July 2017 Letter

(Excerpt from a letter)

Greetings Brother,

Happy Independence Day. As a veteran I salute you and want to thank you for your service in defending this country and the ideals that it stands for on this day of commemoration of the birth of our nation. I pray that people would take seriously the words of our founding fathers when they said, “with liberty and justice for all.”

Thank you for your letter. I am sorry to hear that they sent you someplace without the programming you need. Hate to think they they’ll move you again. I’ve come to the conclusion that the MDOC is like Michigan weather- wait 10 minutes and it will change: personnel, policy, proceedure, direction, purpose, intension, and goals. It’s always too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet, or too windy. It just can’t seem to satisfy anyone and all we do is talk about it.

I’m sitting here on my patio looking at the flowers I have planted, listening to the birds singing, feeling the sunshine on my face and not a soul in sight. Just me and my thoughts. I pray it won’t be much longer and you’ll have an experience like this for yourself. Till then use your imagination to hear the wind chimes and leaves rustling, the smell of grass and flowers, and the view unmarred by fences.

I recently celebrated my 53rd birthday. I went out to lunch with my parents and brother to an Asian fusion resturant. You might say that I’m living the new normal for my life. It’s not my old life and not certainly one I could have expected but it has love, peace and blessings in abundance.

“I do not think that all who chose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum cannot be put right; but only by going back till you find the error and working afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develope’ into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit.”

C.S. Lewis

This is from the preface to The Great Divorce. Lewis was writing about Heaven and Hell and how we should live on earth. I cannot help but notice that it is a perfect picture of what prison rehabilitation should be. It addresses the importance of not condemning individuals out of hand. It confronts the fallacy that longer prison sentences are a deterent to future crime. It speaks to the need for counseling, education, personal reflection, and recognition of the need for change.

A keen observer of the human condition, Lewis understood the concepts of God’s grace, forgiveness, and healing. His writings spoke to a world torn apart by war 70 years ago, and are yet relavent today. His works are found in libraries and bookstores and should be on your reading list.

We must all take responsibility for our own reformation. No one can reform you, you must want it for yourself. Lewis’ writings provide cogent arguments for why you should want this. It is up to society then to insure that the MDOC provides the right atmosphere in which reform can take place. Society should want this because it is in the best interest of everyone to ensure the safety and security of all its members, including ‘the least of these’ represented by those convicted of crimes against the society. Without this compassionate concern on the part of society, its elected representatives, and those entrusted with the care and management of the inmates, what hope have we of changing ourselves and being given credit for the change if this is not the case.

I pray for you regularly. I pray for your health and safety, that the time goes quickly, and for grace and favor with the parole board.

Your Brother in Christ.

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