Mercy, Inc. works hard for the right solution and right decision for everyone involved. Justice & Mercy, Inc. sincerely thanks you for helping us do the right thing.
Tough Problems are a little Harder & Impossibilities Take a lot Longer & More Prayer
The tougher cases that Justice & Mercy, Inc. works on, like pre-trial alternate sentencing, helping deserving individuals receive parole and a home plan that guarantees successful reentry into society.
Next are the innocent individuals who’ve been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, called wrongful conviction. Justice & Mercy, Inc. has served on the Innocence Commission appointed by the Senate of Pennsylvania for a three-year period. Justice & Mercy, Inc. is amazed at how many innocent people were serving a murder conviction where the exculpatory evidence proved their innocence and they've been set free.
Unfortunately, finding the truth about innocence or guilt can be lengthy and expensive process. Along with other organizations, Justice & Mercy, Inc. estimates helping 300 people get set free in Pennsylvania, through discovery of exculpatory evidence or DNA testing. This process can take 5 - 20 years since the truth is not always easy to discover.
The problem with convicting an innocent person is that the real perpetrator is still in the community and able to commit more crimes. Justice & Mercy, Inc. works at improving public policy and improving the criminal justice industry, so the right perpetrator is caught the first time.
Good relationships with Public Officials are Important & Prayer is More Important
Sometimes your prayers are the only thing that make the difference. God still hears our prayers. An Angel who stands before the throne is offering our prayers up to God. Please keep praying and giving, as God is still on the throne.
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.”
– Revelations 8:3-4
May God bless you a hundred-fold for all you do, give, and pray.
– Dr. Tom Zeager, President
Justice & Mercy, Inc.
Keynote Speaker: Speaker of Pennsylvania House, Bryan Cutler; Special Guest Speakers, Lancaster County Prison, Warden Cheryl Steberger; Attorney Chris Sarno, Clymer, Musser, Sarno P.C.; Pennsylvania Prison Society Volunteer Director, John Hargreaves.
What’s New? Justice & Mercy’s Newsletter – July 2020
COVID-19 and the PA prisons
According to the Pennsylvania Prison Society (PPS), the reported death toll is 6 people in custody (prison) and 2 correctional staff. PPS believes this number is an undercount since reporting is not happening as it could.
“Most county prisons are not regularly reporting on the virus spread. Neither the Pennsylvania Department of Health nor the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections require county prisons to report testing information or virus-related deaths. While the state releases numbers on the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes every day, Pennsylvanians behind bars are not counted’ (direct quote from the PPS newsletter dated 5/26/2020. For more information please go to the site below.
The following Justice & Mercy cases are only two of several cases we are working on:
PL is currently in Lancaster County Prison where he will be going before the court. PL has had a troubled traumatic past. He was put into the foster system at a very early age. His parents and his family did not want anything to do with him. He went from foster home to foster home and was finally adopted by his foster parents. However, PL was abused by those parents. Consequently, he made wrong choices and ended up in jail on many occasions. PL is reaching out to Justice & Mercy. He wants to be put into a Christian based program to teach him those life skills he never learned. PL states, that his use of drugs was to kill the pain from the trauma of his childhood abuse. He understands that going upstate to prison is probably not going to make him a better person and is requesting assistance to get into a strong Christian program that will help him make proper choices and become a strong productive citizen.
JM Partner, what can you do for PL? Please keep him in your prayers. He is a Christian and he says he wants to do the right thing.
Justice & Mercy’s -- Current Case:
2. Angela Diaz
Angela Diaz is a wife and a mother of two children was living her dream! Then, one fateful day Angela found herself in prison charged with 1st degree murder. Her world would come suddenly crashing down. It all appeared to be a nightmare.
Justice & Mercy has taken a position that Angela Diaz is an unpretentious, gentle natured, Good Sarmatian that is wrongfully charged with 1st degree murder. Angela has been in the Lancaster County Prison for over 24 months without a trial. Justice & Mercy has hired Chris Sarno, Esq. from Clymer, Musser, & Sarno, PC., to defend Angela. The Attorney General, Josh Shapiro is wanting to make an example of Angela. Their position is that Angela got frustrated, lost her cool, and beat the child up badly, killing her in the bathtub. They have no facts, they have bruises on the body, pictures, and not one witness.
