A Difficult Gift to Give and to Receive

April 24, 2019, 12:46 pm Saturday night in our Restorative Justice club meeting we discussed forgiveness. This illusive concept incites deeply held feelings from those of us who long so desperately for our victims and victims’ families to

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How to Be Part of the Thirty-Three

National studies have shown that the average recidivism rates (re-offense rates) for citizens returning from prison is sixty-seven percent.That’s an alarmingly high number and clear evidence that the industrial prison complex’s methods of rehabilitation do not work. If

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Best-Laid Plans or Pipe Dreams?

Several months ago, a young man who had left prison from our unit on parole returned to prison again. When he went home, he had little to return to, and the allure of his drug addiction pulled him

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Proven Innocent

February 26, 2019, 2:39 pm In the ’90s and throughout the 2000s, television schedules exploded with new police and criminal justice shows. Law and Order (and its many offshoots), NYPD Blues, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, Cops, and dozens

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Definition of “Juvenile” Gets a New Look by the Courts

Who hasn’t done something stupid as a child, only to regret it later? I think it’s pretty safe to say that nearly everyone has at least one story of a regretful decision born of the immaturity of youth.

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Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave!

Perhaps you have heard the colloquialism, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to deceive.” It may be a pithy saying, but it has teeth in prison. Some prison relationships are built on

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Separating Children from Their Parents is Not a New Phenomenon

Recently, news stories have dominated the media regarding the tragic separation of children from their parents who entered the United States illegally. I would guess that most people, regardless of political affiliation, find these stories heartbreaking and feel

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Learning How to Relax in a Muddle of Noise

“Ticket-free field house!” the unit officer called out over the loudspeaker. I stepped into the hallway, joining the crowd streaming from the dayroom and bathroom where they had congregated, anticipating the call. We merged into a tentatively shuffling

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Forgiveness is Hard, But is it Ever Deserved?

Forgiveness is hard. Shoot, it’s hard enough when the offense is personal but no lasting harm has been done. I think it’s just human nature to find forgiveness difficult. First, we want the offender to be sorry, but

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Terror in an Imagined Nightmare

This past week, a friend of mine was told he had a visitor at the prison to see him. He hadn’t been expecting a visit because he knew the loved ones that normally visited him were not able

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Building New Communities, One “Hello” at a Time

January 28, 2019, 2:41 am In the hallway where I live in prison, most of the cells are occupied by other prisoners who are also in the same college program I am in. A few others who are

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Listen Up! It Will Change Your Life

February 19, 2019, 1:22 am Lately, I’ve been digging a lot into the relevance of stories. I have interest because I desire that my story will have meaning, and that the stories of those I’ve harmed will also

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A Father’s day Hope Becomes a Birthday Promise

On June 24, 2001 I received my very first Father’s Day card. I wasn’t yet a father, but I was engaged to marry someone who had two children, so I was soon going to be a father. I

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Should We Seek Healing or Closure?

When someone has been victimized by crime, we often hear how important a trial and conviction are to provide closure for the victim, or the victim’s family if the victim died. This trite word, closure, treats what has

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For These I Toll the Bell

November 1st was All Saints Day, and for the first time since I’ve been in prison our Protestant service celebrated the holiday. During the service, a time was set aside for congregants to come forward and name the

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A Story of Extraordinary Strength and Grace

Practicing restorative justice is hard. When someone hurts us or harms us in any way, the natural human response is anger, and often revenge. It doesn’t surprise me to hear parents who have just lost a child to

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Will Corrections Officers Ever Support Rehabilitating Prisoners?

I can’t imagine; it must be easy being a corrections officer. I mean, the job itself looks pretty easy most of the time–lots of sitting around, making regular rounds, writing tickets from time to time–really glorified babysitting. But

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Prison–A Petri Dish of Prejudice

A year ago this week, hatred and bigotry made its mark on history in Charlottesville, Virginia. At a white nationalist rally, Heather Heyer was in the crowd decrying the vile rhetoric of the white nationalists and was murdered

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Where Does Justice Begin?

What is justice? This is a difficult, perhaps impossible, question for which there is no satisfying answer. For thousands of years, philosophers and theologians (and others) have been trying to define what justice is. Ancient Mesopotamian laws attempted

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How to Turn Hardship into Triumph

You’ve probably heard the cliche, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Well, this saying is a cliche for a reason. The fact is that there are more than two possible outcomes when you face hardships in your

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