Retired Justice Finney Speaks to Impact of Crime Class

The former Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, the Honorable Ernest A. Finney, was the guest speaker at the Turbeville Correctional Institution's Impact of Crime graduation ceremony on July 11.  Twelve inmates received their certificates for successfully participating in the program, which is designed to make the inmate aware of how criminal actions affect victims, family and the community.

Justice Finney addressed the class with a welcome frankness.  He said, "Those who will tell you life is easy are lying to you.  Life is hard."  Justice Finney explained that upon reentry into society there would be trials, tribulations, temptations and challenges.  He added that there may be those who are not ready to accept them or forgive them for what they had done in the past. Justice Finney told the participants that they must not let the difficulty of life lead them down the wrong path a second time. He suggested that, in the years to come, the participants look back at this class, remember this ceremony and remember what they felt in their hearts on this day to help them through difficult times. "Remember the joy and hope that you feel in your hearts today. Remember the lessons you have learned," said Finney.

Justice Finney also talked about what he considered to be the biggest challenge these young men face. He offered that the greatest challenge was changing from what they were to what they know they can be. "Do whatever you can to make change to better yourself," said Finney. He asked the class to think back to where they were five years ago and what they were like then. He then asked them to look ahead and to think about what they wanted to be like five years from now. Justice Finney concluded his speech by telling the inmates, "Be true to yourself. Make your own decisions, and don’t let anyone turn you around."

Two class participants spoke about the impact this class had on them and their classmates. One inmate, discussing criminal behavior, added that victims "have no choice, but we do. We have the choice of changing our behavior so there are no more victims." Another inmate told a story about how he sold drugs to a mother who used money for her daughter’s school clothes to buy the drugs. The course helped him to see how that impacted the daughter, who eventually dropped out of school. This inmate dedicated himself to helping that young girl when he returns to his community.

Class instructors Gloria Venning and Wendell Robinson participated in the graduation ceremony. Robinson expressed appreciation to the inmate family members in attendance, pointing out how important the family’s support is when the inmate chooses to improve his life and therefore the life of the family. Robinson went on to praise a long list of staff at Turbeville for their continued support and dedication to the Impact of Crime classes.

Warden Ralph Beardsley concluded the ceremony by expressing his support for what the inmates in the Impact of Crime class had done. He acknowledged that the inmates had shown their willingness to make positive changes necessary for a successful life after incarceration.

Former Impact of Crime graduates joined in the ceremony by handing out certificates. The former participants also assisted in various ways during the 48-hour course.