Success Stories
Phillip Emmert

Tony Leys wrote an excellent article in the DesMoines Register on January 19, 2009 about Phillip Emmert. Here are some excerpts from the article: Phillip Emmert spent 14 years in federal prison for selling methamphetamine to support a drug habit. He would still be locked up if former President Bush hadn't taken the rare step of commuting his sentence in December, 2006. Thousands of prisoners had asked Bush for mercy, but Emmert was just the third to receive it. He never learned why.

By all accounts, Emmert turned his life around in prison. He kicked his addictions, became deeply religious, took job training and volunteered at a hospice for inmates. He would like Bush to know that his commutation paid off.

The former inmate has stayed out of trouble since being released. He has cared for his wife, Dixie, who was paralyzed in a car accident while he was serving time. He has been active in his church, including leading a weekly Bible study session. And he used the job training he received in prison to land a solid position maintaining air-handling systems at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Iowa City. His supervisor, Richard Lindenbusch, said Emmert won the promotion because of his in-depth knowledge of complicated, computerized heating and cooling systems. "He came to the VA knowing more than most mechanics I've run across. I'm just glad we got him," Lindenbusch said. "You'd have to fight me for him now."

Lindenbusch said he believes Emmert's contention that there are many other prisoners who never committed a violent crime and who have changed their ways to the point where they could be freed safely with some supervision. "Is society better off with that kind of talent locked up? I don't know. I don't think so," the supervisor said.


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