Victims' Families Share Tearful Stories With State Inmates - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/21/03

Victims' Families Share Tearful Stories With State Inmates

A crumpled piece of paper is a lot like the family of a crime victim. As hard as people try to smooth things out, the paper -- and the family -- can never be returned to their original condition.

Miranda Tames learned that the hard way. "It does change your life," she told a group of Mississippi inmates. "You look at things differently. You see people differently."

You may remember Tames' four year old daughter. Shelby Lynn Tucker was murdered near Ocean Springs almost four ago, and left in a ditch. "I wanted to stop living my life because she wasn't in it," Tames said as tears filled her eyes.

On Friday, Tames was part of a Victims Impact Panel. Five local families came to Gulfport and let 45 state inmates see and hear how crimes devastate families.

A year ago, Felicia Smith had a bullet go through her leg and stomach. Her daughter was traumatized by the ordeal. Before the meeting, Smith said her life today is a lot different, "because I'm not the same person I was then. I'm always afraid of different things. I'm always looking over my shoulder, watching. It's a scary feeling."

That fear can split apart some families. More than a decade ago June Renfrow learned, it could also make families stronger. "I'm forever changed," the Hattiesburg woman told the inmates. "But it isn't a bad thing. It has made me a stronger, better, very outspoken advocate."

This emotional program reached out to prisoners. When it was over, the inmates stood up and said thank you. They appreciated the message they heard. The families held out their hands and said you're welcome.

by Brad Kessie

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