Joe Serna’s probation sentence after a DUI conviction came with one condition: weekly urine tests. When he broke the rules, he saw the wrath of the law … and the mercy within.
Serna served in the U.S. military years before, traveling to Afghanistan for three tours in a row. There, he was witness to a horrific accident and the only one to escape alive. After the trauma, Serna came back to the U.S. with a terrible case of PTSD. He couldn’t get the images out of head and spiraled towards the bottle to numb the pain.
Deciding Serna’s fate after he’d lied about a urine test was none other than Judge Lou Olivera. Even though he’d heard of the man’s severe anxiety and PTSD symptoms, the judge still needed justice served. Upon the bang of the gravel, Serna was sentenced to 24 hours in the country jail and became immediately petrified.
Walking into the gray square of room that was his cell for the night, Serna felt the pressure rising. His heart was beating, his palms sweating -he was going into shock! The cramped space in the jail was reminding him of the terrible past he wanted desperately to forget. Then, something amazing happened.
“(Olivera) comes in, they close the door and lock it,” Serna said, “and this was a one-man cell so we sat on the bunk and I said ‘you are here for the entire time with me?’ he said, ‘yeah that’s what I am doing.’ ”
The man had volunteered to stay with Serna during the length of his sentence, in full inmate uniform. Judge Olivera reminded the army veteran he wasn’t alone, that while people can’t comprehend the physical pain, they can comfort through the mental torture.
“We are not expecting them to trust us overnight, but it’s a relationship that is built,” Olivera said.
See the beautiful, heartfelt, and patriotic moment in the clip below!