The following is a variety of stories which have been brought about by the work of our Matthew 25 project. Each case is handled individually and we receive a variety of requests from help ranging from broken glasses to medical malpractice and the need for legal representation. These needs are responded to by Ken Reidenbach, a consultant for Justice & Mercy, who visits inmates every day at Lancaster County Prison. No names have been used to protect inmate confidentiality.
In December 2016 it was brought to our attention that a female inmate had slipped and fell on a wet floor on the 2-5 block in November 2016. When she was seen by a member of the medical team, she was given an icepack and told that she would need an x-ray. This matter was brought to us because no x-rays were ever given. She reported being in a great deal of pain and that and was concerned and confused about why she had not been scheduled for an x-ray, let alone been seen by a doctor. Ken followed up on this by speaking with the warden which initiated the x-ray to take place. The results concluded that she did have a fracture and an appointment with an outside orthopedic physician was then required.
In July 2016 a young man contacted Justice & Mercy who was facing despair and desperation. Like many people incarcerated in our county jail, he was confused and felt like he was given little to no resources or answers to his impeding criminal charges and hope for a different life. He contacted Ken to let him know that he had recently attempted suicide within his cell at Lancaster County Prison and really just needed someone to talk to. He had been told that his release date was in July. However, he was incorrectly informed and he had a November release date instead. Ken was able to gather all of the sentencing and commitment order paperwork and attempt to piece together the reasons for this discrepancy. This gentleman was very thankful for Justice & Mercy intervening because there was no one else that was able to provide him an explanation as to why he was provided incorrect release dates. He was very grateful for this care and concern that was available to him in this time of despair and was successfully released in November 2016.
Another common problem that inmates in county jail face is their representation by the Public Defender’s office. A gentleman reached out to Justice & Mercy’s Matthew 25 project because he had problems with the effectiveness of his public defender to communicate with him. He had questions arising from his time served in other facilities and how they were being credited towards his sentence. He was left, unanswered, for months while no one answered his request for help. Our consultant was able to provide this inmate with his options in pursuing other counsel and also help understanding his legal situation at hand. We were able to make a referral to an attorney that we trust and they were able to help this gentleman get the justice that he deserves. Not only were Ken and the attorney able to find problems with his release date but there were also other discrepancies that were found on his dockets as well. Not only does this serve the individual but this is an example of how money is being saved to tax payers by not holding inmates beyond their release date. Great job, Ken!
Few of us know what it is like to have all day every day to wonder if people have forgotten about us. Most requests from inmates fall on deaf ears and so the only hope that maybe somebody is listening comes in the form of paper requests that are received by the hundreds to the different departments that you can address the requests to. A female inmate that Ken visited had been sentenced to work release and had sent correspondence numerous times to the work release department about her transfer to that block so that she could continue work with the employment she had prior to incarceration. When Ken contacted the work release department they said they were not receiving the requests that she had filled out and they had been trying to contact her as well. Unfortunately, Ken’s intervention is what was needed to initiate a visit from the work release department to the block to visit this inmate and fix the miscommunication. Its efforts like this that are connecting the inmates with the resources they so direly need to establish themselves for successful reentry to the community upon their release.
If Justice & Mercy has helped you, we would love to hear from you and listen to your story! Please contact us to speak with a member of our team.
These are just a few stories portraying the need of visitors inside Lancaster County Prison and all county and state prisons throughout Pennsylvania. They describe some of the requests that may seem meaningless to us but are more important that we can imagine because it demonstrates that we care. If you are interested in visiting with inmates, we can help you become prepared to do so. Visit our volunteer opportunities to find out how can get involved!