No Law Against Mercy:

Jailed for Sheltering a Child From the State

By Barbara Lyn Lapp and Rachel Lapp

Have you ever wondered where our modern day heroes are, people who will stand firmly on God’s principles in the face of an immoral government bureaucracy and court system? The Lapp family along with several supporters and friends shined a large spotlight on Child Protective Services’ (CPS) abuse of family rights, over-zealous social workers and lawless police officers. What they discovered in their search for justice were corrupt judges and a court system that ignored the Supreme Law of the Land – The Constitution and Bill of Rights.

This book was written in a journal format alternating between the two sisters’ recounting of events. The middle of the book is filled with pictures of the people involved and clips from video footage taken at the "crime" scenes. This book was so engaging I felt like I was right there experiencing these two women’s harrowing trials in a corrupt court and then incarcerated for eight months.

This true story begins in Spring 1993 when 15 year old Billy Stefan was confined to a boy’s home in Bradford, Pennsylvania – his fourth institutional placement since CPS forced him to leave his father’s home a year earlier. Billy’s father, Donald Stefan had been charged with child abuse, leading to his son’s removal from his home. Stefan said the charges were false, and the result of a vindictive ex-wife. Billy was begging to come home so Stefan helped his son escape the boy’s home. He called on Barbara Lyn Lapp, a childrens’ rights advocate, to shelter Billy temporarily at her family’s farmhouse. Within four months, six people were in jail.

Many excerpts from this book are priceless. When Rachel and Barbara refuse to take off their clothes in exchange for donning the jail garb, they are deprived of taking a shower or using the phone until they decide to comply and wear the jailbird’s uniform.

Rachel tells the correction’s officer, Louise, "It’s not right that we are being kept here."

"This is my job!" Louise said angrily. "You’re trying to deprive me of my livelihood!"

"Louise, is money more important than integrity?" Rachel asked.

Louise moaned. She went out, and came back with four male officers. "They’re making things hard for me," she complained to the officers.

A kindly, older officer came into our cell, to the table where I [Barbara] was writing. "I understand what you’re standing for," he said. "I’ve heard about your case—and I’m almost on your side. But I think this is going a little too far." He talked for a long time urging me to cooperate. I listened, but did not answer. As he spoke to me, Rachel stood by our bunk bed, explaining our position to two young officers.

"We’ve been through his whole thing before!" Louise fumed. "They have no respect for me, or anyone here! They’re trying to put my job in jeopardy!"

"We’re not here to argue the case with you," an officer told Rachel. "We’re under orders and only doing our job."

"Do you follow all the orders you’re given even if they’re not good orders?" Rachel asked them.

"Yes, we don’t make that judgment."

"If you are given the order to shoot me, would you follow that order?"


"You see, you have to draw the line somewhere." Rachel also told them about Billy. "Would you refuse a child help? I really think you would have done the same thing."

"You’re probably right," one of the officers said. (From page 83.)

Four months after their arrest Barbara Lyn Lapp, Rachel Lapp, Jacob Lapp (their father) and Joe Torres (a supporter) are sentenced to a year in the county jail for obstruction of justice. A rumor circulates in the jail that a county court judge is ready to let any of them out if they would appeal the sentence. A discussion between Carole, a corrections officer, and Barbara ensues in which Carole attempts to entice Barbara and Rachel to do what it takes to get released from jail.

"Your daughter –you need to get home with your family," she said, a frown drawing deep lines across her forehead. She said she thinks if the two of us would take the lead in "doing something," Dad and Joe would follow. "How does your mom feel about this?" Carole asked. "And Nancy—and the poor children? Isn’t it your responsibility to end this?"

After a while I [Rachel] joined in the discussion. "People like you make the mistake of thinking that being in jail is loss of freedom," I said. "I’ll tell you what real loss of freedom is. It’s when you come to the point where you are afraid to say what you believe, and live it."

This book is quite literally one of the most insightful, moving and inspirational books I have ever read. The flyer promoting this book sums up its power in a few short lines:

No Law Against Mercy presents a stark portrait of the human cost when legal powers clash with personal beliefs of right and wrong. It raises profound questions as to how we are to hold such powers accountable to common sense and mercy. It shatters the pretext that these questions belong only in our courts and legislative chambers, and propels the ancient cry for justice straight to the individual soul.

Mercy may be illegal in the eyes of the soulless state, but mercy is God’s law. This marvelous book and the women whose experiences humbly fill its pages are beautiful. If your life-in-the-21st-century batteries need to be recharged; if your heart is aching for something to rekindle your faith in the human spirit, this book will be good for you.

About the authors:

Barbara Lyn Lapp and Rachel Lapp work and reside on their three-generation family farm in Cassadaga, New York. Barbara Lyn is herdsperson for the family’s sixty-cow dairy herd, which is nationally accredited for production and genetics. She is also a free-lance writer, and editor of the newsletter, Family Alert. Rachel is manager of Lapp’s Produce, the farm’s fresh fruit and vegetable market, and raises purebred Australian Shepherds and Norwegian Elkhounds. The Lapp sisters were home-school educated by their older sister, Lydia Lapp.

$20 – 428 pages hardcover book includes 40 photographs

No Law Against Mercy: Jailed for Sheltering a Child from the Sate