Tom Zeager, President of Justice & Mercy and several others associated with Justice & Mercy do not believe that Angela is lying when she states she did not do it. The Attorney General’s office is pushing for 1st degree murder, which is life. Without $250,000.00 for hiring of professional people to research and forensic evidence we are not going to move this case to innocence. We are praying and believing that in the 500 pages of information that the attorney has, we will find something in there to defend Diaz with.
JM Partner, What can you do for Angela? Angela needs finances to hire forensics investigators to assist her case. She also needs you to pray!
Just Mercy – by Bryan Stevenson
“Just Mercy” is a true life story, must-read book. It chronicles the work of Bryan Stevenson, founder of Equal Justice Initiative (a legal practice defending the poor, wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the criminal justice system). Walter McMillian was released from prison after being on death row for a murder he did not commit. To read further about McMillan’s case please go to: https://eji.org/cases/walter-mcmillian/
The following is an excerpt from the book titled, “Just Mercy”
“I just come here to help people. This is a place full of pain, so people need plenty of help around here,” said an older lady sitting on marble steps of the courthouse. She went on to say, “It’s what I’m supposed to do.” This lady explained that her sixteen-year-old grandson had been murdered. She grieved and grieved. She went to the court every day for the trail of the boys that killed her grandson. “The judge sentenced them to prison forever. I thought it would make me feel better, but it actually made me feel worse’, said the grandma. So, now she goes to the courthouse to let those who need someone to lean on, lean on her. “I come here to catch some of the stones people cast at each other.”
“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone” — John 8:7
“Today, our self-righteousness, our fear, and our anger have caused even the Christians to hurl stones at the people who fall down, even when we know we should forgive or show compassion. We can’t simply watch this happen; we need to be stone catchers” (Stevenson, 2015).
Stevenson, B. (2015). Just Mercy: A story of justice and redemption. New York: Spiegel & Grau.
**If you would like a copy of this book, let us know at Justice & Mercy.
Want to become a Justice & Mercy Partner? Here’s how:
1. Join the Pennsylvania Prison Society (PPS) to become a monitor and inmate visitor.
2. Donate to Justice & Mercy as we continue this work.
3. Pray for all incarcerated individuals and for the work of Justice & Mercy.
‘Let’s be Stone-Catchers’
Together We Make a Difference!
JM Partner, please consider in becoming a Matthew 25/25 Partner:
Justice & Mercy’s core precept is found in Mathew 25:36, “What is the greatest commandment of all?” To which, Jesus answered, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.
Our mission is to put into action these words by ministering to inmates and their families. Your unconditional Christian love, your generosity, and prayers will enable Justice & Mercy to expand its ministry by giving inmates and their families a voice and an advocate in the criminal justice system.
For your generous automatic monthly donation of $25.00 on 25th day of each month for one year or for your gift of $300.00, Justice & Mercy will give you reserved seating, priority signup for all of our events, and a gift to you.
Justice & Mercy is committed to Praying for Our Partners!
(Please include your prayer request)
Keep in Touch!
Justice & Mercy Partner is updating our contact information. Please take a few moments and complete the form below. Be sure to include an email address (if one is available), phone number(s) birthdate(s). Your information will NOT be shared. It’s for Justice & Mercy’s use only.
First Name_______________________ Last Name________________________ Middle Initial_______
Spouse Name (if applicable) ____________________________________________________________
Street address: ___________________________________ City________________________________
State________ Zip Code____________ Home Phone #____________________ Cell #_____________
Birth Date: ________________________ Spouse Birth Date: _________________________________
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Day of month for deduction ________________OR: One Time Donation$______________________
How can we help you? Send Justice & Mercy your Prayer requests ____________________________
**Click the Link below**
Justice & Mercy Partner, presently county jails house a large majority of people that cannot afford a good attorney or bail and therefore, must rely on public defender’s office. How should this system be changed to give those who are disadvantaged a better chance at justice?
