Radio Station: WFRE 106.1
Host Jack Meriweather: Phil Kliger
Jack Meriweather: That was For The Moment by Jarrett Osborne. I’m Jack Meriweather, and you’re listening to WFRE 106.1. Just as I promised before the break, we’re in studio with special guest North To Port. Thanks for stopping by Barbara and Matt!
B: Thanks for having us!
M: Hi Jack!
J: Let’s see, you guys are in town for a show at Worth Street tonight. Am I right about that?
B: That’s right. Show starts at 8 PM.
J: Now this isn’t just an ordinary show is it.
J: Not that any of your shows are ordinary.
M: Ha! Thanks – no, tonight we’re participating in a fundraiser for an awesome organization called The Innocence Project.
J: Cool, what’s that all about?
B: The Innocence Project is basically a group of lawyers…
J: Uh oh…
B: I know! Normally you hear group of lawyers and right off the bat, you just run away.
J: Like, there’s no need to find out anymore than that.
M: Yeah, they travel in herds, litigating their way from town to town, and everyone that gets in their way. Shoot, I’ve just been subpoenaed.
B: But that’s not what this is at all, it’s good I promise.
J: Sure, go on and tell us what it’s all about.
B: The Innocence Project is a group of lawyers like I said, and they are dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted and imprisoned people.
M: And they do it by using modern testing techniques, like DNA testing. Then they help reform the criminal justice system through the courts to try prevent future wrongful imprisonment.
J: That sounds very helpful – very un-lawyer like.
B: See? They can use their superpowers for good!
J: Their silver tongues of exoneration.
M: Yeah, in all seriousness though, it’s definitely a force for good. They helped free I don’t know, hundreds of wrongfully imprisoned people. Some of them locked away for decades.
B: I can’t imagine being locked up for years for a crime I didn’t commit. How do you even make it?
J: I’m not sure I could.
M: Yeah, me neither. And many of these people were imprisoned before DNA testing was even understood, never mind widely used in the justice system.
J: Do you know when DNA testing began?
B: Well I think the first case in the US to use DNA was in 1986, so about 30 years ago. But, you know, of course it took awhile for it to be common.
J: You sure know a lot about this stuff!
B: True! There are plenty of causes to support, but I think I can speak for Matt on this too…
M: Please do…
B: This one holds particular significance for us.
J: Why, do you know someone….
M: Well, in general, if you think about it, we only have one life to live and it’s pretty short. The thought of any innocent person getting their freedom taken away for any length of time is terribly sad. It’s just unjust is the best word I can think of.
J: No doubt, but it just seems you guys are particularly passionate about it.
M: There is a personal connection, you’re right Jack.
J: Seemed like that might be the case.
M: Yeah, so Jack, the first woman I ever loved, Abrielle, she had a bit of a troubled upbringing. Umm. She came from a good home and everything, but just rebelled, she was a bit anti-establishment, nothing too out of the ordinary though.
J: Sounds pretty normal teenage girl.
M: I think so for the most part. But she would do things she knew her parents would not be pleased over, on purpose. And she’d do the same with me, do things that she thought would make me disappointed, not sure that’s the right word…concerned maybe?
B: She’d make you concerned for her well being.
J: What would she do?
M: Um, Things like smoking, or drinking a little or something. I wasn’t into any of that stuff, and before we met she got kicked out of school for using drugs, so because of her history, when I noticed self-sabotaging behavior, you know, I was concerned.
J: Most caring people would be. She was your girlfriend.
M: But the thing is, she would do it, and then get caught on purpose.
M: Yes. It’s like she wanted to feel guilty, and basically she’d put herself in a situation where she would be punished. Be it from her parents, or me disapproving.
B: She had a lot of guilt.
M: Yeah, it’s crazy how most people are raised guilty.
B: They are.
M: And not to tangent too far, but guilt is such a wasted emotion.
J: I don’t know…Don’t you think it helps to keep people from doing the wrong thing?
M: Not at all! Guilt is completely unproductive. To feel guilt, you have to believe in the idea that you are bad. And on some level, if you think you are bad, it’s paralyzing.
B: Right, if you are a bad person, to your core, it would take so much effort to change, and maybe you can’t even change. I mean, how do you change your principle make up?
J: I don’t know.
M: It might not be possible. So if you actually believe you’re a bad person, which is what the feeling of guilt gives you, what’s the point in trying to change, this is just who you are.
J: I see.
M: Because It makes you focus on who you are, you’re not focusing on the actual problem.
J: What’s the actual problem?
M: Your actions are the problem.
J: Oh, I see.
B: And that’s where remorse comes in.
J: Isn’t it the same?
