Dr. Q

I often think of the many kind and wonderful staff I’ve met over the duration of my incarceration. These are individuals who were willing to help me when I needed help and individuals that helped me when I didn’t realize I needed help. All of them took a chance with me, and I am forever grateful.

I have so many stories to share about these good souls, and I credit staff with having gently steered me toward the path of reform many years ago. Today I want to tell you about a staffer who once worked here as a psychologist. By the time I met him, he had devoted more than 18 years of his life to helping juvenile and adult offenders find the path forward in their lives and overcome the mental obstacles that held them back. I shall call him Dr. Q.

Some years back, I had partnered with an inmate named Chad in launching a new program here called Life Development. The program was about teaching offenders the life skills needed at different stages of one’s life. It addressed issues that many offenders do not understand, and in order to get the program off the ground we needed a staff facilitator. When Chad and I sought out a sponsor, Dr. Q did not hesitate. As Life Development slowly came to fruition, a three staff core of facilitators emerged, each of them willing to devote large amounts of personal time to helping us. I am grateful to each of them for their selfless dedication.

During the early stages of hashing out the core of Life Development, Chad and I individually spent hours talking with Dr. Q. Through this process, I came to discover that Dr. Q had spent a lifetime studying and researching NDE’s, or near-death experiences. One day as we were hashing out Life Development material that concerned late life issues, Dr. Q offered to show me a video of interviews with local Cincinnati residents who had experienced an NDE. It was a video created in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Moody, and one Dr. Q.

The video showcased interviews with near- death survivors recalling what they had experienced. It was emotionally moving, and it unexpectedly brought back a flood of memories from my childhood that I had long suppressed. I speak about some of this in my post Angels Among Us.

In confiding in Dr. Q about my childhood, he provided an atmosphere and sincere outlet for me to explore, understand, and discuss what I remembered and experienced. Through our sessions I discovered that many of my childhood angel moments shared a striking commonality with those who have experienced NDE’s.

When I was 20 years old I had contracted influenza and nearly died. During those late moments I experienced a series of ‘wonderfully peaceful moments,’ for lack of better descriptive words, that would remain a source of confusion for me for years. It was an event I kept from family until decades later, both because of the trauma and the difficulty I had with reconciling my experience. Through Dr. Q’s willingness to explore NDE’s with me I found understanding and peace. This understanding has opened my eyes to the world and our place in it.

Many people across the world today and throughout time and across every culture have experienced similar things through NDE’s. Who can explain what they represent? Most people can’t except for one group: those who have experienced this for themselves. Experiencers come away from these moments spiritually changed and with renewed optimism for life and those around them. I understand this optimism and view because I too feel it and desire to share it with everyone.

Dr. Q is one of the most amazing people I have ever known. He’s a selfless man with an all encompassing love for others. He didn’t have to help me nor was he ever told that he must. He simply did. His impact on me will last until my final days, and because of him I was able to put the final piece of the puzzle together in my life. He is the reason why I can now share with you what I’ve learned and discovered: that life and the future is far more wonderful than we’ve ever imagined.

I am forever grateful.


Angels Among Us

When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to write about what incarceration is like here in the U.S., and I strive to stay true to that at all times. Today I’m going to share with you something very personal. Since my experience while incarcerated has influenced what I am about to tell you, I present it here.

Have you ever wondered, “Why are we here? What is our purpose in life?” How about the age old question, “Is there an afterlife?” I pondered these questions for years before I found the answers, but before I tell you how I came to understanding, I want to tell you a story.

When I was a child I had a friend who was always kind to me. When I was afraid he’d comfort me, and when I was sad he’d lift me up. Sometimes though, when I wasn’t expecting it, he would show me wonderful things. On very rare occasions he showed me evil things, but only because he wanted me to be aware. Most importantly, I knew what he was and I never questioned it. He was what we would call an angel.