(Please put your answer below)
The Angela Diaz Case:
Angela Diaz is a wife and a mother of two children. She supported her children in the many activities they were involved in and also belonged to the Parent/Teacher Organization (PTO). Angela watched her daughter participate in gymnastics at a competition level and become a lead cheerleader. Angela was living her dream! Then, one fateful day Angela found herself in prison charged with 1st degree murder. Her world would come suddenly crashing down. It all appeared to be a bad dream.
Angela’s cousin and his wife asked Angela to keep their two girls, Brooklyn and Dallas, for a period of time. Without hesitating, Angela and her husband drove down to Georgia from Pennsylvania to pick up the two little girls. The girls were not cared for by their parents and were in need of love and attention. Angela and her family took the girls in like their own. For six weeks, the girls lived with Angela and her family. Brooklyn and Dallas flourished with the love and care they so desperately needed. The parents stated they were ready to take the girls back home to Georgia. It was apparent after a short period of time Angela’s cousin and his wife were ill prepared to care for the 2 little girls. Angela and her husband picked up the two girls again upon request of the parents. It was clear that the girls were different this time. Little Brooklyn was quiet, reserved, fearful, weak, bruised, thin, and fell often during the day. Angela went right to work caring for the girls without thinking to notify the authorities of their current condition.
Then one day life changed as they knew it. Angela had taken her children and the two little cousins to a sporting event and a park nearby. Upon returning home, Brooklyn started vomiting profusely. Angela became frantic and called 911 and Brooklyn was immediately transported to the hospital. Unfortunately, Brooklyn died. The little girl was brain dead, and a few days later life sustaining measures were removed. Angela was arrested for the murder of Brooklyn. Angela unequivocally states she did not commit this crime. Justice & Mercy has received 50 letters from various people stating Angela did not commit this crime!
Justice & Mercy has taken a position that Angela Diaz is an unpretentious, gentle natured, Good Sarmatian that is wrongfully charged with 1st degree murder. Angela has been in theLancaster County Prison for over 24 months without a trial. Justice & Mercy has hired Chris Sarno, Esq. from Clymer, Musser, & Sarno, PC., to defend Angela. The Attorney General , Josh Shapiro is wanting to make an example of Angela. Their position is that Angela got frustrated, lost her cool, and beat the child up badly, killing her in the bathtub. They have no facts, they have bruises on the body, pictures, and not one witness.
Tom Zeager, President of Justice & Mercy and several others associated with Justice & Mercy do not believe that Angela is lying when she states she did not do it. The Attorney General’s office is pushing for 1stdegree murder, which is life. Without $250,000.00 for hiring of professional people to research and forensic evidence we are not going to move this case to innocence. We are praying and believing that in the 500 pages of information that the attorney has, we will find something in there to defend Diaz with.
What can you do for Angela? Angela needs finances to hire forensics investigators to assist her case. She also needs your prayers!
In an effort to improve our ability to serve our partners and community better, we have updated our website. We would really like to know what you think. Please fill out this short survey.
What are some things that changed in this season of our lives?
1. School cancelled parents are forced to home school.
2. Social distancing
3. Tape on floors at grocery stores for social distancing
4. Limited number of people in stores
5. Church closed and services online—the church has been deployed for first time—we now have church online, including Bible Studies online.
6. Non-essential stores and businesses closed—including liquor stores and gun shops
7. Parks, trails, entire cities locked up
8. Entire sport season, concerts, tours, festivals, and weddings cancelled
9. Panic buying, toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer hard to find.
10. Selves bare in stores
11. Government incentives to stay home
12. Gas prices lowest in years-nowhere to go
13. Wearing masks to go outside our home.
14. Facetime and Zoom to family.
15. Restaurants with curbside service, Hair Salons, Nail Salons closed.
16. Justice & Mercy Calendar of events postponed.
17. Daily updates from Governor Wolf.
18. Need a Note to Go to work!!
1. People are having family dinners at home, again.
2. Spending time with family, games, crafts, talking, being together.
3. Learning about each other (we hope this is a positive experience for you).
4. Families are walking together outside.
REFLECT ON YOUR FAMILY
What are some Positive things that have happened this season? Talk about it with your Family.
