Yearning to break free


This man wants to “help you break free.” For several inmates in Mississippi and Alabama, that’s been a do-it-yourself project.

One of the worst local TV commercials in heavy rotation – it’s too difficult to narrow them down to just one, which is a blog post for another day – is for a criminal defense lawyer who cares deeply about helping you beat the rap if you ever find yourself on the wrong side of the law in northeast Mississippi.

Even when you consider the sleaziness that’s to be expected from ambulance chasers, this ad takes the genre to a new, sub-basement level. Kerry M. Bryson, of the Bryson Law Firm right here in Tupelo, is so committed to helping you avoid the ignominy and perpetual unemployability wrought by a criminal record (or as he puts it, good people who find themselves in “unfortunate situations”) that he winds down his 30-second pitch by declaring that he wants to “help you break free.” He stands just outside the perimeter fence of what appears to be the Lee County Jail, brandishing a bolt cutter for added subtlety.

In the nearly six months I’ve spent in the Magnolia State, I’ve seen numerous examples of individuals here and in neighboring Alabama whose desire for freedom was so strong that by sheer force of will and the desperation of those with nothing left to lose, they achieved it without Mr. Bryson’s help, if only temporarily. Jail breaks, most commonly from county facilities or local lockups, are a staple of local news.  Continue reading