September 9, 2005

Positivity: From Crack Dealer to Chaplain

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 1:29 am

From the Madison, WI Capital Times (click “more” for body of post):

From crack dealer to chaplain, local woman turns life around
By Mike Miller
September 7, 2005

Just over a decade ago, the Madison community looked with scorn on Deborah Westbury as she was handed a 20-year prison term for dealing crack cocaine out of the day care center she operated on the east side.

But according to an outpouring of letters to the court, Westbury, now Deborah Mejchar, conquered her drug problems as well as her prison term and made such a huge turnaround in her life that her parole was cut short and her probation was ended Tuesday, which may mean she can now take a job as a chaplain in the very prison system that held her for some 6 years.

And some of her biggest supporters are a couple of people who were well-known members of the Madison Police Department that saw to it that she was locked up.

Back in 1995, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Callaway sentenced her to 20 years in prison to be followed by eight years of probation and ordered her to pay more than $4,000 in fines and court costs after a jury convicted her of operating the crack house out of her day care center.

Mejchar, 51, who took that name when she was married this past February, served 78 months in prison before being paroled and was doing so well on parole that she received an early discharge in April.

…… She is now in line to take a job as chaplain at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution, where she has been doing volunteer work as the chaplain.

…… Among her staunch supporters are former Madison Police Chief David Couper, now pastor at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church near Portage.

“I deeply believe Deb deserves this and that she has made a huge and permanent change in her life,” Couper wrote to the judge. “Deb is a changed woman and a credit to both our correctional system and her faith.”

Former Madison Police Capt. Cheri Maples, now an administrator with the Department of Corrections, said Mejchar “has shown herself to be an asset to the community in a variety of ways since leaving the institution.”

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