Thursday, April 13, 2006

From a letter received from John F.


"I guess it's probably hard to imagine being in seg[regation] and being so busy I have to rush through each of my responsibilities to get everything done by the end of the day. I could choose to lay down all day and submit, or use this place as an excuse why I don't have to do anything. But that's weak, for me anyway. I guess if you don't do anything while you're out in population and then come to the hole, it's ok to continue doing nothing. But I have to be busy constantly. Otherwise I feel like I'm wasting precious time. And as far as I'm concerned, every second I'm alive is precious time.

So I need to be doing something constructive just to honor life. It's a self-discipline thing I'm hooked on. This guy named Bernard Baruch once said, "In the final analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves." And that concept is just really easy for me to apply to segregation. It's been my absolute belief that freedom has so many different definitions it can't possibly be a physical place, but rather more of a frame of mind or a way of life.

It's what makes you happy. And it's what makes you feel best about yourself. Most people I know in prison get depressed because, understandably, they compare their lives and their freedoms to the lives and freedoms of people on the street who are doing well, driving nice cars, making lots of money, and spending time on their sail boats with girls named Buffy and Candi. I compare my life to the lives of the homeless, the paralyzed, and kids in Third World countries like Sudan and Sierra Leone and Haiti where 28% of kids under 5 years old die of starvation. While those people are not surrounded by razor wire and guard towers they're all in their own prisons just the same. And now I'm able to appreciate my life, my health, my many blessings, and thank God every day for all I have AND the really disadvantaged people of the world give the rest of us a purpose, a reason to feel good about ourselves. And it is another one of my absolute beliefs that we all have a responsibility to end such incredibly unnecessary things as homelessness, hunger and abuse.

Nelson Mandella, one of my heroes, said, "To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. "How do we do that by allowing 6% of the population in Massachusetts (not some Third World country) to live in extreme poverty? It's absolutely unacceptable. No one can ever be a person of honor or value unless they're doing something to improve the quality of life of another person. And you don't have to be on the streets to make a difference in someone else's life.

And on that note, I have to go. But I'd just like to make one brief observation/request before I do. Ya know what would be nice? If we could arrange some type of pen-pal system that would allow us to write to the elderly in nursing homes who don't have anyone to visit or write them and/or physically or mentally handicapped kids who are confined in area long term facilities/chronic care, things of that nature. What if we could make cards or raise money to buy certain individuals birthday or Christmas gifts? Most of those people really don't have anyone to remember their birthdays. I think it would be kind of special if we could do something that would make a difference. Just a thought."

Note: John has completed 21 years of 2 consecutive life sentences for a crime for which he was wrongfully convicted. He maintains hope that he will be exonerated some day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


On behalf of the Massachusetts Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition (SHaRC), welcome to our blog.