It wasn’t until I grew older where I became aware that this wasn’t normal. None of my friends talked of similar experiences, and whenever I mentioned this to my parents they always told me I had a vivid imagination. When I was a child I took these occurrences in stride as I thought it was normal to see, hear, and talk to angels. I thought everyone did.

My encounters ended sometime when I was 12 years old. When the last one occurred I knew it was the final time. There was always an unspoken communication, and the last one was specifically to say goodbye. It was a traumatic moment for me and it was a goodbye that I struggled with for a very long time.

From that moment onward, darkness seemed to come into my life. Slowly I began to question the existence of God. What type of God, I wondered, would show a child a glimpse of heaven and then abandon him? When I looked around I began to see all the things I never saw as a child. I saw hatred and anger in people, and I saw pain and suffering everywhere. By the time I was 18 years old I had become a staunch atheist and was in full rebellion against the world.

When we were children, all of us saw the world differently than how we do now. If you watch and listen to children, you discover that they are willing to love you unconditionally. Why is this? It’s because children are naturally attuned to God and loving others. For them talking to God or angels is nothing out of the ordinary. There are tomes of works that attest to this. Hollywood has even made a number of movies about the experiences of these children.

It took a near-death experience when I was 20 years old, followed by years of introspection, before I came to understanding. We all share a common destiny, and now I understand why the angel’s goodbye was necessary. It was so that I would discover on my own the answers to these questions, because with discovery comes understanding and spiritual growth.

So then, why exactly are we here? We are here to discover our purpose in life. This is the underlying core of our existence. If this is so, then what is our purpose? Our sole purpose in life is to find God, and through discovery we learn that all of us are part of the same great family. Every major religion in the world has at its core one purpose: to help us find God. Think about it. It’s true. It doesn’t matter which faith you follow, because at its core this is what its all about. Is there an afterlife? Definitely, and this is found through personal discovery. Some of us discover this as children through interaction with angels; some discover this after experiencing a near-death experience or through great sickness; still others discover this by talking to those who already have.

How can I be so sure I know the answers to these questions? I know because I’ve experienced everything I just wrote about. Amazingly, my experiences are not unique. Some of you out there already know this because you too have experienced similar things. But for those of you who are unsure, I say to you I speak the truth.

No matter what you believe or where you are from there is a path offered to us all. It has but one destination, and it is solely up to you to discover it. To discover is to see, and to see is to understand. With understanding comes enlightenment, and with enlightenment comes peace and happiness.



I’ve been thinking about writing this story for a number of days now, struggling with the idea of sharing this with you because it’s dark, unsettling, and true. I think in order for me to be true to all of you I should also include stories like this one, as it is a true personal experience and is part of the broader picture of incarceration. This story about Buddy offers you a glimpse at the darker side of incarceration. It’s a snap shot from within This World.

Those of you that know me already know that I have a deep interest in understanding personalities and why people do the things they do. This is partly born out of necessity due to my environment, but also because I’m fascinated with understanding others. To read and understand others is to be able to survive while incarcerated. I tell my friends I can read their souls, and they usually let out a chuckle saying, “Aw, yeah right. Quit kidding…um, you’re kidding right?” Yeah guys, I’m kidding–maybe.

Of all the personalities that exist, one truly scares me. This is a story about that personality and about someone I knew for years. Men here with this personality are dangerous–truly dangerous. You often don’t know you are in their presence for they look and sound like everyone else. Some are even charismatic and very disarming. All of them are hard to read.

This story is about a fellow I knew who I’ll call Buddy. We were incarcerated at the same security level for many years, before he decided to transfer to another institution. Buddy is serving a life sentence for a gruesome murder. He once told me that every two years he planned to transfer to a different Ohio prison. When I asked him why, he said that it was part of his “world tour”. He was dead serious. His life sentence meant nothing to him.