B: Not at all.
M: Remorse is a productive feeling. Remorse denotes that I’ve done something that’s hurt someone, and it’s something that I know goes against my values.
B: And Because it targets an action or behavior, you can change those things, and it doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person.
M: It’s like say we had history, you and me Jack, and we hadn’t seen each other in awhile. But the last time we talked you we’re kind of a tool bag.
J: That’s not too far of a stretch honestly.
M: And now, every once in awhile when we run into each other, like say in a coffee shop for instance, you can’t deal and you just leave, hoping I haven’t seen you. You’re feeling guilt. But what you should try to feel is remorse.
J: I get it. Guilt makes the situation just stalemate. Like I’m paralyzed from doing anything about it.
B: Yes, but if you felt remorse, you might take the necessary steps to resolve the situation.
J: Cool. Sooo Abrielle felt a lot of guilt
M: She did. And it was crappy. At the time, I was pretty young, I didn’t get all this, but as I’ve processed this, I see vividly how destructive guilt was for her.
J: I believe it. What happened with her?
M: Well one night, we were together, and she was completely ignoring me. She would do this. She would do something she knew I wouldn’t be happy with and then she wouldn’t talk to me. It was very strange. Out of the blue. Like Hey, how’s it going? Then crickets. No response.
J: What did she do?
M: This was I think she smoked a cigarette. Not a criminal offense, but she knew I wouldn’t like it. So she wasn’t talking to me, which lead to a fight. And mind you, I didn’t know what was happening, I was concerned that she wasn’t talking to me, that I had done something to piss her off.
B: You didn’t find out until later…
M: Right. I found out later she wasn’t talking to me because she smoked and, whatever… So, the tragedy is, we fought and we were out at a restaurant and I just left her there.
J: You left…
M: I had picked her up, so I was driving and I just got ticked off. I just put some cash down on the table and left. Took my car and went home. So she was stranded.
J: Perhaps an over-reaction, but not a terrible one.
M: No, but I regret it because then AHBL.
J: What’s that?
B: All Hell Broke Loose.
J: What happened?
B: It’s still a bit fuzzy, right?
M: Well, Abrielle says she called an old friend, Summer was her name. Now Summer was part of her group of old friends that she used to party with, when she got kicked out of school. And she doesn’t remember much more about that night.
J: She doesn’t?
M: No. I think Abrielle just wanted to let off some steam, and kind of maybe get back at me a bit by doing something she knew I wouldn’t approve of.
B: Well that’s a great cycle to be in….
M: So they did some drugs. Later on we found out she had Cocaine, some pot, maybe some other things in her blood stream. Definitely too much alcohol too. So, she blacked out. And the cops found her passed out in Summer’s car.
J: Man, that’s scary.
M: Yes, but what’s worse is that night, the crew she was with decided to rob a drug store.
J: You’re kidding!
M: No, I wish I were. It was closed, and they broke in, but there was a cleaning person there, and one of them had a gun.
J: Oh no.
M: Yeah. The street value of prescription drugs is huge. I mean, prescription drugs, it’s basically a monopoly, so black market drugs can fetch a lot of money. The whole thing is terrible.
J: Was Abrielle there?
M: I don’t think so. The problem was there was blood in the car, and blood on her, but she has no recollection of any of this. And I can’t believe there’s any way, even under the influence that she would take part in such a thing. But she was young and scared, and they threatened to charge her with murder.
J: Didn’t her friends come to the rescue and tell the police she wasn’t with them?
M: No, these people sucked and basically threatened her family if she talked.
B: So she took a plea.
M: She took a plea which gave her 10 years. You know, in retrospect, I would have recommended she fight it, but we were young and when you’re threatened with life imprisonment, it’s hard not to take the deal.
J: Did you guys stay in touch?
M: For awhile, but you know, life moves on. And to be honest I have some guilt around that night.
B: You didn’t do anything wrong…
M: Yeah, but I shouldn’t have left her. But since I can’t change that, what I can do is try to help awesome organizations like The Innocence Project get innocent people out of jail. I’m just grateful my parter here Barbara is hip to helping out too!
B: Of course!
J: Yeah, Barbara you seem very supportive about the whole thing.
B: Well Matt’s my people. And his people are my people.
M: Oh, thanks! You’re the best.
J: The Innocence Project sounds like a great cause, and something you’re very passionate about.
M: It is.
J: I’m sure it’s gonna be an awesome show tonight. Thanks a lot for stopping by and chatting.
M: Thank you Jack!
B: Thanks Jack!
J: Now here’s I Don’t Want To Give Up On You by North To Port on WFRE.
~Matt and Barbee
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