Matt’s Story

Second Chances: Sarah

I’m having an emotional night. And what better time to write then huh? Tonight I finished up some filming for a driver education program I have been helping with. The filming is being done at PNN which is Prison News Network at Marion prison. It is run by inmates. Most of them have very long, if not life sentences. Most have also already served quite a bit of time. From the moment I did my first filming session I felt very comfortable working with the inmates. They were all very respectful and professional. I treated them just like any other person and you could tell they immediately appreciated that. You can also tell this group of guys are extremly close and dedicated to their work. They tend to stay away from the rest of the prison and spend as many hours working as they can. They all have different jobs, most of them have learned or taught themselves a skill….such as editing, graphics, voiceovers etc. I was very impressed by the whole system. I had no idea anything like this even existed within a prison. Before my brother went to prison, in all honesty I didn’t think twice about prisons or the people in it. I didn’t care and just assumed most belonged there. My eyes have obviously been forced open. The more I see and get to know, the more shocked I am at how naive I was. Tonight, I was actually sad leaving this group of guys that I have worked with the past few months. I will miss talking with them, getting to know them. The real truth is, I will probably never see any of them again. But one sticks out. He has done bad things. He has a life sentence. When I first met him I didn’t know that so I never judged him. He is now in his sixties and been in prison over half his life. He is also sick. Very sick and will most likely die in prison. Over this time I have come to know him and genuinely like him. We joke and give each other “crap”. We surprisngly have similar sarcastic personalities but live in two completely different worlds. Tonight when I saw him I knew he wasn’t doing very well. Later I heard he probably doesn’t have long left. As I was leaving he said goodbye and thanked me for being his friend.  I don’t know what he “deserves” in this life, I don’t know what is fair “punishment” for his crimes and I am glad I don’t have to be the judge of that. I am thankful I met him as he changed my mind. I struggle with the things he has done many years ago, but my sister commented that it’s okay to focus on the good parts of people.  I do believe in second chances, I believe people change. If we don’t believe than what is the point? What is the point of prisons, rehabs, programs, etc. No matter how long he has been in prison and what he has done to better himself, most likely he will be remembered for the crimes he committed. I worry about that fate for my brother as well. We have to give those who have done wrong a second chance. We have to forgive the past and allow them to become a new person, a better person.

5 comments

  1. Becky dillard - January 15, 2015 11:30 pm

    well said Sara,I agree my nephew was in prison years back, was sent right after graduating from bgsu, for selling cocaine in bg, set up by his bf..I am a firm believer in 2nd chances no matter what the crime is committed.. I at times use your brothers story so pple see that it only takes one time to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking to seriously hurt yourself or someone else.. I’m so happy I was able to hear you speak at the conference in Co, and I hope to see your family at another one.god bless to you and yours..

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  2. Robert Ortiz - January 27, 2015 6:25 pm

    There is no question that people change – especially with the benefit of a long life. At almost 54 years old, and hoping to maybe (with some luck and a modified diet!) make it to 80, it occurs to me that I am now entering the last 1/3rd of my life. The first 27 years were fun, fun, fun. And if not for some really amazing luck, some of the stupid drinking and partying I did could have easily gone awry and led to trouble with the law, or certainly killing myself and possibly others. Pure luck that it didn’t. The middle third has been a tumultuous journey of losing and then finding myself, with a heavy dose of God thrown into it. I am VERY lucky – and I know that. And I am grateful for the second (third, fourth, etc) chances that I have had in my life.

    Reply
  3. Robert Ortiz - January 27, 2015 6:25 pm

    There is no question that people change – especially with the benefit of a long life. At almost 54 years old, and hoping to maybe (with some luck and a modified diet!) make it to 80, it occurs to me that I am now entering the last 1/3rd of my life. The first 27 years were fun, fun, fun. And if not for some really amazing luck, some of the stupid drinking and partying I did could have easily gone awry and led to trouble with the law, or certainly killing myself and possibly others. Pure luck that it didn’t. The middle third has been a tumultuous journey of losing and then finding myself, with a heavy dose of God thrown into it. I am VERY lucky – and I know that. And I am grateful for the second (third, fourth, etc) chances that I have had in my life.

    Reply
  4. Nina - January 27, 2015 11:04 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post. It takes courage to put yourself out there in a blog post. For myself, I always appreciate people who put effort to make the most of their circumstance regardless of where they have been. I teach high schoolers in disenfranchised parts of town who are getting their Associate Degree in college while by the time they graduate. Many come from homes where their parents don’t have a high school degree and may have come from other countries. They are dedicated and focused and are making the most of what they are offered. There is something about the spirit that chooses that path, the one less traveled, the one fraught with difficulty and hard work. Those are the people I want to be surrounded by…not the ones who never make mistakes or do but blame others for them. Just my personal view on life. Thanks, Nina

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  5. Timothy - January 30, 2015 2:01 pm

    It has been a long time since I have rested the Holy Bible on my chest and cried myself to sleep in a prison cell. All I can say is, “Thank you, God”. You have brought me a mighty long way from parasitic self-loathing to love. I drove a stolen car under the influence of alcohol in August 1977. I served 6 years inside. I did not sober up until 1990, and started speaking for MADD MN. The world can be a pretty unforgiving place, and it’s amazing how deadly sick unforgiveness can be, and how it is often masked in self-justified spiritual toxin. But such as it may be, we need to love the haters, or we fall prey to the same disease. Read The More Loving One by WH Auden. The poem changed my life. Peace~and oh, I still speak for MADD. It has been 24- years as of this month.

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