adult friends

Dan and Paul cr

One of the greatest burdens in this work is learning about or meeting so many dysfunctional parents. I find it difficult to imagine what it must have been like for their children to have grown up under their influence or control. I am in full understanding with what I have heard several people say: “Some parents deserve to die”—though I do not condone murder.

So it is such an unusual pleasure to meet parents who are people I admire. It fills me with hope to have met a few adults with whom I have become friends—some of them close—because I have been willing to help them bear their burden of trouble with the System at a time that they have most needed a compassionate ear.

Chris Brown is one such friend. He is a more-than-decent guy, a loving and dedicated father to his son Jordan, an innocent who is wrongly accused by an unfair and corrupt System that has gotten it terribly wrong. Chris and I are different people with little in common outside a dedication to getting honest justice for his son. So I mainly hear from him when he needs my assistance.

But in the case of Paul Henry Gingerich’s father Paul, the bonds are much more personal. We have much in common and I hear from him all the time. In the course of working together for his son, we have become close friends. He is supportive of my vision and helps me in ways that do not directly benefit Paul Henry.

Knowing Paul has taught me a great deal. He has taught me to respect the System when parts of it truly care about justice and the welfare of young people. From the beginning I have been impressed with Paul’s acceptance that Paul Henry did a very stupid thing in assisting Colt Lundy in the murder of Philip Danner, and that the System has a legitimate responsibility to create appropriate consequences for his son. I have agreed from the start with Paul’s sense of justice.

But 25 years in adult prison for a 12-year-old who was incapable of forming adult thoughts?

I shared Paul’s belief that this punishment was disproportional, unjust, and unreasonable for a civilized society. I shared Paul’s deep appreciation for the unwillingness of IDOC’s Mike Dempsey to carry out this sentence and for Mike’s courage in defying the judge’s order for the first time in Indiana history.

As a result of our actions, it appears likely that Paul Henry will escape confinement when he reaches his 18th birthday. His involvement with the System will continue after that time, but I have no doubt that with his father’s influence Paul Henry will succeed in redeeming his life and staying out of any future entanglements with the law.

As a result of my friendship with his father, I am confident that I will finally meet Paul Henry after his release and that I will be fortunate to play a continuing part in his life.

Tonight on the Lifetime Movie Network, “Murder in Enchanted Hills” will be shown at 9:00 pm eastern time. This film by British filmmaker Zara Hayes was filmed nearly two years ago and has not been presented before in the US because it was thought that the public sensation it would cause—a reaction proved in overseas markets—would make the Indiana prosecution and judiciary more difficult to deal with.

Now that Paul Henry’s case has been finalized and more favorably resolved, public reaction can only affirm that the outcome is closer to a just resolution.


Groove of the Day

Listen to George Jones & Kathy Mattea performing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”


10 Responses to “adult friends”

  1. May 26, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Being a few years over 37 (12 + 25), I can physically feel the horror of the idea of having spent all my life in a prison. I don’t think one could still be human after that. But, I would add, it’s not simply the length of the punishment. It is also the conditions and circumstances of being in a prison. Looking at other mammals, it is clear they develop properly by beeing with their families and friends. I do believe that is necessary for our complex brains to gain all the skills. If one is deprived of such a fundamental “ingredient” at the age of 12… Add to that strict (and quite insane) rules and systematic brainwashing, but having no one to talk to. It’s not just about time.

    I will be very happy if Paul Henry can soon once again go home and.. feel life. And I do hope he’ll be able and allowed to be a normal young man (and still a teenager). Making friends, having fun and going through life without having to look over his shoulder and think twice about everything he does or says. It’s time to stop looking back and start looking forward. Life is difficult enough as it is.

  2. May 26, 2014 at 7:59 am

    With a father inculcating him such moral values, I don’t wonder more of Paul Henry attitude, his corage by facing to his fate. I was always surprised by the fact that this young man doesn’t revolt against the iniquity of the judgment against him. If I have often wondered if his attitude was due to the resignation face to something that he could not change, I am convinced now that this attitude is due to the true moral values instilled by his parents. And this reinforces my feelings of sympathy for this young person. He’s totally different from so many youths who reject their faults on the society, who search to elude to their responsibilities and to the punishment of their offenses. He seems to be really on the right path to reintegrate into society and be a honest, law-abide and responsible person. And that’s why I hope sincerely that he will be released just after he turns 18, to built a good and nice live with the help of his family and friends, despite all the closed doors he will encounter. It is a chance he really deserve.
    I also hope that the documentary ‘Murder in Enchanted Hills’ will enable many people in Indiana to change their point of wiew about Paul Henry in particular and, more generally, about young people in trouble. It would be a good thing for its future if people looks at Paul Henry and other youth with a more lenient regard.
    Another thought about Paul Henry : Time of exams is probably near, so I wish Him all the success possible for his Honour Diploma.