Finally, Buddy does not represent the typical murderer–if such a thing existed. There is no typical murderer, and I’m willing to debate that with anyone who thinks otherwise. While some murderers share common clinical characteristics as viewed from the DSM-IV, in my opinion it is only marginally useful when attempting to apply it to everyone who commits homicide. I base this on my life experience interacting with these men.

The following story picks up in the middle of a conversation I was having with Buddy one day during the summer of 2003. We were standing in the day room, and he wanted to tell me about the crime he committed. Why? Because he was bored, and because he found excitement and satisfaction in doing so.

“The detective testified that it was the most gruesome crime scene he’d ever seen in his thirty years of service,” Buddy said, smiling.

“Gruesome?” I asked.

Buddy wasn’t a stranger to me. We had known each other for years, having met initially on the softball team we played on. Every summer we’d play together, he and a dozen other men we knew, and our team was very good. As for Buddy, he was by far the best player in the institution.

He was also a psychopath.

“Yeah,” he replied.

“What do you mean?”

“Ah, dude!” His face lit with excitement. “I’ve never told you the story?”

I shook my head ‘no’. The story he went on to tell would cause me to never view him the same again.

“I killed my best friend with a hammer!” he exclaimed.

“Man, you’re kidding me–right? Why?”

“Ah, dude, I was fucked up back then. I was strung out on that Dog, and I’d gone to his house to steal his dope.” Dog was heroin. I wasn’t surprised to hear this, because I knew he had a bad drug habit. He was always getting high.

“Not your best friend,” I said, trying to gather my thoughts.

“Yeah. As I said, I was fucked up.” His eyes lowered for a second, as if he felt a pang of sadness. Then the next second he was over it. His arms were in animated motion now. “Ah, wait ’til you hear this part!” His eyes were wide and he was smiling again.

“So,” he said, “he was sleeping on the couch, right, and I crept past him looking”–he crept forward, all cat paws and silence–“like this, right? And I couldn’t find the shit. Then, as I was leaving”–he crept cat-like, the other way now–“I thought I saw him move a little.”


“Well, yeah.”

“Was he still asleep?”

“Yeah, dude. And I froze”–the cat froze–“and I was like, shit!”

“But he was asleep, yes?”

“Yeah,” he replied. He seemed momentarily annoyed I kept interrupting.

“So-o, then what?” I said.

“I looked around and there was this hammer on the floor.”

Holy Jeezus, I thought.

“What?” I said. “Just sitting there? A hammer?”

“Yeah, man.”


“I don’t know. So, anyway,” he said, dismissing the interruption, “I picked up the hammer.” His hand out now, clutching an invisible hammer.

“No way. I thought you said he was asleep?”

“Well, he was,” he said, slightly perplexed at my inquiry.

“Then why would you use the hammer to–”

“No, no man! It wasn’t like that. I just wanted to tap him on the head–”

“Tap him on the head?”

“To knock him out you know?” His hand now made a ginger tapping motion. “I just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t wake up. But when the hammer hit his head it went into his skull.”

“What the hell?! But you said he was asleep!”

“I barely tapped him–”

“Yeah,” I interrupted, “it’s a friggin’ hammer, what did you expect?”

“Well I didn’t think it would go all the way in.” His eyes grew wide again with excitement. He tapped me on the shoulder with the hammer hand to drive home what he was about to say: “Dude, he started twitching!”

Holy shit, I thought. Buddy’s a fucking psychopath.

“You called an ambulance, right?”

“Uh, no,” he said. “I thought, ‘Ah, shit, he’s suffering,’ so I began hitting him on the head with the hammer.” His hand was up high, plunging the invisible hammer down again and again.

“Why?! You could have called an ambulance!”

He stopped all motion and looked at me. And then just like that he shrugged his shoulders as if he could care less. He simply shrugged.

“I just wanted to put him out of his misery,” he said, “you know”–no, I didn’t know–“so he wouldn’t suffer.”

