Comments about ‘Ask Angela: My sister's fiance has a criminal record and I'm not OK with it’

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 5 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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bountifulmomofsix
BOUNTIFUL, UT

You gave some pretty good advice! Hopefully he truly is a good person trying to do even better.

Gracie
Boise, ID

From personal experience and the standpoint of many years of trying to sort out the resultant horrors and generally unresolvable difficulties in being married to someone with a past like this, I would advise the fiancee to be absolutely sure she knows that the Lord sanctions her decision. It may be that the marriage is more for his benefit than for hers, on a spiritual level. The marriage may or may not work out. If it doesn't, she'll need all the definite assurances that the Lord blessed her willingness to try to make it work anyway.

Free Agency
Salt Lake City, UT

At first I thought, it's the engaged woman's decision and her sister should just be supportive.

But then I thought, if the man is part of the family, he'll get invited into everyone's home. And what if he was in jail for stealing or drugs?--or worse, something violent?

So if I were the sister, I'd say, "Fine, keep his crime to yourself. But don't expect the rest of us to have him in our homes or around our children until we know more about him. We're not judging him, but we need to feel safe around him."

There's a great old movie (you can see it for free on youtube) called "I'll Be Seeing You," in which Ginger Rogers plays a woman on furlough from prison for the holidays. Nobody will tell her younger cousin what the crime was, so the younger cousin (with whom Ginger shares a room) suspects something pretty bad.

Turns out the older woman's crime wasn't a crime at all (at least not to me). But until we know the facts, we do tend to suspect the worst.

DrGroovey
Salt Lake City, UT

I understand the feelings behind some of the ideas expressed here. However, maybe it would be better to not judge when there is no information with which to judge. It is easy to find out (from the public record)if the man has a violent history, molested children, of has done something else really awful that might create a safety concern for members of the family. Short of that, I think someone once instructed us to judge not and to forgive everyone.

Quiet Dave
Hereford, , AZ

I work with a prison ministry. Some of these men are really ready for a second chance: many have gotten in as a result of addictions and with a little help, can pick up and resume a normal life. It may be a can of worms, but probably a necessary can to open for the comfort and well-being of the rest of the family to know if the crime he served for was violent or sexual, rather than something more like things getting out of control (one thing leading to another, until a serious line was crossed). Have patience and counsel with prayer. Another big marker to look for: has he a temple recommend? There is a key to a reformed man.

Gracie
Boise, ID

To Dr. Groovey: "I think someone once instructed us to judge not and to forgive everyone."

LDS scriptures say we're to judge *righteous* judgement which is a process of evaluating a situation with understanding and the Spirit of the Lord. There's no lack of forgiveness in this when done in that manner. While forgiveness is a commandment, we do no one any favors--especially ourselves and our families--if we refuse to make evaluations of whether a person's behavior is a positive or a negative influence in our lives. Life's meant to learn lessons, especially about what's safe and what is not.

griffinkay
MIDVALE, UT

I have a good friend who has been in prison for four years for accidentally killing a man while driving drunk. He has been a model prisoner and there is not a day that goes by that he doesn't wish his foolish actions hadn't taken the life of another person. He has worked hard to change his life and has been sober for five years now. He is a good man who made some really stupid choices in his past; choices he deeply regrets, but that he has seemingly learned from.

Our is not to judge. Some people make really terrible mistakes and learn from them. Others don't. Hopefully this woman's sister's fiance is of the former ilk.

Free Agency
Salt Lake City, UT

@ Dr. Groovey

We all judge--we have to--because it's the only way we can make decisions. The question is, do we judge with love (and intelligence) in our hearts or do we judge via prejudices?

You say the sister shouldn't judge before all the facts are known. But the sister has asked for the facts. It's the engaged woman who's withholding them.

I absolutely would *not* do a public record search behind the backs of the engaged couple. To me, that's snooping. Either the couple agrees to, themselves, present the facts to me, or they experience the consequences: my not having them in my home or around my children until the couples does give me the facts. (I wouldn't keep this between me and my sister: I'd ask the man too.)

The public record search behind his back would demean the man. Telling him the truth about my feelings to his face would honor him.

Little Andy
Tremonton, UT

The way the system is run you can get a criminal record pretty simply. You can be completly innocent but slammed for a innocent mistake. As long as the couple involved can agree of a clean slate from now on go for it. If we wait for all our relatives to agree not much would ever happen..