    • May 26, 2014 at 9:11 am

      One thing sort of bothers me. You say the true moral values which drive Paul Henry to face and accept his fate, were instilled by his parents. And yet, you talk harshly about other kids and young people for not being like Paul Henry? But wouldn’t it mean their parents have not instilled the same values? Thus, we can’t be harsh on children themselves for behaving the way they do. They are simply too young and immature to realize some things by themselves. I think the entire system, the society and the parents are misguiding and mistreating the children to (and beyond) the point of abuse. But when those children do something wrong, they are the only ones responsible and the only ones going to prison.

      I wish for all the children to be given the same chance and be taken far away from any abuse. As for Paul Henry, he was in the very wrong place at the very wrong time. I do wish him all the best and hope some day I’ll be able to help him. If it means anything to him, I would trust him with my own life.

      • May 26, 2014 at 11:18 am

        Sorry if I have offended you, Cane. It was not my intention and I wish not seem as harsh toward other juveniles. Please, replace the term “youths” by the term “people”, it will be nearer from my thought. It is something that I have often experienced: many people (and not only youths) find it easier to try to escape their responsibilities if they have committed anything wrong by claiming “it is the fault of someone else” than accept their responsibilities. But “many” doesn’t signify “all”. And if some parents didn’t succeed to instill such values to their childrens, this will not signifies they didn’t try to do it.

      • May 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm

        hansip90 no, please don’t get me wrong. My point was simply that kids are not fully responsible for their actions and most of them are not able to realize, understand and teach themselves, regardless of parents. And can’t be judged for that. I do believe most parents do not intend to do wrong, but are simply unaware of the responsibility and how their personal feelings and actions reflect on a child and make a child’s brain interpret them in perhaps strange ways. For example, I do believe Paul Henry was very troubled by things happening at home at the time (doh). Perhaps more troubled then his parents realized. And it’s quite possible some of those troubles and his personal feelings were that last drop that led him to join Colt that tragic day. He might have had a fight with his father, or his parents might’ve had a fight. Or he could’ve even overheard some neighbour or a relative or an unknown woman in a butcher’s shop saying “it was all” his father’s fault. I don’t think even Paul Henry can be sure.

        Even as adults, we tend to accept as true any gossip or a piece of information with no proof or taken completely out of context, just if it goes along with some theory/view/wish of our own. How many Americans believed Muslims were responsible for 9/11 just because FBI said an Arabic ID was found? A child is so much more susceptible to that. And its reactions far more extreme. Both Colt and Paul Henry knew what they were doing was wrong, no doubt about it. But something had turned their “safeties” off that day. It could’ve been something that happened a day before, but also something that was building up for weeks or months. And just imagine what it’s like for kids whose parents are never home, are always drunk or high, beat them up, etc?

        This is not to accuse Paul Henry’s parents of anything. This is just to point out how delicate kids and their minds are and how much everyone they come in contact with influence them and shares the responsibility for their actions. And how important it would be to have society take real interest in the well being and proper development of our children. Because, THEY are paying the price for our mistakes and negligence.

        P.S. I believe that if parents fail to instill a good and just system of values upon their children, it’s always parents’ fault. They have failed, not the kids. That’s why I believe that even kids who try to run away from responsibility can not be blamed. (I expect them to!) So, basically, we are to blame for every kid in jail.

        So sorry for another “essay”. 🙂

      • 6 Bob H
        May 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        The essays are good contributions. I can believe that there are some intrinsically bad kids, but the number is probably quite small and is probably linked to a pathological condition. The rest have not been given appropriate and sustained help. I met with the principal of an 800 pupil school on Friday, to confirm arrangements for a kid I support to start there for 8th grade. She said that she has few problems with the kids – the problems are all with the adults, even sometimes the teachers! She will not allow teachers in her school to give an F grade until they can explain what they have done to try various techniques to avoid an F. And a D is not a way of avoiding the F – their grades are ABCF. She’s not being unrealistic, she is challenging the teachers to do the right thing.

        I also saw recently some metrics on “days schooling lost to disciplinary reasons”. Notably, only one school district counted days lost due to expulsions as well as suspensions. That made their figures apparently far worse, but it reflects a realistic understanding that every day a kid in their school district is not in school, their “clients” are not getting education (of the type we want them to have).