I was stunned, shocked, and dismayed. I knew Buddy was in for murder and had an unusually long sentence, but up until this point he never told me what he had done. For the first time in the 10 years I knew him, I feared Buddy. It had nothing to do with him being a murderer, they’re everywhere around here, but everything to do with how much pleasure he took in telling me the story as he relived events. It was as if he felt nothing. He seemed to be truly reliving the moment.

“And, you started hitting him in the head?”


“How many times?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. At trial, the detectives testified it was more than thirty times from the best they could tell, but nobody really knew because his skull was obliterated.

“They testified that blood was everywhere. Brain matter everywhere–on the ceiling, on the walls–everywhere. But I don’t remember anything from the point I started hitting him until I was back home.”

I was speechless.

Buddy continued: “Crime scene photos showed that there was so much blood that it soaked through the floor and down through the ceiling in the apartment below.”

I told myself from that moment forward I would never, ever piss Buddy off for any reason. Suddenly every odd comment, every angry moment, every confrontation I’d witnessed him in over the years took on new meaning and significance. For the rest of my life I will never forget the day he told me this story.

He relished being able to relive the moment. He found joy in telling the story, and he truly enjoyed it. Then, as if to punctuate his true nature, he walked over to someone standing nearby and punched him, just like that right out of the blue. He hit the man so hard it knocked him off his feet. When the man fell, he soccer kicked him in the ribs and called him a child-molesting bitch.

It wasn’t the fact that Buddy had assaulted the man because he had committed a sex crime against a child that shocked me; assaults happen all the time around here. It was the way he showboated for everyone watching. Before he had kicked him, he said, “Watch this!” and before he bent down to punch him again he winked at all of us.

As if it was all fun and games.

Cry Baby, Santa, and the Easter Bunny

Someone once asked me what the holidays are like here. I chuckled to myself before answering. That’s actually a very good question. Well, I thought, there’s many ways I could answer this question and none of them are short and sweet. So I simply said, “If you only knew.” I was part serious and part kidding. Nothing here is normal during the holidays!

This is originally part of an entry from my journal from 2017. Before I wrote for all of you, I used to write just for myself. It’s a form of self-therapy and my way of staying focused. After some consideration, I’ve decided to share it with you in this post. So, let’s get on with it I say.

The holidays are the hardest time of the year for anyone incarcerated. Guys get depressed and irritable. They mope. They drift. This time of the year magnifies the truth of your situation; that you cannot be with the ones that you love because of your actions. For most guys, the holidays are the exclamation point behind this fact. Mercifully, the holidays become less painful as time progresses, especially if you’ve been pulling a long sentence. It has nothing to do with caring less, but everything to do with learning how to cope. You learn how to control your emotions and how to distract yourself enough from always thinking of home. You also learn how to deal with those around you better.

As I write, it’s Thanksgiving 2017. The holidays have arrived again. I always throw myself a celebration, usually centered around making something to eat. Inmates call it making a ‘break’ (which, to thoroughly confuse all of you, in This World can be meant as a verb as in “He’s breaking,” or a noun, as in “I made a break,” or even an adjective, as in “Let’s break.”). This year was no different. I made burritos and ate enough food to feed a small village, me and a couple of guys, and I’ll do it again on Christmas and New Year’s. It’s how I celebrate the holidays and it’s how I stay grounded.

It wasn’t always like this for me though. Several years passed before I stopped feeling sorry for myself during the holidays. This time of the year used to be very depressing and I loathed it. But once I took responsibility for my situation, and began viewing life through a new lens, the holidays became happy for me again. Yeah, I’ve had my bad moments over the holidays. There’s tension amongst the inmate population and it is easy to run into someone who is irritated or pissed off. As an example, using the phones during the holidays can be downright harrowing. At my institution there are six phones in every cell block, all of them situated in a tiny room that’s shaped like a gas chamber. This is better than some institutions in the country, but still crappy because there are only six phones for hundreds of inmates.


