Tuesday 25 May 2010


There was a man, James Bain, who was recently released from prison after 35 years for wrongful imprisonment. I love the euphemism for that one. ‘Wrongful imprisonment.’ Ummm, how about “outrageously hideous imprisonment.” Or “I was totally and utterly screwed and raped of my entire life imprisonment.” You know, something with a bit more truthful pizzazz to it. Sorry, but I think it’s the least they could do.

Anyway, last December a judge overturned Bain’s 1974 rape conviction after DNA testing proved he did not commit the crime. The most astounding part, which is hard to even identify which bit that is as he has spent more than half his life behind bars for a crime he did not commit, is that he is beaming with happiness. And I’m not just talking about joy at being released from prison. There appears to be no bitterness in sight. In fact, he seems downright giddy at all the things that lay in front of him that he wants to partake in: getting his driver’s license, going back to school, driving across country on his motorcycle. Okay, fine, I get the excitement at the opportunities that lay ahead of him, I really do, but no bitterness?? Not even a one-finger salute at the guards when he walked out? He said it was the little things that he missed the most, ‘an orange or grapefruit tree.’ The little things?! How about the one big glaring thing called freedom?! That’s for starters what I would miss. This man is far too good for this earth.

Seriously, I am in utter awe and admiration, simply because I fear that I would be so steeped in bitterness my head would explode. Mr. Bain goes onto say that he feels like he is entering a society that is in a much better place, specifically as there is now a black man in the White House. If this man isn’t a beacon of positivity, I’m not sure who is. I’d be focusing on the fact that this wonderful society of ours is the one that at the time of his crime, clearly put color before the facts in the case and locked him away.

He knows what he lost, [mainly his entire youth!] but he says that all the support that people gave him over the years filled him with such hope and love, he was able to survive. Here’s the thing, for starters, I’m claustrophobic to the point of amusement (to others, not me); jail for me would be a living hell on earth. In fact, I used to have jail dreams when I was little. I know I know, a psychiatrist would have a field day with that one. I used to dream I accidentally committed a crime, or was falsely accused and I was sent away to some hardcore prison to be locked up forever. Don’t ASK. For me, the mere thought of never stepping outside the prison walls, of being told what to do, eat, what time to sleep, well, I would’ve buckled under that system after a day. I even went so far within these dreams as to have my sisters sneak in poison of some sort in you know, a bran muffin, or cake (or my top meal of choice, but of course) so I could officially check out! I know, cowardly, but I can accept my weaknesses.

Furthermore, how do you justify to yourself when something like this happens? “Life sucks…for me especially! Life is not fair?” You certainly can’t cling to the old adage that everything happens for a reason, cause honestly, there is no reason on earth that could explain a turn of events like incarceration for life. That is where you lose me on the whole metaphysical argument. I read an interview once with Keanu Reeves after they asked him about his sister’s leukemia, and the loss of his first and only child, and he said, ‘Everything does not happen for a reason. It just happens.’ I have to say, in this case, I couldn’t agree more, the man is freaking’ Yoda.

Perhaps for James Bain, $1.75 million (the amount he is said to be receiving) will ease the pain a bit. But if it were me, I’d invoice the bastards for a hell of a lot more than that. So James, I am using your story for good – (don’t even try telling me the reason for his incarceration is the inspiration of others!) and the next time I feel like playing the martyr, or I utter the words ‘but life is so unfair’ I will literally contemplate chewing my tongue off in your honor.

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