- Ernest Richards
Update on April Joy
Updated: Feb 28, 2020
[See "The Journey of April Joy," September, 2019, for reference]
April spent most of January in the Amherst County jail, serving a 30 day sentence for distribution of an illicit drug back in early 2019.
She slept on a mattress on the floor in a single cell, and was only allowed to leave that cell for her one shower per week, or if she had a visitor. She was told she could have up to three visits a week for 15 minutes at a time, but we know for sure that one week she had at least four separate visits, and twice we were turned away and told she had already had her maximum of TWO visits for that week (honestly, it seemed to depend on who was manning the front desk that day).
The visits were in a small, divided room through a glass window, and were closely monitored. There was a phone to talk to the person on the other side of the glass, which was useless to April, of course. There was clearly no provision at all for Deaf inmates, but on one visit, I was allowed to take in a small chalkboard and chalk, after it was inspected and cleared by security (I didn't have enough confidence in my ASL skills. April was amused by my chalkboard).
Thirty days was actually very lenient.
I believe the court did show compassion for April's hard background and did take her deafness into consideration in her sentence. And the fact that this was her first conviction.
I went to court as April's character witness, and the judge was looking right at me when he said the standard sentence for this offence was three years, and the minimum should have been eight months jail-time. His honor said that at least some time must be served, and 30 days was the most lenient sentence he had ever given.
The District Attorney did not cross-examine me at all, though April's lawyer had forewarned me to be ready for them to "come after" me pretty intensely to tear down my testimony.
As of today, February 28, 2020, April has been clean from methamphetamine use for 256 straight days!
The court has granted April's request for visitation for both daughters. Mama has now enjoyed six visits with her older daughter, Nevaeh, who is 13 (pictured below).
She is still waiting for her reunion with Yvonne, who is now 7.
Before these recent visits with Nevaeh, it had been 3 and 1/2 years since she saw
April meets with my wife, Karen, and me about once per week for Bible study. We have just completed watching the video series, "Growing in Grace for the Deaf," and are about to start going through "The Lamb" video by GoodSeed. April is also regularly attending church at Living Word Deaf Church. She is also tutoring us in ASL.
April trusted Christ as her Savior in 2006, and was finally baptized by Pastor John Wyble on November 24, 2019.
Please continue to pray for April as she continues to grow in her faith, and as she looks for a job in the Lynchburg area.