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Straight time

"Straight time" Continued...

Issue: "On the road again," May 9, 2009

In February, Hing levied a sentence of 30 days and Hoye reported to the Santa Rita jail a month later. After the newspaper-reading inmate touted the Tribune article to the other prisoners-many of them inner-city drug dealers whose highest aspiration was to stay out of prison, they clamored to know why a man would choose jail over freedom. From that moment on, Hoye found himself in constant demand.

"I would be holding court with about 30 guys, explaining why I did what I did," he said. "I explained what an abortion actually does, that it takes an innocent human life. We held prayer vigils, we had Bible studies. I must have counseled and mentored guys all day and all night. It got to the point where we started talking seriously about Christ."

Most of the men in the cage at first mouthed pro-choice slogans, Hoye said. "But when I forced them to complete the sentence, 'I believe that a woman has a right to choose to kill an innocent life,' they couldn't do it."

One morning at about 2:30 a.m., a good-looking young man named Terrell approached Hoye's bunk and asked what actually goes on during an abortion. Using his fingers to simulate a woman's legs spreading, Hoye showed Terrell how the abortionist inserts a vacuum aspirator and sucks out the developing child.

Terrell, 18, told Hoye he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and that she had aborted. "She made the decision," he said. "It was her choice."

"Yes, I know that, but what did you do?" Hoye replied. "Did you offer to marry her?"

Terrell shook his head. "No, I didn't."

"Did you offer to help her raise the child?"

"No, I didn't."

"Did you tell her that you love her and that you were going to go the distance with her as a man should, even if she decided to give the child up for adoption?"

"No, no, I didn't," Terrell said, his eyes filling with tears. "I never knew. No one ever told me what an abortion is. No one ever made it plain."

When Terrell understood that he had, "perhaps because of his own lack of participation, been complicit in the murder of his own child, it really broke him," Hoye said.

Before Terrell went back to his own bunk that night, Hoye prayed with him. "I told him God could forgive him, that what he'd done wasn't an unforgivable sin."

But the conversation didn't end then. Terrell continued to visit with Hoye. "He began to understand that men have a responsibility to women, and vowed that, for him, an abortion would never happen again. He came to me a young man in jail for dealing drugs, trying to make some money and live the large life. I began to see him grow up."

Released from jail on April 7, Hoye rejoined his wife, Lori, in their Oakland home. Today, he is not sorry for his choice. "I've been a jail chaplain in jail before, and even had the privilege of being a guest preacher at San Quentin. Being an inmate is completely different. I was actually one of them and it gave me a different kind of credibility. I'm sure my adversary meant my incarceration for evil, but God used it for good."

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