Meanwhile, back in prison, Lenora kept rounding up good recommendations from the prison guards, and had me coming to visit monthly for updates and new information (a 90 minute round trip). I told her not to be optimistic – few pardons are granted. She was on the next Pardons Hearings list when the Legislature passed The Sentencing Guidelines Law which included a provision that all currently sentenced inmates could request re-sentencing under the New Guidelines! I quickly looked up the recommended sentence for a first time kidnapper – and called Lenora – only 30 months! She had a good chance of getting out as soon as I could put the paperwork together. Which is what happened. She was excited as all get-out as her release date approached – calling me every day to make sure nothing had gone wrong. On the day before her release she called and asked if I would come pick her up. That thought had never occurred to me. I assumed she had friends on the outside. “Of course not,” I said, “I’ve got law work I have to do.”
“Well at least come join me for a drink after you’re done working,” she said. “Okay,” I said, and we made plans to meet at the Corral Bar on Lake Street not far from my office. When I got there she was the only one in a booth passed-out. Turns out they really do hand you a $100 bill as walking money and wish you good luck. That’s it. No plans for a job, a place to live, or any kind of a reunification with the community. It had never occurred to me that I needed to ask Lenora what her plans were once I got her out. My job was to get her out – and that would be the end of my knowing Lenora. Maybe I should have known better remembering she had no real family left. I perked her up, found out she had spent the entire $100 on booze for bar patrons who had abandoned her after the money was gone, and loaded her into my car. Every so often I pulled over so she could barf again. She was finally sober enough for me to ask where she was going to stay that night. “I have nowhere to stay – can I stay at your place?” she asked. Again, this was totally unexpected, I never thought this would be part of my being her lawyer. Well, what was I going to do? “Okay,” I said.
When we got to my place I made some soup and fixed the couch for me to sleep on. “You’ve got to be kidding,” she said, “I did hard time! Get in bed with me!” Well, what’s a guy going to do? The next morning I called one of the prison guards who had written such a glowing recommendation for her pardon, and, fortunately, that guard quickly saw the whole picture, had quite a heart and a spare bedroom for Lenora until she found her own place.
Lenora kept calling me every so often and I’m very happy to report she soon met a really nice guy and started a new family – I even got invited to her son’s Sixth Grade Graduation. All part of being a good lawyer.