This Judge Officiated The Wedding Of A Former Drug User He Once Sentenced
He called the bride "one of the strongest human beings I have ever met."
It’s not everyday that a judge gets asked to preside over a wedding. But for Jennifer Jensen, it was important that Judge Chris Wilton play a role in her big day, especially since he’d had such an impact on her life.
It was Judge Wilton who first sentenced Jensen to jail for heroin use while she was eight months pregnant. That was three years ago, and because of Wilton, a lot has changed for Jensen since then.
“I didn’t know Jennifer from any of the participants I had on my calendar that day,” Wilton told ABC News. “What I remember distinctly were two things, first that she was obviously pregnant and, second, that she was clearly using.”
The 24-year-old bride told KARE11 that she struggled with addiction from age 12 and has been abusing OxyContin, a prescription painkiller, since she was 16.
After sentencing her to jail time, Wilton and Jensen actually saw each other in court again just one week later. He arranged for her to have her baby in a hospital and then seek treatment instead of going to jail. It was a new and innovative two-year intensive program that required her to address her drug addiction instead of simply sitting behind bars. In 2016, Jensen was successfully discharged from probation.
And if you ask Jensen, she owes a lot to the judge.
— Yahoo (@Yahoo) November 5, 2017
“Because of him I am alive today,” she told ABC News. “He was a part of what made me who I am today. He makes me want to do more and actually believe that I can do it.”
That’s precisely why she asked him a very important question after being discharged from probation. ““I was wondering if you could marry me and my fiancé?,” she asked the judge, according to 13WAMZ.
The judge was more than up to the task. “It caught me by surprise, I’ll tell you that,” Wilton said to ABC News. “My hope was that she would stay sober and that this would all happen for her.”
“If you would have told me back then when she was 8 months pregnant using heroin that this is where I would be four years later, I might have put some money on it and bet against it, but she is a fighter, she is successful,” the judge told 13WMAZ.
In the ceremony, the judge told the bride, “Jennifer, you are one of the strongest human beings I have ever met.”
The bride and groom, who is also in recovery, have started the first Heroin Anonymous group in Minnesota. We’re hugely impressed by her commitment to recovery and how she has turned her life around with the help of someone in the justice system who cared for her wellbeing.
This story originally appeared on Simplemost.