To The Daily Sun,
On June 14, in the early morning, the town of New Hampton, along with many surrounding towns, lost a hero. Douglas A. Clement, who was buried June 21, gave second chances to easily thousands of people through his 20-year service as a firefighter/EMT. I know this to be true because I personally watched him work 24-hour shifts, away from his family, no matter the occasion. He missed birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings and many other family events due to his work. His life had purpose, something many people try to find in life. Even though he spent more time at work than home, his family never held it against him, although depressing and frustrating at times; they took pride in that time they gave up with him. They did so because the time they gave up meant someone else could possible have more time with their family.
Now, he leaves a 10-year-old son to become a man by himself; a 12-year-old daughter who won't have a father to walk her down the aisle; a 22-year-old daughter who never gets to see her dad hold her newborn son; and me, a 19-year-old son who never got to say goodbye to his dad. I sit in the Belknap County House of Corrections for something my dad knew me to be innocent of doing.
I had many issues with my dad but I loved him more than anyone knew. I was in the New Hampton Fire Department's Explorer Program for roughly three years and was tied to the department for many years before and after that. From that, I also knew personally many of the police officers. Yet, because it was seen as inconvenient to be released on personal recognizance for a short time, to say goodbye to my dad, I will never have that chance.
Like my dad, I took pride in trying to help people, mostly through emotional times, despite my own problems. Yet, despite that, my clear record, no hard dug or alcohol use, "evidence" that doesn't add up and myself being the only one was injured in a crimeless misunderstanding, I still sit in jail in lieu of a bail amount higher than repeat convicts with drug problems get. My dad knew I was innocent and was being done an injustice.
My family instilled in me at a young age to help, not hurt people, and to respect authority. I have made some mistakes in my life but putting the people my dad gave almost half his life to save at risk was never one of those mistakes.
They call this place a corrections facility. Although I committed no crime, losing my dad, missing my nephew's birth, not being able to be there for my family sucks. I have been here has taught me a lot — mainly that I never want to come back and that from my experience here I want to prevent my friends/family who risk the chance of finding their way in here. Like every son, I want to make my dad proud of me, to be with my family, working, and bettering myself and others. I write this so the public can see that I have been wronged, in hope of being given the chance to show the court and people that I don't belong here. . . . to prove that I am not a danger to anyone and will do anything to just be with my sisters, brothers and my nephew.
My dad taught me that innocent people don't run around and hide and to man-up to the things you are guilty of. I always have done this this and won't stop now. As a last resort, I ask my fellow people to support my case so I can follow my dad's final wishes for my future. I don't just ask for my sake but for my family's. My family has given up and lost so much for the better of the community we call home.