Behind Prison Doors

April 18, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

As you walk up to the prison gate you take a deep breath and say a prayer. You push the button and a voice asks who you are. Once you say your name, you hear a sound indicating that the gate is open.  You close the gate behind you and make sure it latches, walk to the next gate and wait for the sound, then you do the same thing again. You walk through the walkway surrounded by fences on the way to the door.

Once you are inside you sign in. The only thing you take in with you is your ID and the keys to your vehicle and your license plate number. You walk through a metal detector, you show the whites of your pockets, the top of your socks, bottom of your shoes, they use a wand to check the inside of your hands for potential drugs and you fill out a form that you take with you. You turn in your keys for a token and you sit and wait.  It was the same routine for everyone else coming in to visit. But today was not the same as any other visiting day.

Today was a special day. The inmates had a banquet for their families. The Fathers Behind Bars formed a group and they raise funds, within the prison walls, to pay for the food for this banquet for their families. They give of the money they make. Some make $.70 an hour some more, some less. Their $1.00 is worth lots more than ours who are on the outside.

Today they prepare a meal for us who come to visit. Today we leave our baggie of quarters behind. Today they can walk around and not be confined to the chair at the visiting table. Today they are smiling, joking, serving and enjoying their company.

It brought a smile to my heart to see these men enjoying making a meal and serving us. They were respectful and courteous. They were joyful to have a special day to give back. They had fun serving us. They enjoyed a special meal too for all their hard work. It took many months to bring this day to fruition. Many obstacles presented themselves as they tried to prepare for this day that kept getting postponed since before Christmas. Today it came to be.

They cooked up some burgers and hot dogs with all the trimmings, yes, including green chili. The best burger I have eaten in a long time! Good job! For desert, yum, Ice cream Sundays with all the fixings.

Thank you! Your hard work is truly appreciated. God bless you.

There are over 500 prisoners in this facility. There were about 20 who participated in the program today. There were a handful of families there to support them. I can’t imagine what it is like to be locked up all day.

As these men said, “we try to teach our children to be good people and to not make the same mistakes we have made.” So they try to give back to the community. They have given $ for scholarships for high school students. They have made things for their children. Some of them also participate in Fathers as Readers program where they read and record story books and send them to their children so their children can hear them read the stories to them.

All of us make bad decisions at one time or another. Sometimes making bad decisions that don’t seem to affect anyone, until they get out of control and something goes seriously wrong which leads some of us to make some huge mistakes that can’t be erased. We all have to live with the consequences of our actions one way or another. We can’t undo the past. All we can do is realize where it has brought us and decide what we are going to do today, ask God for forgiveness and for help to forgive ourselves, and carry on. We can continue to make bad decisions or we can decide to make better people of ourselves. We can learn to respect others and ourselves, regardless of where we are.

Some of us are fortunate that we are not behind locked doors. We have choices they don’t. We can choose to ignore that they are there or we can make an effort to show them that we care.  They are human beings like you and I. They made some mistakes. These men are trying to make the best of their situations and give back what they can.

Thank you. Thank you for not giving up and for that fighting spirit that was shining through today. Thank you for sharing that part of you that few get the privilege of seeing. That was the true BANQUET today. Keep up the good work. Know that I for one will be praying for you every day and every time I go to Mass. God Bless you.


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