Back in early 2019 when I started this blog I simply wanted to write about the things I experienced behind these walls. I wrote partly because it was self-therapy, my way of coping with prison life, and partly because I wanted to feel a connection to the outside world. I wanted to know that I wasn’t a forgotten human like so many of us are behind these walls. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I had to say save for a smattering of family and friends.
It has been 3 years since I wrote the first post titled “Monsters Exist“. I’ve heard from mothers who are struggling to cope while their loved one is incarcerated, and I’ve heard from readers as far away as Europe and China who follow week after week because they’re curious. Our system of corrections is very different from other nations, worse in many ways and better in some. Yet, the thing that still strikes me each time I hear it, are the thanks and gratitude readers have expressed to me for being willing to explain the unknowns and for bringing to light that which is often left in the dark. It has been a humbling journey.
Now I write with Felicia, a prisoner at Ohio’s massive women’s prison known as ”The Farm”, and with a half dozen other men and women regularly posting their thoughts and stories along with so many others incarcerated around the United States. We write to draw awareness to the plight of the incarcerated in the world’s largest penal system. One post at a time. One voice at a time.
We incarcerated shield our families from the trials, tribulations and struggles we go through. Some experience these to lesser degrees than others, but all of us here are impacted by them. If you’re reading this and you have a loved one or friend who’s incarcerated or know someone who once was, this is your window into their life. Read and learn and then reflect on what you’ve discovered.
I want the world to know what Incarceration is like in this country. We spend so much time criticizing the penal systems of other nations but fail to focus that microscope on our own. We incarcerate more citizens per capita than any other nation on Earth. Yet, we are the “freest” nation in the world? Something seems wrong with that picture.
LettersfromChristopher has linked up with local and national organizations, all working together on a common cause to draw awareness to the incarceration narrative. In some instances, the awareness and change writers of this blog have brought forth has impacted nearly every individual incarcerated in this great country, from getting a well-known national inmate services company to cease a predatory practice to changes in policy at state level.
I’m convinced that rehabilitation and public awareness, not endless incarceration, is the key to breaking the cycle of crime. Part of bringing about that change is by drawing awareness to the problem. It’s about reaching out to the minds of today’s criminal justice students for they are tomorrow’s correctional officers, correctional administrators, directors and lawmakers. It’s about establishing connections with organizations, universities, and those who’ve had professional careers in the criminal justice arena who are now advocates. It’s about reaching like minded individuals who’ve been touched by the hand of incarceration in some way. When the rehabilitation narrative is ignored or under weighted by lawmakers, state parole boards and administrators there’s a tangible cost to society.
In the coming weeks I’ll be posting stories written by men and women who’ve experienced gang life.
You’ll read a mother’s letter of her pain and anguish, love and hope for her incarcerated child.
You’ll read an incarcerated daughter’s letter to her mother that will remind you that even in the darkest places of our world, there is love, hope and thanks for all that parents endure while their loved one’s are away.
In the months to follow you’ll read essays written by those on death row. You’ll hear voices you never hear. You’ll discover the other side of the incarceration narrative and in very intimate ways.
It’s my hope that through these stories and letters you come away with newfound awareness that brings forth discussion and understanding.
Posting the diverse thoughts and voices of incarcerated men and women reveals the true picture of life behind bars. It’s not just my experience or observations. It’s all of us.
The solution to incarceration isn’t more incarceration. I know because I have lived this for decades.
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