From Criminal to Paralegal
“I just cried and hugged him.” Randall James said, remembering a moment of gratitude with his brother on his wedding day.
Randall James recalls with gratitude the moment his brother helped change his life. “He was afraid for me and the path I was going down.” If it wasn’t for Randall’s brother turning him in to the police, Randall likely wouldn’t be where he is today.
When Randall was 12 he tried marijuana for the first time. While he didn’t enjoy the way it made him feel, he enjoyed being part of what he thought was the “cool” crowd. From there he started drinking alcohol and by the age of 16 he got hooked on harder chemical drugs including ecstasy and cocaine. After High School he quit his job and kept his addiction going by stealing from his family. By the age of 18 Randall was introduced to crack cocaine and started using on a regular basis. He had alienated himself from his friends and family. His addiction was leading him down a life threatening path where he owed money he didn’t have to drug. He was living couch to couch and quickly overstaying his welcome everywhere he went. His addiction led him to be arrested for 5 armed robberies resulting in 20 charges. During his time in jail he recalls speaking to his mother on a daily basis, expressing his remorse and praying daily for God to help him to find his right path.
On May 9th 2003, Randall was released from custody on the condition that he attended addiction treatment at Harvest House. It was within the first few months that he truly began to understand what it meant to be accountable for his actions and his addiction. Randall quickly committed to the Harvest House program. He took part in our Values, Influences and Peers (VIP) Program, where he would go to high schools in the area and speak to students about the consequences of addiction and criminality.
Further to attending Harvest House, Randall also took part in the Collaborative Justice Program offered at the Ottawa Courthouse. This program gave Randall the opportunity to come face to face with many of the people affected by his addiction and the subsequent crimes he had committed. Randall was able to take responsibility for his actions by sharing his story of addiction and expressing remorse for what he had done. He recalls the victims were very forgiving and did not want to see him go to jail because of the progress he had made at Harvest House and the affect he was having on students through the VIP program.
Since the completion of his sentence, Randall has worked full-time at Harvest House in a variety of roles. From managing the call centre to operations manager (overseeing building maintenance) Randall has demonstrated a strong work ethic and commitment to Harvest House. In 2014 Randall went back to school to pursue Paralegal Studies. After earning his diploma he took the next step and obtained his paralegal license through the Law Society of Upper Canada. Randall still takes on many roles at Harvest House, principle among them is his role as a Paralegal, attending court often and counselling young men to be accountable for their actions and face their addiction head on. He works to have troubled men released to Harvest House to get the counselling and addiction rehabilitation they need so that they are able to re-enter the community and live a healthier and more productive life.
Now, more than 16 years since walking through the doors at Harvest House, Randall is married with two daughters. He is a reliable and key member of the Harvest House family. For the men in the program, Randall is a tremendous example of what hard work, accountability and faith can do for you.