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Sunday, July 17, 2011

His Story...

I thought I'd share a little bit more about "his story".  You see, KC isn't exactly your "normal" inmate.  He's been labeled by the prison system he was in as "the worst of the worst" and spent a decade in solitary confinement.  Yes, that's right.  A decade.  As I said earlier in this blog, his worst crimes were not committed out here in the free world, but rather behind prison walls.  His story is long, but the bottom line is this.  When he went into the DOC in the state he was in, he didn't know how to maneuver the "politics of prison".  And for those people who don't have to be close enough to the prison system to know that prison politics is very real, and it's high stakes, to say the least.  He was a kid when he went in, and he was on a self destructive path.  A recipe for disaster.  He engaged in numerous fights, one of his assaults was enough to yield an additional three year sentence.  Another one of his actions resulted in an additional ten year prison sentence.  That crime resulted in someone losing their life.  While KC did not murder an inmate, he did have a part in that inmate losing his life.  That crime sealed his fate with the DOC.  This was the main reason the DOC vowed never to let him into a general population setting again.  And while my heart is saddened, beyond words, for the loss of that man's life, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about his family, I do see the distinction that KC was not the main person responsible for that man's death.  KC never laid a hand on the inmate.  He did what he did for selfish reasons.  But to be told by the DOC that no matter what you do from here on out, you'll never get out of solitary is a breach of what the purpose of solitary is.  Solitary confinement is not a weapon of revenge for the Department of Corrections, or I should say, it's not supposed to be.  It's a tool, a resource, to safeguard other inmates and staff from dangerous inmates.  To be given an indeterminate sentence of solitary defies the logic behind it.  It's a tool that should be used sparingly, and for as short of an amount of time as necessary.

That's the short story of how KC landed into solitary.  And once he got to solitary, his heart and mind grew more restless and dark.  He did not get anymore charges, but he tells me of where his mind was at for the first 3 years in solitary.  He had violent dreams of killing people, and of wanting to be killed.  Until one night.  He tells me of one night that he dropped to his knees and prayed to God to end his life, end his suffering, or to restore his soul.  He felt he had no soul.  He said over the next few weeks, he continued to pray, and ask only that of God.  He said that slowly, but noticeably, his attitude started to change.  He was filled with complete rage before.  And the rage seemed to subside a little with each passing day, until he noticed he was much more at peace after a few weeks, and then months.  He started to acknowledge the things he had in his life, and feeling gratitude for them.  He continued on that path and to this day, still is.  He hasn't associated himself with any particular religion or faith, but rather as he puts it "I believe in God, and I talk to him every day.  I tell him what I am thankful for, and I ask him to watch over the people I love and forgive me for the awful things I have done in my life."  He said after several years, he felt like an entirely new man.  He felt worthy of love for the first time in his life.  He said that he felt like a good person.  And truly, if someone is able to look at who he is now, and not prejudge based on his past, then most would see that he is a good person.  I remember when I first saw his story on the prison outreach website.  I immediately went to the DOC web page and looked him up.  The web page shows all of his sentences and crimes, and also all of the disciplinary infractions he has received since being in prison.  He had quite a few infractions for the first 5 years he was in prison.  And then they just stop.  Not one infraction in ten years.  I knew nothing of the prison system when I reached out and started writing to him, but I knew that "meant something".  And indeed, it did.  That was the point in his life that he began reaching out to God, and establishing a relationship with God.  Now, years after his soul searching and relationship with God, his life, soul, heart and mind are truly, and in my/his opinion permanently, transformed. 

The effects of solitary confinement are horrific.  Luckily, KC seems to have been able to hold at bay the many mental disorders associated with long term confinement.  Although he has become a product of his environment in that he is extremely introverted, and wants only myself and his Mom in his life.  I've tried having friends write to him, in hopes that he will develop some more friendships, and attempted to gently encourage him to make friends with people he is in prison with.  He wants nothing to do with any of my suggestions.  He just wants me.  I will always continue to try to have others reach out to him, and him do the same.  Perhaps one day he'll make a new friend.  But until then, I'm just happy that he has been able to keep his sanity, and his faith in God through some of the most trying times.  I have now been down to where he is to visit him four times, about every six months.  We continue to develop an ever strengthening bond.  I sit in front of this man with a joyful heart.  I am happy to be his future wife.  I can only imagine how that would look to an outsider looking in.  What most people see is "the worst of the worst".  What do I see?  A man who's heart turned to stone, and who's soul was almost entirely gone.  I see a man who started his life out way before the start line.  Most of us, including me, are fortunate enough to start life at the starting line.  We're born to good, god fearing, hard working parents, who raise us with discipline and love.  Now his parents seem like truly good people.  But I do know that by the time KC was 12 he was already in trouble with the law.  By the time he was 20 he had his first 5 year prison sentence.  Things went down from there.  So, what I see is a man who had to fight, literally for his life, to get to the start line, that we all take for granted.  I have told him many times that he has accomplished more in his life than I have with mine.  Oh, I'm sure many would disagree with that, to most I look to be successful.  And if material things define success, then under that definition I am successful and he is not.  I am well educated, have a high paying career that I love, own my own home...etc.  But only after getting to know KC do I realize these material things are not what defines a human being.  He is the most successful man that I have ever met because he has restored his heart, soul and mind.  Although if you ask him he would tell you that God had just as much to do with it as he did.  I challenge everyone to truly evaluate what makes a person "good" and "successful". 

This entry just scratches the surface of "his story".  His story has changed considerably in the last month.  He is no longer in solitary confinement.  Due to a complicated sentencing structure he recently sued (and won) for his out of state transfer.  Is it a victory?  Partly, yes.  We got him out of solitary, and the state DOC he was in.  Now he has a chance at a fresh start.  He's at the reception center in a new state awaiting to be classified.  He has been going to meals with other inmates now for several weeks, his first time in a decade and he is enjoying being in a less solitary environment.  This is all good news.  Although eventually he will have to go back to the state he was in.  And part of the reason why I don't consider this a victory is because we didn't accomplish anything with the DOC's mentality on solitary confinement.  He has told me to let that go and "let's move on".  But I can't.  I am very passionate about the overuse of solitary by DOC's in this country.  Because I have had to experience them, with KC first hand.  (As close to first hand without being in prison)  I'll blog more about solitary later, right now I am trying to enjoy the good news of his new start.

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