Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Conversation With A Prisoner

Yesterday I visited one of the prisons. At the magazine section, an inmate clerk sat reading his Bible. Another inmate approached holding out the Jet Magazine. The inmate clerk, took the magazine, placed it back on the shelf, returned the inmate's ID, and placed a check mark on his list to indicate the magazine was returned.

I greeted him, asked him about usage of the magazines and books on tapes, then asked him how much longer before he returned to society. He said 1 year,. I asked what he was doing to prepare himself for a successful reentry.

He listed them - drug treatment, anger management, school, parenting sessions, life skills. Then he said, " I have been in and out of jail, several times, high on cocaine. I hurt my mother, who is a Christian woman, and my little brother, who also did drugs, but imagine now is a store Manager for... and sends me money. My baby brother! I am 55 years old, and I know that I am no longer willing to live the life that kept me high on cocaine. Sometimes I made my mother promises, but I was too high to even remember. Now I read my Bible, and I know when I get out there, I will be a changed man."

"You better keep that promise. If you leave here I dont want to see you back." I said. He laughed. "You don't have to worry about that."

I went to another prison. As the inmate saw me, he went for an extremely thick file. telling me he had appealed every condition of his sentence. He says he has been wrongly incarcerated. He showed me news clippings about a policeman who lied saying he plans to use this to bolster his defense. He is convinced he will leave prison in a few months. I asked him what he is doing to prepare himself for a successful reentry. He said he had a corportation. I remembered him from another prison 18 years ago. His story has not changed.


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