I’ve been a prisoner since 1995. I started at level 3 or “close” security, which in Ohio is a designation just below maximum but higher than medium security. A kind of quasi hades zone between the two designations, and something I’ve never really understood.
483 pp, (paperback $11.50) ebook ($1.99) Availab le at amazon.com
I’m always looking toward the future. I don’t live in the past, and today is simply a crossroad into the future. For 2 1\2 years I’ve written LettersFromChristopher. I’m more excited with each passing day for what is yet to come, for the stories and voices of other prisoners posted here about their incarceration struggles and triumphs.
When I started LettersFromChristopher it was just me. I’ve met amazing people on this journey from prisoners to free world citizens. All with personal stories to share about incarceration.
Now I write with Felicia, a prisoner at Ohio’s massive women’s prison known as ”The Farm”, regularly posting thoughts and stories from prisoners around the United States. We write to draw awareness to the plight of prisoners in the world’s largest penal system. One post at a time. One voice at a time.
Behind The Wall: A Prisoner’s Journal is a book containing every LettersFromChristopher post from inception through April 2021. In it you’ll find personal stories and essays about incarceration from male and female prisoners, all at your fingertips. No clicking. No scrolling. There’s tons of pictures and images taken from the site, and special written series are highlighted for easy reference. There’s also an eBook version for on the go reading.
What is day to day prison life like? What’s it like to be an incarcerated parent? What do prisoners struggle with but never tell their families about? These questions are answered in Behind The Wall: A Prisoner’s Journal.
It’s my hope that you will purchase a copy for yourself, and for others you know who may have a family member incarcerated or who has an interest in incarceration. For this reason, I’ve priced the book as low as Amazon would allow. I make virtually nothing from each copy sold.
If you work in corrections or law enforcement or are a criminal justice student, this book is for you. In it you’ll discover the human side of us prisoners and you will find that we share more common ground than what prevailing stereotypes dictate.
I believe that rehabilitation, not endless incarceration, is the key to breaking the cycle of crime. When one’s rehabilitation is ignored or under weighted by state parole boards and administrators there’s a tangible cost to society. The solution to incarceration isn’t more incarceration.
Awareness begins one post and one voice at a time.
March 29, 2007 at 5:46pm, a day that I will never forget. Becoming a mother for the first time, looking down into his beautiful (then) blue eyes. The silkiest black hair I had ever seen, long enough to lay on his neck. Delivered by C-Section, weighing 9 pounds 3 ounces, 21 1/2 inches long. Dr. says, “Hey nurse call Jim Tressel, his new quarterback was just born.”
The first time my heart skipped its beat, quickened and slowed all at once. Love at first sight, one of those feelings that happen very seldomly in a lifetime. They knock you off balance. Watching my son grow up kept me on my toes. My days filled with fear and anxiety.
Every time he would stumble and fall, I wanted to be the one to break his fall. The day he was born I vowed to protect him at all costs, later realizing it was impossible. Have you ever not been able to breathe? That feeling of panic that sets in. That’s the only way to describe how you feel while raising a child. Every minute of every day mixed with feelings of unconditional love and happiness. Does the feeling of fear ever go away? Who knows? Fourteen years later and many miles apart, that feeling is still alive and burning.
My heart is full of cherished memories. From his first word (“dada”), to his first steps (10 months old), to his first day at school, trips to the hospital. The normal boy injuries to the scary WTF happened and how injuries. All these moments and many more brought happy tears along with moments of sadness. Knowing with each moment, it was a step towards him growing up and no longer needing mommy. A very common worry with most parents.
Now at 14, about 6 foot, 200 pounds, I can’t protect him anymore. Doing 17 years in prison. They say you come here to get reformed, but the things they don’t tell you is the ups and downs you will go through with your children, family, spouse and friends.
After teaching me what true love felt like, making me a mother and showing me what happiness really is, he’s teaching me something new. A feeling only your child can give you. A pain that cuts so deep you have to second guess yourself. He taught me that no man can break your heart like your own son.
“Fuck you bitch, I have no respect for anyone in prison, and there’s not shit you can do about it.” Words that replay over and over in my head. Shattered my heart. Made me mentally evaluate myself, questioning why I’m doing the things I’m doing…G.E.D., college, writing, groups, programs, etc…All to benefit my success in the future upon my release. To be stronger for my children. But if my own flesh and blood hates me, what am I really doing this for? What am I really going home to? I have always been a mother before I’m anything.
