I write to a woman in prison. She’s been there for a very long time. She has been a good prisoner. She’s tried appealing to the parole board without success. And she is tired of it all. She is in good physical health. What does she have to look forward to? More of the same…and she knows it.
How does one try to lighten the load for someone like that? What hope, what encouragement, can we give her? It seems like such a shame, and such a waste of talent and ability. This woman doesn’t need rehabilitation (not that she would receive it, anyway). She holds down a job, tries to be as productive as she can be within her setting, and strives to be a good person. What she needs is to be able to develop her talents and to become a productive member of society!
I’m not sure I believe in life imprisonment. Oh, certainly there are some individuals we should keep out of society, but I think people can change. I believe people grow, even in prison. The stark contrast of prison life with a life of freedom must certainly be shocking. Indeed, a period of anger and resentment might be a necessary experience for some. But Michigan has hung on to its prisoners for far too long. Michigan seems content to be a festering warehouse for individuals who have lost hope.
I believe this woman has a gift. If she has not yet found it, she will. I believe that, even within prison, good can come from her very presence there and that she can thrive. Yes, I believe she has a purpose. Still…it would help if she believed that herself.