When a person goes to jail, it’s not just that person who suffers. Often, a family is left without a parent, or without a wage-earner. Bills pile up, and the family is thrown into chaos.
As a death penalty mitigation specialist for the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, Sr. Kathy Broussard knows that better than almost anyone. When she received a Sisters on the Front Line grant from The Leadership Collaborative and Catholic Extension, through the generosity of the GHR Foundation, she knew who to help. (Please note that we cannot use real names due to privacy issues.)
Jane is a middle-aged woman in Shreveport, Louisiana. She receives $700 dollars a month in disability; her son used to help her pay her bills, but he is now facing the death penalty. Jane took a side job, but when her employer died, she lost that extra income. She has since developed pneumonia and is on oxygen. While Sr. Kathy and her team work to help Jane’s son avoid the death penalty, they can see she is suffering as well.
When Sr. Kathy called her to tell her that, thanks to the #SistersontheFrontLine grant, she would be able to help, Jane started to cry. She had given up hope that she would be able to pay her electricity bill and had turned it over to God. Sr. Kathy felt blessed to be a part of the solution, saying “I am happy that I could be God’s hand in answering her prayers.”
Susan’s husband is facing the death penalty. Susan and her husband have been together for 19 years; their three children are all in school. She was injured in a car accident and lost her job during the pandemic. Her husband was laid off due to the pandemic before he went to jail.
Susan has been trying to get a job while rehabbing from her injury, but there are few jobs available and no one wants to hire a person who is injured.
For a woman with three children who needs to get back to work, transportation is necessary. Sr. Kathy was able to pay her back car insurance bill and her water bill.
Sr. Kathy explains, “Our justice system claims that people are innocent until proven guilty, but most people seem to believe that you wouldn’t have been arrested if you hadn’t done something wrong. They consider our clients sub-human and believe that they and their families are not worthy of assistance, even though many have mental health issues, and all are indigent.
“It’s hard enough to see your loved one facing the death penalty – these families should not have to worry about their next meal or their safety.
“I am grateful to The Leadership Collaborative and Catholic Extension for helping me bring hope and love to these women and children.”