. . . Things I Cannot Change

I visit a man in “Seg.” (as in Segregation) Aka “The Hole” or “Solitary Confinement.” (Once, on the phone, while making the required appointment to visit this man, I’d carelessly used the word “Isolation” and was quickly and firmly corrected.)  Whatever its label, putting a human being in a tiny room all alone for long […]

Speaking Truth—or Redemption—to Power?

In March, at the request of X, a Massachusetts inmate I have been writing to for the past three years, I send the letter excerpted here to the Parole Board:  . . . A member of my [Quaker] meeting’s Prison Fellowship Committee, I’d learned through people connected with our prison ministry that X would appreciate […]

What Does Freedom Taste Like?

[Sweet-yet-tart red, salt-in-the-wound white, and so, so blue, July 3, 2017] In a couple of hours, people will gather on Boston Common to take turns reading aloud “The Meaning of July Fourth for The Negro,” the deeply moving speech Frederick Douglass gave on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York. At this heart-breaking and fraught time […]

Whatever Works

  When I learned that Nelson Mandela had found great strength in Invictus, I made copies of that William Ernest Henley poem and mailed them to two men I correspond with, currently behind bars. Nice gesture, right?  But pointless. I see that now. Somehow, mysteriously,  a Victorian, “stiff upper lip,” Brit poem (i.e. language of […]

“Something Close to Love”

What I love about this picture: it perfectly illustrates its accompanying excerpt from WellingUp.net. Check it out! (Keywords: Prison, Light, Green/Exercise Yard) What else I want to say this picture: Those rusted bars only hint at the horrors of incarceration. But my intention for using this dangerously-close-to-prettifying photograph is to illustrate a prison conversion story—I am […]

The View from Here

Saturday night, the Cambridge Bail and Legal Defense Fund hosted its first-evah silent auction. A needed, organic offshoot of Friends Meeting at Cambridge’s Prison Fellowship Committee’s ministry, the Fund supports those in need—with an additional, deal-breaking criteria:  People on Prison Fellowship must know these potential recipients.  People who come to our Wednesday night sharing circle—another […]

Cops as Case Workers?

  Last Thursday, I “showed up”* at the Cambridge Police Department to attend a strange (and potentially wonderful) meeting. The cities of Somerville, Cambridge and Everett, funded by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, plan to “reduce crime and improve safety . . . through a coordinated and sustainable intelligence-driven model that identifies […]