Not only did Bill Ebarb forgive the man who shot his brother, but he wants to see him released from prison.
I heard Ebarb's story Wednesday at a program for National Crime Victims Week at David Wade Correctional Center, and it's one of those that forces you to think. His journey wasn't an easy one, but still, would I have the courage to do that if it were my brother?
We spoke after the presentation and he said something I always love to hear - "you probably won't print this." Then he continued saying he wishes the pardon board would consider the changes in a man when they look at commuting a sentence. The man who killed his brother has shown great remorse and become a solid Christian man, Ebarb said. But all the pardon application asks for is a prison record and the basic details of the crime and initial sentence.
"I think a lot of guys shouldn't spend the rest of their life here," Ebarb said.
Pretty amazing turnaround from a guy who planned to kill his brother's killer. But I have to admit, I sometimes wonder the same thing when I've visited David Wade for various stories. I've had the pleasure of meeting the men who have changed their lives and attitudes, usually through religion of some kind. One man in particular, Henry Alford exemplifies the rehabilitation that I think is one goal of the prison system.
He's in for life and has served 40 years between Angola and David Wade. He even escaped from Angola, but somewhere he found God. He knows he did a terrible thing.
Although he can't correct what he did, he has devoted his time in prison to other people. Now, he's almost serene in his approach to prison life. He regularly works with the younger men trying to set them straight so they don't come back to prison once released. He is president of the Lifer's Association which has raised money for various charities on the "outside."
"I ask God to bless them, and I ask God to bless my soul," he said. "It's hard knowing you've torn someone's life apart."