Lander
Bonduel, WI

You've also neglected to take the Atonement into consideration. You don't know this young man's personal life or situation. There is every good chance in the world that he has repented and been forgiven for his mistakes. If this is the case, the Lord remembers them no more. We have been counseled several times that we are not to make people keep paying for the mistakes of their past. It is the Saviour's right to judge, not ours. If this young man has made himself right with the Lord, then who are any of us to keep him from progressing and being a better person? Good for the sister for being able to see not just who he was, but who he can be. The miracle of forgiveness is available to all of us, even those with a criminal record.

ladybuglover
MONITOR, WA

We've personally experienced this with everyone hiding the facts. I finally did do a public records search and am glad i did. If someone thinks it's going behind their back so be it. I was ticked to find out my niece's son was a sex offender of little girls and we were thrown together at family gatherings where my five little granddaughters would be! How can you make wise choices if you don't have the facts. Elder oakes talked about judging...you wouldn't allow someone to take care of your finances if you knew they had a problem with embezzelment. My relative can't be around his own child, so why should those of us with young children not know this?!

semi thinker
Provo, UT

I need to agree with ladybuglover. I had a similar experience finding out a sex offender was marrying into the family. This was kept from me for nearly a year and I only found these details through a public search record.

I must admit I don't think anything has made me more angry in my life than this information being held from me. It wasn't the fact that these two were choosing to be married. As adults they can decide whatever they want. But it was the fact that my young children were placed in a very dangerous position including being alone with this offender!! I was very upset that grandparents, aunts and my spouse thought this information best kept a secret.

I have chosen to be civil and welcoming to these family members and feel I go to great lengths to show that, however I will never let my young children be alone with them. Ironically, I am the "bad person" in the family for failing to "completely forgive".

I think the sibling may find the best solution is a heart to heart talk with their sister.

AskAngela
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

I'm trying to think how my family would deal with this...realistically, I would want to know every single detail about every single thing, but if my sister refused to tell me, I wouldn't want to put an ultimatum in place that could hurt our relationship...you know what I mean? Plus the sister I'm thinking of (I have 5!) I would trust to tell us if it was something that we needed to know in order to protect ourselves or our individual families.

bellsandbells
FULTON, MO

Fpr a mumber of years I was a member of a Citizens Criminal Justice Committee which followed things that were happening in the judicial system, prison, legislation dealing with crimes, etc. "Sister to Jail House", please don't be so quick to assume the worse. Some criminals are the worst of the worst and others are caught up in a very flawed system that seeks to score a conviction based on untruth and non-fact. Get to know your future relative. Perhaps someday he will feel confident enough in his new family to share information that will help you accept him. Things are not always the way they seem....and sometimes things are worse than they seem. Here comes the importance of prayer and listening to the spirit. Being the friend of a conficted person is like being the friend of a leper. You have to be a strong person to stand by someone who has been rejected by the world. Give your sister credit for that.

Scott12345
Salt Lake City, UT

I agree with lots here - DrGroovey, Quiet Dave, and others. I have daughters, and until my sister and her fiancee told me more facts, I would choose to keep my wife and kids away from him. I would still talk to him, be friendly, love him, etc. I just wouldn't bring my kids and family near him until I felt safe.

I know a sex offender, who's a nice guy who made a really dumb mistake as a high school teacher, with a female high school student. He's served his debt to society via prison time, and acknowledges his idiotic mistake. His wife and family stuck with him - talk about true love. My youngest daughter is friends with his youngest daughter, and when they play, it's always over at our house, and his wife (NOT him) drives their daughter over and picks her up. Period.

Best case - describe your position face-to-face with the fiance, and see if he shares info with you. (And I'd double-check the public record to make sure - my family's safety is first.)

And love him as a person.

Patrick Henry
West Jordan, UT

People make mistakes. If we as a society cannot accept former criminals as reformed and allow them back into regular society, then we will essentially push them back into their poor habits and choices.

Proceed with caution, but embrace with love and acceptance.

Serenity
Manti, UT

It's fine and well to fall in love with an ex prison inmate. But it is a hard choice to make because of the repercussions from society. True, it is all about love at first, but when hard reality sets in, life will present a different picture. When family and relatives will consider the fact that he was in prison as old history, and when they no longer have to defend each other against friends and family, will that unity they feel now last? Or will she start remembering his past and watching for him to make another mistake? Or when he applies for jobs, how will that affect his job applications? Or after they have children, what will the children say, or tell other children about their dad, who was in prison? To me, this is a hard choice, and I seriously doubt that I would get in such a situation. But, to each his own and everyone makes their own choices. Good luck to them. They will need it.

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