Rich, white people going to jail? Insert punch-line here.
The issue of white-collar crime and prison is typically presented in the popular culture as a target of comedy and derision, the subject of Hollywood films for generations. But to the Rev. Jeff Grant and his wife, Lynn Springer, it’s hardly a laughing matter.
Grant is a former corporate lawyer who fell into an addiction to painkillers and liquor, and he served 14 months in a federal prison on a business-fraud conviction. He and his wife of six years, Springer, established an organization based in Greenwich helping families coping with incarceration, The Innocent Spouse and Children Project. The couple, Weston residents, is planning various upcoming events, including a panel discussion on the issue of white-collar crime and the impact of incarceration on families that is in the works for later in the spring.
Springer has seen the devastation that can hit a family when a parent or loved one is sent to jail for embezzlement, fraud and other financial crime.
“It’s not an under-served community, it’s not even served at all,” she said. Springer said she has seen wives and children of white-collar prison inmates — with little knowledge of the social-service bureaucracy — struggle to pay for food and heating due to the asset-seizures by law-enforcement agencies that typically follow embezzlement and fraud cases.
“These people are suffering, and no one is advocating for them. In particular, for family members there’s the pain of exclusion, ostracism, a sense of shame,” Springer said.
Those who are sent to prison from the ranks of the upper-middle-class or wealthy, coming from professions in accounting, medicine or law, are also worthy of “compassion and spiritual comfort,” Springer said.
Rehabilitation and redemption are the other goals of the organization. “We feel we are in the business of hope,” Springer said. Grant ministers to a congregation in Bridgeport after earning a divinity degree, and he lectures and writes on the subject of transformation and new beginnings.
Specifics of the panel discussion Springer and Grant are organizing are still being formulated. Springer will be joined by other panel members who know the subject of incarceration inside and out. A screening of a Woody Allen film, “Blue Jasmine,” which centers on a character whose husband is a corporate swindler, is being planned.
One expected guest on the panel to discuss the topic of crime, punishment and redemption is one of the most famous examples of corporate crime in recent years, Dennis Koslowski. The former CEO was convicted in 2005 for stealing nearly $100 million from the Tyco corporation, and he served over six years in jail. Koslowski recently gave an interview to The New York Times about his new life as a free man, after he was allowed to leave “the gated community I used to live in.”
He told the newspaper: “I was piggy…. But I’m not that person anymore.”
The Innocent Spouse and Children Project, and a related organization, The Progressive Prison Project, are based out of Christ Church Greenwich on East Putnam Avenue.
Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
Jim Gabal, Development
Babz Rawls Ivy, Media Contact
We are grateful for donations from individuals, religious groups, charities, foundations and the like. Donations can be made by credit card/PayPal or by sending your check payable to: “Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.” P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883. Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project are missions of Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. We are a CT Religious Corp. with 501c3 status – all donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Thank you for your support and generosity.
If transformation and redemption matter to you, a friend or a family member with a white-collar or nonviolent incarceration issue, please contact us and we will promptly send you an information package by mail, email or via Dropbox. The darkest days of a person’s life can be a time of renewal and hope.