On Thanksgiving, everyone wants to call home. You’re lucky to get a hold of a phone let alone one when you need to. As a result emotions run high for some guys. It’s common to hear arguments. Yet, Thanksgiving pales in comparison to one other holiday: Christmas.

Christmas is the worst! Not only does everyone use the telephone, but there’s always guys who are visibly irritated. Throw in that one idiot who is always on the phone yelling at his wife or girlfriend and you have a powder keg awaiting ignition.

Then you have those that are simply grumpy because they hate themselves and they hate life. You may not notice them at first but they’re around. I always keep an eye out for these types. These are the men that go from zero to Cry Baby in the blink of an eye over the stupidest things.

“Hey, you grabbed the phone I wanted!”

“You’re talking too loud!”

“You’re redialing!”


I can’t begin to tell you how annoying it is to hear someone cry because you’ve redialed. First off, the phone system here sucks. It’s like this at institutions the country over. Calls constantly get dropped for no apparent reason; the phone you’re on decides to work intermittently; the sound cuts you in and out; you can’t hear your caller, and the list goes on. Every offender in the country can attest to this. Redialing has become almost a recognized finger sport it’s so bad.

There will never come a time where I will forfeit talking to my family just because someone doesn’t like it. Not going to happen. Sometimes this becomes confrontational. Early in my incarceration I literally fought, had to hit Cry Baby with the very receiver my father was on over something like this. All the while I could hear my father wondering what was happening on my end. I could hear him calling my name!

Then, when it was over, I went back to my conversation. It may sound crazy, but I tell you this is common during the holidays. Everyone expects something to happen, that’s how bad it is. You get used to it though.

What about other guys?

Many times I’ve been the one on the phone as the man next to me fought someone over the exact same thing. This always makes talking on the phone an adventure. There’s little space in the phone room as it is. When a fight erupts, those of us on the phones engage in a type of dance, moving and weaving around the two men fighting. Every time this happens I find myself thinking that hopefully they finish soon—there’s only 15 minutes per call.

Of course, the holidays are what you make of them. Guys around here can be a joking lot, and contrary to popular thought, there is a lot of laughter that goes on.

It seems like every Christmas someone dresses up as Santa Claus, or the festiveness of the holiday sparks someone to decorate the area. During years past, my institution has even held holiday decoration contests where we are encouraged to participate in decorating the housing unit. When I was at the higher security levels, this consisted of decorating your cell door or perhaps a community area in the cell block. It is awkward to be sure, as hardened cons resolutely refuse to participate, and you are guaranteed to hear about it if you participate.

However, in minimum security it’s different. The old school inmates here are men who have earned their way down, and most of them have long since shed that type of mentality. Holiday decorating consists of decorating all the communal areas as most facilities at this level do not have cells but open dorm bunk style plans. Frankly, it’s quite a sight to behold. Convicts tattooed from head to foot, rapists, thieves, and drug addicts all together in a shared common purpose: to celebrate the holiday season. The other 51 weeks of the year half of these men wouldn’t dare talk to the other half! Let alone cut out a construction paper snowflake. I smile thinking about it.

One more story before I go. Last year at Christmas, I went outside to walk in the freshly falling snow. Most guys stay off the yard when the weather is like that, but for me it’s a moment of peace and beauty in a dark and violent world. When I returned from my walk, I had barely thawed when I noticed that there was candy on my bunk. Out of fear of perpetuating a stereotype (‘never accept the candy on your pillow!), I was immediately suspicious. Who in the world would do such a thing? I wondered. At the moment where I had convinced myself that I had to get to the bottom of such a lewd joke, I turned and noticed that ALL the bunks had candy on them! What in tarnation, I thought, is going on?

“Hey, Christopher!” someone shouted from across the way. It was my friend Miami (and yes, he’s from Miami).

“What?” I said, but didn’t look.

“Ho-ho-ho!” he replied.

