Hartford City preacher chooses to spend a night in jail instead of paying fine

Ferrell Long studies his bible in his Blackford County home. His 24-hour jail sentence was reconsidered by the judge.

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (WANE) Ferrell Long, 75, is a man of strong convictions, so when he forgot about jury duty last month he was given two options by the judge. He could pay a $50 fine or spend a night in jail. For Long, it was an easy decision.

“I have never had to pay a fine,” Long said. “I have never been in jail for any crime whatsoever. That’s about to change.”

That’s because this Hartford City preacher is about to spend his first night in the slammer.

“I’ve never been in jail before so I don’t know what to expect,” Long said.

Long’s 24-hour sentence stems from missing jury duty last month. Soon after, a judge found him in contempt of the court. Long said there’s a simple explanation, he’d been driving back and forth to Fort Wayne caring for his wife who was sick in the hospital and he simply forgot.

“I was very busy and I got the summons and I laid it down on the table and I just plain forgot it,” Long said.

But he said the judge wasn’t buying it. NewsChannel 15 tried contacting Judge Dean Young Tuesday, but was not able to reach him for a comment. Young did tell Hartford City News-Times that he could not comment on the case. However, speaking with the News-Times a month ago Young said that people don’t “really forget” about jury duty. Long said if he paid the fine he’d be admitting to lying about why he missed jury duty, which he said he did not. Now, he’s heading to the pen.

“They told me I would need nothing. They would give me an outfit and a pair of sandals,” Long said.

They’ll also give him a bible, and this preacher plans on using it behind bars.

“Maybe I could talk to some of the other people out there and tell them why I’m in there and tell them about Jesus also, which is a chance to witness to some people,” Long said.

It’s a lesson Long hopes extends well beyond the confines of his jail cell.

“I hope some of these people will realize it’s no disgrace to go to jail if you’re standing up for what you believe in,” Long said. “Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be afraid to take the consequences. If you believe in something stand up for it and if there is any punishment take it.”

Long will report to the Blackford County jail at noon on Aug. 6. He will be released at noon on Aug. 7.

Long said after he gets out of jail he’ll write a $50 check for charity.

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