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Truth:  Over my lifetime I have allowed friends to enter and exit my life, without valuing them adequately...all too often without putting forth the hard work that is required to maintain and nurture those relationships.

Consequences:  I have fewer friends than I could have.

Truth:  I have a good friend who doesn't have a violent bone in his body, but made a stupid mistake.

Consequences:  He was arrested in February of this year, and is now in prison.

I am thinking of him now, and I miss him.  I wonder what he will be like when he leaves the justice system 2 years from now.  Will he be the same?  Will I be there to greet him?  What lays in store for him?

Seneca Doane recently published a diary soliciting help for a guy that he admitted up front was likely a "bad dude" incarcerated in California.  I offered what advice I could.  As I did so, I was thinking of my own prison here in Oregon.  He's not a bad dude.  He is, in fact, a man who comes as close to being a brother to me as one can come without sharing blood.

I won't go into what he did to land himself in jail, except to assure you it did not involve theft, or drugs, or physical or sexual violence.  Neither was it a white collar crime.  He made a stupid decision, and is paying dearly for it.

So, too, are his two sons.  His elderly mother.  Those he counts as his friends, of whom I am one.

I wonder about him this evening.  I often do.  How is he doing?  What is he doing?

I wonder what he will be like when he gets out.  Will he be the same?  I can't imagine that he will be.  Will we be able to pick up where we left off?  I hope so.

What will he do?  He was self employed as a court interpreter before his arrest.  That avenue of employment is closed to him now, since he is a convicted felon.  Again...he did not harm anyone...but his crime was a felony crime.  A felon is a felon...the word suggests violence.  Danger.  A person not to turn one's back upon.

I can think of no other person I know that I would choose to have my back than this man.  And I would trust him with anything.  But that's me.  I won't be able to offer him a job when he gets out.

I'm not sure what I want to say here...except this.  Not everyone who lands in jail, or in prison necessarily a bad person.  I'm not talking about innocence, even.  One can be good, and yet not be, in a specific circumstance, innocent.  

People who find themselves in prison fall into many different categories, and cover a wide spectrum of humanity.  There are bad dudes, as Seneca put it, there are good dudes too.  Some are innocent.  Most are probably guilty.  

But pretty much all of them are forgotten.  Except for their children, their family...and sometimes their spouses if they have one.  Life, for the rest of us, goes on.

I miss my friend.  I hope he is well.  I wouldn't wish him a Merry Christmas if I could.  I just hope I am still around and above water, and able to shake his hand when he gets out and try to help him get his bearings again.  If I'm not, for whatever reason, and he walks out in two years to find himself alone, and 52 years old...I hate to think what awaits him.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 08:46:59 PM PST

  •  I think about him every day (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Villanova Rhodes, jlms qkw, hazey

    I worry about his state of mind, his well being.  Iwonder how he puts in his time.  I wish I would have known what he was going to do that got him into this situation, and that I could have intervened.  

    I hope.

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 09:02:11 PM PST

  •  Most are guilty, some not, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Boberto, hazey, Russgirl, Eric Nelson

    but an awful lot fall into the category of "there but for fortune" -- or, if you're so inclined, "there but for the grace of God" -- go I. I don't know your circumstance, but if you can tell him he's not forgotten, do. You may not be able to give him a job, but you can be, as Carly Simon sang, "waiting at the gate." Good for you for keeping him in your thoughts at Christmas. I'll keep him in mine, too.  

  •  Usually... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Villanova Rhodes, hazey

    Even the max security prisons have very liberal visitation. Make the arrangements.  Take the drive.

    It will be one of the best things that will ever happen in your whole life.  And his too.

    It's the inequality, stupid.

    by Boberto on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 01:05:39 AM PST

  •  I am discomfitted by the phrase (0+ / 0-)

    "what he did to land himself in jail."  It lays the blame on the victim and omits consideration of the people and system actually responsible for the incarceration.
    If the incarceration is justified, then the phraseology overlooks that our system of justice has done good; if it isn't, then it overlooks a fault.
    Objectivism (defining events in terms of the affected) makes it impossible for us to effectively deal with success or failure.  If we don't know who's doing what, we can't correct or praise.

    Our prisons are full of people who are honest enough to admit having done something wrong.  They have a conscience and a desire to accept the consequences of their actions.  Human predators and parasites have no such concern and, if they have the gift of gab to talk themselves out of tight spots, they continue to roam among us, perpetrating their deprivation under cover of law. Our system of justice is partly to blame because the participants seek the easy way out and the verbally adept represent a challenge they'd rather avoid. Many people are willing to "swallow" the most outrageous stories, if they're told with the right, sincere demeanor. Liars get off.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 02:32:10 AM PST

  •  I know you're a music fan, Keith. (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe this is appropriate here:  

    A petty criminal is someone with predatory instincts but insufficient capital to form a corporation.

    by stlsophos on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 04:35:48 AM PST

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