Prisonist.org: Edited by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Executive Director of Family ReEntry, serving the CT Criminal Justice Community & Co-Founder of Progressive Prison Ministries, the First Ministry in the U.S. Created to Support Individuals, Families & Organizations with White-Collar and Other Nonviolent Incarceration Issues.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Faith and Dignity on CorrLinks: Federal Prison Email

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Faith and Dignity on CorrLinks: 
Federal Prison Email


 CorrLinks is a way for family and friends to
 communicate with their loved ones
  incarcerated in prison.  We received 
our ministee's permission to post (anonymously) 
this series of powerful CorrLinks
 emails that we thought would be 
particularly helpful to our 
audience at prisonist.org.
__________

Good morning Jeff, sorry for delaying this note but money is tight for me right now.

In short I'm assuming that you have some of my background and what issues I might have - but I will be brief to start:


I feel enormously sad and distressed over my crime and all who I have hurt - including XXX (now my Former Wife) and my Children, Friends and other Family. I just couldn't get enough, I had to have it all and didn't value the most important things I had - my Family and Friends - and mostly - God himself.  It pains me now to hold back from openly crying from the pain I feel.  I feel so alone, so damaged.


The only thing its seems I have left is what is in my locker here at [Federal Prison].  I pray to God for forgiveness for my sins and I feel he has forgiven those sins - but its the stain of those sins that have deeply damaged me so much.  The pain is so much that I cry myself to sleep most every night and wake up several times to pray to God for a better life - another chance to do what is right in his way.  


Right now I'm holding my own - but it scares me if things go bad I may not make it as any health care at [Federal Prison] is poor at best. 

I go to Church (Catholic) here every weekend. We only have a Priest once a month so this bothers me.  Its so cold and I miss a real Church with a real Priest to have Holy communion.  But I try to make the best of it. I have hurt XXX very much - it pains me extremely. I can't even call and talk
with her and hold back the tears and crying.  She is very strong and I think she still loves me. I know she doesn't trust me any more - but I can't blame her at all...  Being divorced has devastated me. Losing that Godly blessing has just about put me over the edge - but I pray she stays with me - somehow...


I am extremely lonely here. I trust no one - especially the staff and other inmates. There are so may guards that are crooked and dishonest its pitiful... There is also so much hate [between] the blacks [and] whites it troubles me a lot!!

That's it for now. XXX

__________

Dear XXX,

...I understand and empathize with your sadness. These are very difficult things but I've gotten through it one day at a time by knowing that God does not want me to spend the rest of my life living in shame and distress. I cannot lie to you, I've been going through this for about 15 years and some days are still very troubling. I had a bout of depression last year that I couldn't really explain.  But mostly, life is better than it's ever been before because I've turned my life and will over to the care of God, lead a purposeful life of service to others, and have allowed love to reenter my life.  For example, I never would have met or married my wife Lynn had I not hit my bottom.

One of the things I came to understand was that in the few years before my bottom, in my case it was disbarment, suicide attempt & arrest, I was actually engaged in self-sabotage. That is, I needed and wanted subconsciously for my old life to end but I had no tools to get out elegantly and with dignity.  I've since met many people who do have the ability to end things that didn't work and start new things without blowing things up. But for the overwhelming amount of men I've helped, it's almost always the same: they were heading toward a tipping point, knew it on some level at least, and just couldn't walk into the bedroom and admit to their wives that they were not the men they thought they were, were not capable of doing the things they thought they could do. So instead of honoring and admitting their struggles, they instead chose to suffer. Choosing suffering over struggling is never a good idea. And here's the craziest thing, in most of these families, the wives would have understood and have been glad to downsize, start over, trade a material world for a more spiritual one; what they really needed and wanted was more time, attention and love. 

So here's the challenge, to now choose struggling over suffering. I suggest that you (and I) live a life of being a power of example: examples to the community, our families, to our children, to our wives or ex-wives, and to God.  Why not? You've got the time, as did I. I started with choosing three goals, one each for mind, body and spirit. And once chosen, to work on each a little bit every single day. For my mind, I learned how to play guitar and took over 200 lessons while inside. I now play a heck of a guitar and have played lead guitar in the church band. For my body, I walked 14,000 laps around the track, 3500 miles the equivalent of walking from NY to LA. And for spirit, I read the Bible and turned to faith, religion and service to others in new and unexpected ways. More on that in a future email.

There are many men who have written about their prison experiences (men like Frankl, Bonhoeffer, Mandela, Dr. King) and all agree that there are two things that we can control in such places of limited control: 1. the ability to control our bodies and attitudes, and 2. the ability to help others.

My prayer for you is to grow, learn and evolve in your prison experience the very best you can. I will help in any way I can.  Please write back with your thoughts and feelings.

Blessings, Jeff 

__________

Jeff,

I read your note and have already started my program as
follows - see what you think...


I knew right away after being here for a few months (and these were some very tough months) I need to keep busy and do things with a purpose.  I also confessed my sins to God and I believe I've been forgiven for those sins - now moving ahead with the help of the Holy Spirit.   

I think I owe most of my aggressive work to my Ex-Wife
XXX.   She is my Angel from God giving me the support and Love to continue my recovery... I still do have some days here being so lonely. I miss my Family and XXX so very much and are excited about restarting my Life with them when I get out of here.  


I worked very hard at my Job for over 35 years - 14 hours + a day... I still miss that job - but paying the price for my crime... It still wakes me up at night where I'm still ready to go back to work and lead my department.

Your Feedback and or comments please.


God Bless you and your efforts Jeff !!
You're in my prayers. XXX

__________
Dear XXX,

I think what you've already undertaken is extraordinary. Here's a cool idea. At our [Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, CT] we have a new Men's Bible and Discussion Group [that will meet every other Monday evening], I'd like you to become a member of it in absentia. Simply, I will email you the scripture portions and you can email me your reflection based upon your experience in prison. For our Monday, February 29th meeting, we are using the readings from the Sunday, March 6th lectionary: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32.  I will email or mail you anything that comes from the group. And I will add you to the men's group roster - what a gift!

I'd like your permission to blog our... emails on our website.  They are very powerful! I think they will help a lot of people.  I will post yours anonymously of course. Please let me know if I have your permission?

Blessings, Jeff  
__________

No problem Jeff - Permission Granted without my name.
I will review the scriptures and look for your mailings...
Thank you, XXX

__________


DONATIONS



We are grateful for all donations to our Ministries that enable us to grow, reach out and serve this community for which there is far too little understanding, compassion and empathy.  Donations can be made by credit card/PayPal here, at the "Donate" button on on our site, prisonist.org or by sending your check payable to: "Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc." P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883. 


Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. is a CT Religious Corp. with 501c3 status -
all donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Thank you for your support and generosity.





If you, a friend or a family member are experiencing a white-collar or nonviolent incarceration issue, please contact us and we will promptly send you an information package by mail, email or via Dropbox.

The darkest days of a person's life can be a 
time of renewal and hope
__________

Progressive Prison Project/
Innocent Spouse & Children Project

Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
jgrant@prisonist.org
(o) 203-769-1096
(m) 203-339-5887
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Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate, Innocent Spouse & Children Project
lspringer@prisonist.org

(203) 536-5508

George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
gbresnan@prisonist.org
(203) 609-5088

Jim Gabal, Development
jgabal@prisonist.org
(203) 858-2865

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