Everyone Loves a Comeback Story–Or Do They?

May 19, 2020, 11:46 am I remember when I was growing up how my dad always used to root for the underdog. He wasn’t a big sports guy, so whenever two teams were playing (football, baseball, etc.), and

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New Crime Threatens Sentence Reforms

November 14, 2019, 1:42 pm Last year nearly 5,000 federal prisoners were released early under the First Step Act, a sentencing reform bill that reduced penalties for some drug convictions and other non-violent crimes. The First Step Act

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Change Springs from a Simple Seed of Hope

July 29, 2019, 5:28 pm During a church service this past weekend, a young man, in his twenties and already serving his second prison sentence, was brought to the front of the auditorium and prayed for by prisoner

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What Does Justice Mean to You?

July 24, 2019, 11:18 pm Abstract nouns are often difficult to define exactly. That’s why they are called “abstract.” Mostly, an abstract noun’s definition is subjective to the person using it. Freedom means one thing to one person

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Does Restorative Justice Let Offenders Off the Hook?

July 17, 2019, 4:48 pm I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine about restorative justice. Although he supports restorative justice, he told me that many of the people close to him, people he loves and

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Startling New Data Shows Rehabilitation Programs Work

March 12, 2020, 12:34 am Many people now agree that our criminal justice system is highly ineffective in achieving at least one of its primary aims: rehabilitation. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report published in

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Does Restorative Justice Let Offenders Off the Hook?

July 8, 2019, 6:41 pm I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine about restorative justice. Although he supports restorative justice, he told me that many of the people close to him, people he loves and

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Strangled Again by the Same Villain

June 26, 2019, 11:46 am Recently, a friend of mine who I met through Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program, locked up. He told the corrections officers that he was afraid for his life, and they put him

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Social Distancing is a Prison Norm

March 23, 2020, 11:51 am Medical personnel and political leaders are calling for social distancing as a response to the Covid-19 virus outbreak. Some local, state, and national leaders have even mandated certain restrictions to incorporate social distancing

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We’re All Doing Level Four Time

April 6, 2020, 11:25 am It’s been a few years now since I’ve been in a level four prison. Generally, to be in a level four, a prisoner must have more than seven years on his sentence (after

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A “Thank You” is Warranted

March 29, 2020, 11:22 pm As a prisoner, I am often critical of the justice and prison systems. Because I am stuck in the middle of these systems, I see the flaws, the injustices that happen daily, the

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How Prison Taught Me Humility

July 1, 2019, 4:22 pm I am not the same person I was ten years ago when I first came to prison. In some ways, I appear to be the same person, but when I look back at

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Second Chance Initiative Aims to Increase Re-Entry Success

June 18, 2019, 10:39 am This past week President Trump announced new federal initiatives to make it easier for returning citizens (also known as former prisoners) to find jobs, housing, and support. His “Second Chance” initiative is a

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That’s Just Money Down the Drain

June 11, 2019, 11:37 am The Michigan Department of Corrections consumes more than $2 billion of Michigan’s annual budget. That’s a lot of money to house around 40,000 prisoners per year. For years now the Michigan legislature has

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How to Cultivate Good Character in Toxic Conditions

June 6, 2019, 12:00 pm I am fortunate this year to be one of the few prisoners at MTU who were given a small garden plot (7′ x 9′) in which to grow vegetables. Gardens are awarded in

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From Former Criminals to Transformative Leaders

May 27, 2019, 1:36 am On Monday, May 20, I had the privilege of receiving my Associate’s degree in Ministry Leadership from Calvin College through the Calvin Prison Initiative. I was one of 19 students to graduate, one

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Listen to Your Mother–She’s Probably Right

May 11, 2019, 11:44 am “Be sure your sins will always find you out!” My mother used to frequently caution my brothers and me with this dire warning as we were growing up. And I hated it every

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Will You Join the Cultural Conversation About Justice?

April 29, 2019, 11:31 am A couple of months ago, I wrote about a new TV show on Fox called “Proven Innocent.” I argued that a show about innocent people in prison was a sign of a culture

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Michigan’s New Eyeglasses Policy Bullies Out the Competition

Several decades ago, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) significantly reduced the use of prisoner labor in factory industry due, at least in part, to manufacturers’ dissatisfaction with the MDOC’s unfair advantage through the use of what amounted

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Average Prison Sentences are 25% Longer than Two Decades Ago

April 16, 2019, 11:37 am According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, the average sentence length for Michigan prisoners is 10.3 years. Two decades ago, the average sentence length was 7.1 years–that’s a 45% increase in average sentence

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