Forgiveness

I'm 44-years old and I have been incarcerated over two decades for 2nd degree murder. Today my 25-year old son Kristopher Jr. lives in Battle Creek Michigan with his soon to be wife and their three children (Charlotte, JB, and Tyler). While in prison my mother, father, and brother have all passed away making my son and grandchildren the only family I have left in this world. I spend most of everyday thinking about them, and doing everything I can to earn a chance to be a part of their lives. As a young man I did not deserve to have freedom, I was out of control, reckless, and my ignorance led to me taking John's life. I have never regretted anything more in my life, than being apart of that horrible and tragic mistake. Not because I was sent to prison, but because of all the pain and suffering I have caused. Understanding the fact that I played a significant role in taking a life that I cannot give back or replace has weighed heavy on my heart and soul. I pray for God's forgiveness...


That is what receiving good time would mean for me, God's forgiveness in action. I would see it as God granting me a second chance, and an opportunity to do right by Him and atone for the life I took. For me it would mean that the people in our community believe that I am not a worthless excuse for a human being, and believe that there are those of us who are worth taking a second chance on. It would mean that I have a chance to be a father and grandfather. It would mean that I have the chance to be a part of the solution and not the problem by being a positive productive member of society. It would mean that I would have the opportunity to use the skills and education I have worked tirelessly to obtain during my incarceration in order to prove myself worthy. For example, I am an accomplished carpenter, tutor and mentor, with a vast amount of accomplishments over these many years. I've been in the dog program, I've facilitated and mentored the youthful offenders, I have taken several workshops and classes in small business, anger management, practical money management, and cognitive restructuring. I have earned an Associate degree in Christian Ministry and Theology from Vision International. I am currently in Calvin Universities CPI program and I will be receiving my second Associate degree in Community Leadership and Social Work this April where I will continue on, to getting my bachelor's degree in 2024. I have done so much more during my incarceration, I just don't have room to list them all in this email. My point is that good time for me would validate that I am not worthless and although I did in fact make a life altering mistake there can be forgiveness and second chance through hard work, determination, and good behavior.


There are many pathways a person can go down in prison. However, it is important to understand that doing the right thing is not the popular pathway to take. Doing the right thing in prison is not the easy way out, in fact it is the most difficult and can sometimes even be dangerous. There are prisoners who look down on those of us who are doing the right thing, and they label us as snitches, rats, and other things I don't care to spell out. To do the right thing in here is to set yourself apart from the social norms of prison. It has been my experience that most people believe that because we are in prison good behavior is enforced on us so it cannot be used as a means to measure. When the reality is the complete opposite.


in closing let me tell you a short story. Years ago I had an officer say to me "I am always fair-because I treat all prisoners the same". Although this officer believed that he was fair by treating everyone the same. I couldn't help but wonder how he could believe such a thing so whole hearted. So I politely asked him, "how can you justify treating me like a knuckle head when I don't call you out of your name, I don't pray on the week, I'm not scamming and conniving others, I don't cut the lines, I'm not doing drugs or hanging out with those who do, I'm not in the gangs hurting people, I don't get tickets and go to segregation all the time. Instead I show up for work on time, I comply with the rules and follow orders, I mind my own business, go to school, and volunteer where I can-- and so do you honestly believe that treating me the same as you treat them is fair?" The officer never answered my question but overtime I did notice that he did not treat me the same as he once had. Now I pose that same question to you, should those of us who do the right thing get treated in the same manner as those who don't???

Thank you for listening...

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