How do you repair your relationship with your child or help them when they are crying out? These invisible handcuffs take away more than your physical freedom.
(“I Got You” by Ciara) “I love you son and I’ll always wait for you to come back.”
To the average person today is a day to celebrate the man that helped give you life. Raised you to be the man or woman you’ve become. To thank them for everything they’ve done and continue to do.
While others spend today remembering the man that has become their personal guardian angel. That raised them, taught them everything that they know. Supported the family. Disciplined you when it was necessary, but has since passed away. Leaving behind memories of happiness mixed with a feeling of yearning to have just one more conversation go unanswered…
ion, one mo
re hug, just another moment.
To me Father’s Day is just another reminder of what was, will never be. My father is still alive, walking, living and breathing. Where is he? Your guess is as good as mine. Th
e last time we spoke was July 2018 shortly after I was arrested.
Does it bother me? Not in the slightest. Yes, I’m happy on Father’s Day, but not for the standard meaning. I’m not celebrating who he is nor what he has done for me or to me. I’m h
appy that I don’t have to be tortured with his presence. The uncomfortable tension that lingers on the air when we are in the same room. The unspoken events that have taken place.
s the ne
rve to claim he is embarrassed and ashamed of me. Why? Oh, for coming to prison. I’m his only biological daughter. Who does a normal girl call upon in a time of need or danger? Her father…
But my call
See I’m far from normal. The life I have lived, the things I have endured under my father’s supervision, makes him the last person I would call upon.
He allowed m
e to be robbed of my innocence in his home while he was shit faced drunk, pa
ssed out in the same room. Being raped while your father is present, looking over with tears in your eyes, seeing him passed out with no knowledge of what’s happening. Begging and pleading silently that he would wake up but never did, will change your opinion of the person you considered your own personal superhero once upon a time.
Two, he got so drunk one night that his own daughter became desirable and he got his rocks off while touching me at a very young age.
Three, I am of no importance to him. I wouldn’t even know where to look even if I wanted t
So with that being said, I want to wish all of you real men out there a happy Father’s Day. Thank you for understanding what it takes to be a father. While also wishing myself a
happy Father’s Day. Another happy day without my father’s presence. Another day passes reminding me that I survived and didn’t allow the hand he dealt me cause me to fail.
Felicia (Ohio Reformatory for Women) (OH)
Every boy has a superhero. Sports figures, actors, comic book characters–it doesn’t matter.
Every boy has his ‘Superman’. Mine has always been my father, but I didn’t always know this.
There was a time, I think, all those years ago in Las Vegas, that maybe my mother could’ve been my superhero. But Mom loved ringing slot machines and riffling poker cards. Even though she abandoned us boys for entire days at a time out gambling, locking us in our cribs and rooms, I still yearned for her. What child doesn’t yearn for his mother? What child isn’t quick to forgive?
My father is an amazing man. When he wasn’t around when I was a boy I didn’t understand. ”Where’s Dad?” I’d ask. ”He’s at work Christopher,” or ”He’s on a business trip,” was always the reply. His absence at my after-school events left me with feelings of loss. There was so much I didn’t understand as a boy.
But upon his retirement, upon the day culminating his distinguished career, during a ceremony surrounded by people that I knew but didn’t truly know until that day, all the past days of my life with Dad became clear. I understood.
Dad had never been absent. He was always there for me and my brothers, working tirelessly so that we three boys wouldn’t have to struggle growing up like he once did. Working to protect family and country. He was, the whole time, my real-life superhero. And like any true superhero, he hid his powers from those around him, never seeking recognition.
Last year I lost my younger brother John and his absence shreds all of us. Me because he was my best friend, Dad because he was his son. I see how it has injured him. I’m powerless to heal my superhero, lost in prison while Fate smirks.
You discover much in prison. Every day is a lesson. Most importantly, you discover what matters in life–family. There’s nothing more important, and I think this is why I’ve surrounded myself with those who don’t have family or a father like mine. Maybe it’s because I understand? Maybe it’s because I want to rescue others from the pain? Or maybe it’s because I’m terrified to lose what little remains of mine, and to be reminded through the lives of others I shall never lose sight of what I have? Honestly, I don’t know why.
Celebrate this Father’s Day, with your superhero while you still can. Love him, cherish him…