Having given my life over to Christ, I seem to have found a new reason for living. While I still cannot fathom the destruction I have caused everyone nor understand how God (or anyone for that matter) could forgive me my transgressions when I repented, I have a sense of relief about things. The meds have fully worn off for sure, and I feel like there now is a purpose to my being in here. It is to make me a better person who will serve the Lord. I do the best job I can at all I do, whether work in the Grievance Department, playing basketball, helping guys write letters, or going to Bible study. “Do it as unto the Lord” I have read and been told, so that is my new mission.
Now having said that, I still am in a state “correctional institution” and want to get out. Arthur tells me the only way to do that is to complete all the requirements for my crime, stay out of trouble, and make my first parole board. The Sex Offender Program, which is required for crimes of my type, is unfortunately not offered at this facility, so I will have to get to one that has it. He suggests writing people inside the institutions or out to get there sooner than later. My first board appearance will be in March of 2009 and it’s already July of ’07, not a lot of time according to him, to get everything accomplished.
So, I write to the facility administrator to request a transfer to a facility that offers a SO Program. He has a secretary write back which basically says “not my job”. So I write people in Albany and have a doctor friend from the outside also pen a letter to them telling them I need to get to a new facility that offers it as soon as possible. I hope that will do the trick as the program is one of the requirements for me to make parole.
As for the staying out of trouble part, so far so good. That’s easy you say? Well, believe it or not, there are people in here who just love to get other people in trouble. Some are lifers so they do not really care what happens to them or others, (read the Upside Down Kingdom) while others just seem to get pleasure out of tripping someone up. That is one good reason not to spread your news around and have other people know your business. There are always guys feigning friendship and I have to learn to guard against offering too much information of any kind to them. Obviously I do not tell them my crime as the counselors and even Arthur has suggested. I have only let a select few know, and then ones I have gotten to know, like Arthur.
I have also shared a bit with Prince, as he likes to be called, one of the guys at work, another guy with L on the end of his bid – signifying life, as in 25 years to life. He shared things with me so I felt safe in reciprocating. We also are working on a program he is trying to get off the ground for inmates called Straight Talk. We work on it in our spare time and even some nights when we return to the grievance office to do so. The Grievance supervisor doesn’t care if we come back at night when she isn’t there as long as we get her work done first. I like the idea of the group Prince is devising and he likes my skills on the typewriter and with words. He is what I would call a functional illiterate, having dropped out of high school early and never finishing his GED. He is still working on it now and I help him with that as well some of the time at the office.
His group idea is to have a place where inmates can go to vent to each other and “be real” as he says. Too many of the programs available now have restrictions on topics as well as civilian interaction. Guys will not open up and tell what is really on their chest or mind in those circumstances, so Prince wants to have a real dialogue with no one limiting it. Being in for over 18 years I guess he knows what he is talking about. While we work on it, he tells me of some of his past facilities and things that went on there, mostly about fights, gangs and drugs and what to look out for here. He asks me about what life is like on the outside now and seems amazed to learn of cell phones and the internet, things that have already passed him by.
So Prince has his plans and I have mine. When asked, he retells his Protestant background, derived through his grandmother but never cultivated as a youth. Now he goes to the same services I go to, but I’m not really sure where he is on his walk. I know I have to continue my walk, and get to a correctional institution that has the program I need sooner than later.