        In the case of Colt and Paul Henry, it is a tragedy that each of them did what they did. But Paul Henry was not the only boy that went along with Colt, and that tends to indicate to me that a persuasive older kid was leading them astray in a perverted plan. It takes a very strong kid to refuse to go along with what they know is wrong when pressured and scared. If that was not the case, there would be no bullying, let alone serious crimes done by kids. It is heartbreaking that Paul Henry used the second gun, even if reportedly neither of the shots he fired would have been fatal. I don’t think he is equally to blame, and I reject the notion that all involved in a crime should have the same punishment. And the phrase “do the crime, do the time” is a pathetic simplification.

      • May 29, 2014 at 9:02 am

        When a 12yo follows a 15yo in a bad decision, it is reasonable to believe there was some sort of bullying, or persuasiveness. But in a small town, with not a lot of other kids, young boys may go along simply for not wanting to lose a friend. Even a bad one. And it sounds great to hang out with a 15yo. Stil, what makes me think family issues could’ve played a more important role in Paul Henry’s choice is the fact that he did plan to run away from home with the two boys. And they did do it. Stable family is what helps you go through bullying and to fight it. It doesn’t push you away. And even if Paul Henry was a saint, I don’t think he would’ve done it just to be there for Colt. I think he wanted to leave. Probably just for a day or two, but he did want to get away. Was it for a real reason or something he didn’t understand is not important. The point is he is the least to blame for making that choice of assisting Colt.

        As for Colt, I feel pretty much the same. If he was bullying a 12yo boy and anyone else, the parents should be the first to notice and deal with it. I really don’t know of kids whose parents were involved with his/her life and have been there for him and he still became a bully.

        Finally, why I don’t believe Paul Henry’s choice was based on bullying – there was the third boy (Chase) who also joined them in the running away part. If you are being bullied, you would be even more afraid to say no for something as big as a murder. And surely, you would run away from him. But obviously, Chase was not afraid Colt would do anything to him and was even perfectly ok to join them in running away from home. And no one said Colt even smacked him for refusing to take a gun. Not your typical bully story.

        I have never seen or met any of the boys and it’s highly unlikely I ever will. But when it comes to what they did, I think even I am more to blame than themselves. They were just kids. And that was their crime.

  3. 8 Bob H
    May 26, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Dan, the parricides on whose behalf you work have a strong and realistic champion. Those whose families have rejected your offer of assistance have been betrayed by ill will or fear of what might be spoken.

    Books I have sent to Paul were usually are about kids who have a strong moral compass in adversity, but there are too few. One of the strongest examples is an old book called “White Clam”, set in the Pacific North West, about a 14 year old who is captured and enslaved by a coastal Native American tribe. By his attitude, intelligence and willingness to work within the tribe, he builds admiration among his captors, though they are not about to let him go. I think the analogy to Paul Henry is strong – from what I hear, Paul Henry has applied himself to working hard, building his knowledge and keeping out of trouble. I think that IDOC and Pendleton deserve praise for facilitating that.

    I send books to a local juvenile detention center – their school librarian maintains a list of ones that she thinks suitable or which the kids have requested. She told me that some are resistant to reading and do so only out of boredom rather than the joy of dipping into another world. However, the kids are amused when she tells them they have been educating themselves each time they read a book.

    I started sending books to the local JDC only a could of months ago, but have sent 60 so far. It does not cost much if you look on Amazon for used books. I came to the realization that the church my wife and I attended seemed to spend all its receipts mostly on maintaining the church infrastructure and staff, not on outreach. It was then a simple rationalization to divert my contributions to a more practical way of helping.

  4. 9 Michael T
    May 27, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Good to finally see this film.

    Having followed the case reasonably closely, I can’t say that I learned any new facts about the case, but seeing and hearing the people involved speaking on their own terms speaks volumes about their motivations and interests.

    It’s a pity that Robin Danner chose not to participate. She is the common factor that ties a lot of these people together.

  5. 10 Frank Manning
    May 27, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Watched the documentary tonight. The only new angle for me was Colt’s talk about Phil’s drinking. I sympathize with him on his animosity toward mean drunks, having had to deal with a couple of those types in my own life. This may be the motive we’re all trying to discover.

    Listening to the arguments of the prosecutor at the appeal, I can only conclude that some of our law enforcement officials are themselves psychopaths. These psychopath prosecutors and judges represent a clear and present danger to our civilization, and should be terminated with extreme prejudice.

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