Northwest Herald | Imprisoned hearts: Families of those serving time are crime’s forgotten victimsPosted: March 5, 2012
Kassie Kennedy remembers the first time she visited her fiancé, Jason Gedzyk, at the Taylorville Correctional Center.
She made the 250-mile drive down to the minimum security prison in Taylorville, with Gedzyk’s mother, Judy, of Crystal Lake.
It was a busy day at the prison, so the pair had to park far away from the visitors’ entrance and run through a full-on central Illinois summer downpour to reach the doors.
At that time, in September 2008, the two had very limited knowledge of what it would take to actually get inside to see Jason, but they hadn’t laid eyes on him since the day he was sentenced.
About six weeks earlier, a McHenry County Circuit Court judge sentenced the then 27-year-old to six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on an aggravated driving under the influence conviction.
The accident was covered by local media outlets, and the story of the victim and his family was told.
What was not covered was the story of what happened to Gedzyk’s family after the gavel hit the sounding block.
The sadness, guilt, depression and shame felt by Gedzyk’s mother, sister and fiancée.
The hundreds of dollars a month that would be required by the family from then on to maintain ties with Jason and support him while he was away.
The stigmatization that comes with being related to someone who is incarcerated.
The day Jason Gedzyk was sentenced, in many ways, his family was sentenced, too. And they, like the hundreds of other innocent people living in McHenry County who have a loved one in prison, pay for the crimes of those loved ones, in some way or another, every single day.
During January and February, the Northwest Herald spent time interviewing two Department of Corrections inmates who once called McHenry County home, and several families who have a loved one who is behind bars.
On Aug. 13, 2006, Gedzyk drove home from a going-away party his friends had thrown him at a local bar. He had earned a job as a bartender on a cruise ship and was due to leave the next day.