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Redemption for Bank Robber

Some people might say that having a face tattoo would make you look like a criminal. But in the case of Tyrone Lamont Allen, it was his tattoos that helped pave the way for his freedom. Allen had previously pleaded guilty to a string of 2018 bank robberies in the Portland area. However, his plea deals with prosecutors came under intense scrutiny once it became clear that police had altered his photo in a police lineup. In order to make his photo match the description of the suspect in the robberies, a police forensic artist used digital image editing tools to paint over several of Allen’s facial tattoos. The police artist likened it to “electronic makeup.”

The outcry over this image manipulation wasn’t enough to convince U.S. District Court judge Marco Hernandez to suppress the photo lineup as evidence. However, Allen had spent the last three years working to rehabilitate his life, working to steer youth away from the same crime and violence that previously ensnared him. Judge Hernandez was impressed by this effort, and by the advocacy coming not only from his attorney, but also from the local prosecutor, US Attorney Natalie Wight.

Wight testified, “This case has the possibility of becoming extraordinary. [Allen] can lead the community and show our community that … the criminal justice system actually recognizes you for your value.

In the end, the judge gave Allen a sentence of time served and three years of supervised release. Hernandez addressed Allen directly, "I believe in redemption. I believe in giving you an opportunity to show your changes are deep and lasting."

Allen said, “I'm here to accept responsibility for my actions. I come from a really hard background and am trying to change." Pointing to supporters in the courtroom, he continued. "People who never gave up on me when I gave up on myself. They pushed me to be a better person. And today, I know I'm a better person."

Possible Preaching Angle:

1) If we take shortcuts in the way we assess someone's guilt or innocence, we might end up dishonoring God and the community surrounding that person. 2) Repentance can lead to a new beginning and support, even from those who were formerly opposed.

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