I looked and to my chagrin, there was Miami, his laundry net bag in hand full of candy as he went bunk to bunk passing out the bounty. He had made a Santa beard out of what, Lord only knows, and he had a red stocking cap with a poofy white ball on top that he had obviously knitted himself. “Ho-ho-ho,” he bellowed as he faded into the far distance. I stood there marveling. Just when you think you’ve seen everything you realize you haven’t.

There’s something about the holidays that brings out the better sides of guys. It isn’t always negative. One Easter some of the old schoolers created a sign informing everyone of an Easter egg hunt on the yard. They then posted it onto the cork message board in the units and what do you know? Dozens of guys showed up on the yard ready to hunt eggs! It was hilarious. I sat alone off to the side at one of the benches, drinking from a cup of coffee as I marveled at the scene. At first I was surprised at how gullible grown men can be, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that gullibility had little to do with it. Deep down, we all remember what it’s like to be a kid. The thought of an Easter egg hunt and the subconscious desire to mentally flee from This World was enough. Nevermind that it’s ludicrous that an Easter egg could ever find its way into a prison yard!

I know I started this post talking about how the holidays are stressful for some guys, but most men are able to make light of it all. If you can’t smile and laugh during the holidays, what’s the point?


The Director of Ohio Prisons

I’ve spent most of today thinking about all the positive moments during my incarceration that have inspired me or changed my direction in life. I want to tell you all about one that simultaneously terrified and inspired me. It was a moment that I almost aborted, but am thankful I didn’t.

In 2014 I had the good fortune of personally meeting the Ohio Director of Prisons, Gary Mohr. I was in medium security at the time (level 2 in Ohio), and in the only dorm style housing unit on the compound. It was a transitional unit specifically for those offenders who would soon be leaving level 2 for minimum security. It’s a moment that many offenders view with trepidation because it involves a change in what is otherwise a Groundhog Day existence.

The transitional unit reminded me a bit like being that new goldfish you are about to put into the tank at home. You let him float around in his plastic bag for a while, making sure he’s ready, before setting him loose in a new environment. In a way the transition is necessary for many men, and I think the Ohio Department of Corrections realizes this. By the time you’ve made your way down to this point, you’ve witnessed and experienced terrible and sometimes traumatic things. It’s akin to leaving a war zone. Some men have even suffered from PTSD.

It was spring of that year, and everyone knew that someone of importance was coming. The administration never tells us who for a number of reasons, partly because they don’t want inmates airing the institution’s dirty laundry, and partly for security reasons. I learned that the VIP in question was the Director himself. I had told myself that if I ever had the chance I was going to talk to him because I had a few things to tell him, but not what you may think.

I was sitting at a table in the dayroom area when suddenly an entourage of people entered the unit. There came the warden, then a number of the institutional brass such as the Major and a Captain, followed by the unit manager and the institution’s Unit Management Administer. They were like a moving Maginot line ahead of the director and his people, ready to block, deflect, and discourage any inmate that dared to attempt contact.

Gary Mohr entered the unit with his personal assistant Ms. Melissa Adkins in tow, as well as the regional director. There may have been others, but time has clouded my memory a bit. Until that point I had only seen Director Mohr on television, once when he was appointed by the governor, and a couple of times in interviews. To see him in person was exciting, partly because he was actually here and partly because of what I was about to do.

In that instant I arose from the table, my movement definitely spotted by staff the moment I stood up. The institutional brass shot me frowns of disapproval while shifting left and slightly into my path, enough that I got the message but imperceptible enough that the director himself wouldn’t notice. I felt my stomach suddenly go queasy.

“Excuse me, Director Mohr?” I said.

Director Mohr turned toward me. I was relieved and smiled when he said, “What can I do for you?”

“I was wondering if I could talk to you for a moment.”

“Sure,” he said.