On a Good note—many churches have adapted to the change. Online platforms are reporting the highest number of people viewing of their services.
There are so many positive things that have come out of “this detour”.
In Philippines 4:8 it says, “Whatsoever, things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report…think on these things”.
DO WE HAVE A NEW NORMAL?
Marsy’s Law—What is it—What does it mean?
How it all began
Marsy was a 21-year-old girl just prior to her graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara in 1983 when she was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend. A few weeks after the Marsy’s funeral the family was at a store and was confronted by Marsy’s murderer. The family was unaware Marsy’s murder had been released on bail.
“If any good can come of something this horrible – the loss of my sister and the losses of other families of crime victims – it is that these violent acts served as a catalyst for change,” Dr. Nicholas said. “Marsy’s Law will provide for a more compassionate justice system for crime victims in California and make that a constitutional guarantee.
-Dr. Henry T. Nicolas III, Marsy Nicolas’ brother, Founder and Chairman of Marsy’s Law
Marsy’s Law in PA
Marsy’s law was a referendum on the ballot in PA in November 2019. The majority of the voters were in favor of Marsy’s law. Just before the election in November, Mary’s Law was challenged by the ACLU and the League of Women Voters. The case went before the PA Supreme Court which stated, “votes cast for the Marsy's Law ballot referendum on victims' rights would not be counted, affirming an order from the state Commonwealth Court”
“Proponents of Marsy’s Law, say it will give victims a greater voice in criminal court proceedings, including providing notice to them for pending court hearings”. According to the ACLU, “Marsy’s Law attempts to “restore balance” to our criminal system by granting victims co-equal rights to the accused. While intended to appeal to our sense of fairness, it dangerously ignores the different purposes each right serve”. Although, Justice & Mercy does not always agree with the ACLU and the League for Women Voters, in this case we Do Not support Marsy’s law. Here are some of the reasons why.
“Marsy's Law creates 15 constitutional rights for crime victims that impact three articles and eight different sections of the state constitution. By bundling many amendments into a single “yes” or “no” proposal, the ballot question denied voters their right to choose which provisions of Marsy’s Law, if any, to adopt. Voters will instead be forced to make an all-or-nothing choice on the proposed constitutional changes”, according to sources from the ACLU.
We at Justice & Mercy believe in accordance of the way Marsy’s Law was written on the ballot that it impinges on the rights of both the victim and the accused. Dr. Tom Zeager, President of Justice & Mercy’s opinion is that the court can convict the accused without the accused testimony. Therefore, Justice & Mercy is opposed to Marsy’s law as it currently stands.
**for more information check out the following:
Temporary Program to Reprieve Sentences of Incarceration
In an attempt to mitigate vulnerable inmates for protection against COVID 19 Governor Wolf has signed an emergent order on April 10, 2020 for release of about 1,800 state prisoners. Vulnerable inmates include those over 65, those with chronic medical conditions, such as, severe obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, liver disease, that would make them at higher risk for complications of COVID 19 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Reentry of prisoners will take a combined effort to provide housing, behavioral health system, treatments programs in the community, food, medication supply, transportation, and complete medical screening to ensure they are not releasing prisoners that are sick. Because of these challenges the reentry of prisoners will be less than the 1800 amount that is eligible.
According to Sec. Wetzel, “While on temporary reprieve, individuals will be monitored similarly to parolees and will be supervised by parole agents. Upon expiration of the order, individuals would be returned to prison to complete any remaining portion of their sentences”.
Justice & Mercy believes that if the prisoners are able to be released and continue to do well, following the guidelines of their release, then these prisoners should not be put back in prison for the remainder of their sentence.
**Something to think about--What is your opinion on this order?