He then did something that shocked and terrified me. He said, “We can talk over there,” and motioned for me to follow him away from institutional staff and over to a nearby corner. I followed, but not before catching a glimpse of horrified looks from the institution’s leadership.

“What would you like to talk about?” he said, once we were alone.

“Sir, I’ve been incarcerated for almost 20 years,” I said. “You are the first director that has taken an active interest in pushing rehabilitation, and I see the change. I just want to say thank you, because you have made a difference in my life.”

I saw surprise cross his face. He wasn’t expecting what I said. I imagine he was probably expecting to hear some complaint about the institution or staff or about some dark issue. He was genuinely taken aback.

A long moment seemed to gather.

“In what way?” he finally said.

“Well, sir, since you’ve been director, there has been an increase in rehabilitative programs here. A number of staff here believe in what you are doing and it shows. I see it. All of us” –I reached out, making a sweeping motion– “see it. For me, because of you, several staff have gone out of their way to help and encourage me.”

He chuckled, then said, “Well, I wish all my peers believed in what I was doing! There are a lot of people below me who don’t like what I’m doing. But you know what? I don’t care what they think; that’s okay.”

“A few years ago,” I continued, “a staffer here encouraged me to write about my observations regarding rehabilitation [*], because we often talked about this. The fact that he was even willing to consider my observations, let alone encourage me, really surprised me. It broke a stereotype.

“So with his encouragement and the assistance of a number of other staff here, I wrote the first volume of a criminal justice series aimed toward the corrections professional. He credits you for his interest in rehabilitation and helping offenders toward the path of change.”

Director Mohr listened attentively to everything I had to say. He never interrupted me or seemed impatient. We then spend the next 10 minutes talking about rehabilitation. He was very candid and honest with me. He spoke passionately about his vision of reforming Ohio corrections toward and emphasis on rehabilitation. He mentioned the Tennessee model, and was very well versed in other existing and successful rehabilitative efforts nationwide.

“Have you finished your book?” He then asked me.

“Yes sir.”

“I would like to read it. Would you send me a copy? I’ll have my assistant Melissa Adkins give you my information.”

And so she did.

I came away from our talk full of optimism and energy. Our conversation exceeded anything I ever expected, and it was so positive I couldn’t help but wonder if it was too good. Was the director simply humoring me? Did he genuinely believe in rehabilitation and was he genuinely interested in what I had to say about it? If you had asked me these questions that day, I’d’ve said it’s hard to say. However, here in This World, we have a saying: time reveals everyone’s stripes. In the ensuing years as his time as director it became obvious to me that he meant every word he said. He was one of the few who truly understood and truly cared about reform.

Director Gary Mohr ended his tenure as Ohio’s Director of Prisons in 2018, ahead of a new governor coming in, and ahead of a new director, a woman named Ms. Annette Chambers-Smith. Only time will tell if the push for rehabilitation here in Ohio will continue. I remain cautiously optimistic. In her first few weeks as director, Ms. Chambers-Smith has been faced with renewed scrutiny over the Ohio Parole Board in the wake of the high profile resignation of board member and former Ohio senator Ms. Shirley Smith, over her allegations that the board is biased and hampers the rehabilitative mandate. How Director Chambers-Smith chooses to respond to this will affect policy and rehabilitation efforts in Ohio for years to come. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to talk to Director Chambers-Smith someday, because I would tell her many of the same things I told Director Mohr. I would encourage her to continue down the unpopular path of rehabilitation because it works. Everyone benefits from society as a whole to the very men and women who decide to make that change in their lives.

Director Mohr, in a PBS interview during his final days in office, said he only regretted that he was unable to do more, and that many of his efforts were blocked by his peers who did not agree with his direction.

If I could see him again I’d tell him, on behalf of all the families who would be touched by crime but now will never have to know, and on behalf of the families of incarcerated offenders, thank you for making a difference.


*An excerpt of the written work that was suggested and encouraged by the staffer mentioned in this post can be read here.