Now being known as Inmate #10-282 meaning the 282nd arrest for the year 2010, I was going to be housed in my roughly 8×10 cell, single-man, which I was grateful because in other facilities I had an opportunity to visit, this space will most likely be shared with another due to overcrowding. Having read my other book, “If You Send Me, I Will Go” you will come to understand living in this state which most consider punishing, I tend to thrive! I have found grace being enabled to use the time effectively, just me and my God, communicating without the distraction others need by books, etc.
It would be a further joy although unable to see the setting sun from my cell, but to be able to determine when my first complete day would begin with the Sabbath, and while standing in front of my window, instead of allowing what I encountered being arrested in Puerto Rico, several years before, filled with wondering, stressed by anxiety and not knowing, acknowledging God had asked me two weeks prior, “Would you be willing to return to prison, for Me?” I could stand there confirming, what I agreed to do, with tears running down my face, and sing aloud, something I had stopped doing in church, “I Serve a Risen Savior, He Lives Within My Heart”, and later that evening knowing there would be nothing I could do but further submit to His will, I rested and fell into a comfortable sleep.
Tuesday morning I was called to go to court and when I got there my former attorney, David Martin, who would be handling my case, was not in the court. When my name was called I stood shackled in front of the judge with someone I did not know representing me and I knew full well, there could be nothing he’d say, as well as someone from the Prosecutor’s office but not the foe I expected, the judge chastising them both for having me there but neither knowing the status of my case. The judge apologized to me and said I’d be given a second call to return in the afternoon.
When I was returned, my attorney was now present and briefly explained to me in order to facilitate the proceedings, I could waive my rights in the Preliminary Hearing, and accept the Prosecutor’s offer of six months in jail with five years’ probation! Already things were moving too fast for me. Thankfully, my attorney advised correctly to refuse the offer because he believed he could obtain a better deal. Having watched, “Law & Order” on television, and my own little experience in legal matters, one knows never to accept the first offer because the second is generally better. I was sent back to jail and within a week returned to court and learned my case was leaving the city’s jurisdiction and now being handled in the county Supreme Court, which I really did not want to hear and a Grand Jury indictment would now be sought!
In time, I had a visit with my attorney so we could discuss the case more fully and strategy we would use. I learned the Prosecutor would not make a better offer and was going to prosecute me for my website. I made it clear to my attorney it did not matter to me what any sentence would mean if it carried any form of probation or parole. I explained to him I would violate it immediately and would rather max out on any jail sentence imposed because I did not want to live my life under someone’s thumb being restricted where I went, how I would live, and in most cases, being labeled a sex offender, I could be ordered to not have access to the Internet, virtually shutting down my website and any future opportunities to speak because I would be given a curfew and limited in being able to travel out of the county, never mind the state. My life would be under someone else’s rule and as I drew closer to any resolve in terms of time, say if given a five year probation, it would never end early due to how sex offenders are treated, and the probation restrictions are worse, and why would I want to have an unforeseen problem in the later years with the probability of being sanctioned and have to be returned to prison? I’d just rather stay right there until they would have to let me go—completely and freely.
My attorney listened and could sympathize with me but I kept hearing what I did not want to hear, and that was the Prosecutor was holding all the strings, and we’d have to see what they would do and then make a move. I began listening to other inmates as well as the correction officers who transported us back and forth from the court to jail and they had no kind word to say about my attorney and although we did not win the level determination five years prior, I was comfortable with him knowing me, my case and would step up to the plate and strike a home-run this time at bat.
While not thinking about my case, now having moved into a unit where thirteen other men were housed, I busied myself beginning to do some writing for what I would later publish on my website. I was particularly pleased with an eBook I will publish called, “Sex Offender: The New Nigger” to show how sex offenders are treated very much like the Blacks in this country prior to the 60’s segregation. Today, a new group are told where they live, work and worship. Families are destroyed because a parent or even a minor child who carried such a conviction is not able to live under the same roof the rest of the family due to being within so many feet in proximity to a school, library, or for God’s sake, a church! Some men and women are relegated to living under bridges, placed there by their probation officer for fear of being imprisoned again, and in this time of terrible economy due to the worst recession in history, people who’ve never had a police record are faced with high unemployment rates, losing homes, cars, divorce rising, what could be expected for those with convictions, never mind those labeled, “sex offenders”, with an officer checking their whereabouts! For me, this was personal. It was a war and from the time I woke up in that Georgia dilapidated motel room and saw my blood staining the bed sheets and pillow, it has been personal. I am at war with the system and even at the expense of my freedom and even life, in a war one must expect casualties!
I never saw myself as some revolutionary leader. I don’t see myself as some new millennium Nelson Mandala, or Martin Luther King, but someone needs to take a stand to fight for the rights of those who are fearful to do it for themselves for fear of being sent back to jail, or prison, where those known as, “sex offenders” are often mistreated, sometimes killed, or placed in solitary confinement for their own safety! Perhaps this was, rather, has become my mission in life. If it is, I would have to learn how to stand, and this would be one of the most difficult lessons God would have to take me through.
As before in my other jail or prison experiences, God would use me for ministry. Whether it would be conducting services at a table for those so inclined, or one-on-one in front of my cell-door, or even just the dropping a word of encouragement or offering prayer, God has always found a place for me wherever He has brought me within the walls of confinement. Men’s lives will never be challenged to change unless some of us are willing to go where they are. I began seeing this journey no different than those missionaries who are sent to mission fields where their own movements are restricted, where language may be one of several barriers to be broken, where a commitment to stay has to be greater than the will to leave and return to comfortable surroundings. My being here is no different than the young man who signs an agreement to join the armed forces for a stated period of time who is to be discharged honorably if he desired it would be a career for him. There are many men, and women, who have made jail/prison a career and will not attend services when they are held, because as one inmate said, “I did not go to church when I was on the street, why should I go now?” but it is that same inmate I can sit across from, over a game of Gin or Scrabble, and I am able to drop nuggets of truth, as I am making two moves at once. Or, a Russian jet fighter now turned bank robber given an 18 years to life sentence, which is a death sentence at the advanced age of 60, who admits not having faith, who I can reach because we share cells next to each other. Or, an inmate who recognizes me from a church on the outside, whose family I knew some time ago, who I challenged openly by telling those attending a Bible study they wanted me to take over, that there is a man who could have done it, and he knew within himself knowing all I have ever been taught, sitting in the same pews I once sat! This is true, “prison ministry” and not the once a week hour visit from someone on the outside, and when it is over they go home and I’ll see you next week! No. I bunk with them. I eat with them. I live with them and can be a more personal experience for them, because God has designated this so!
Going through this experience and being more experienced now in my fifties, I take my opportunity being here very seriously. God brought me and simply used the law to arrange my stay whenever He’s wanted to reach a man with a particular message, which only I can give him, and consequently the message is put within my soul, “Can you be content with this?” I’m learning what it is to put my trust in God when everything else is taken away. I cannot worry about job, laptop, cell phone, friends or even family. God has and is requiring me to sacrifice all my dreams, desires and goals to lay it all down for the sake of others. He pronounced so soundly in my mind’s ear, “If I am able to give other’s lives for you, can you give your life for others?” What other possible answer could I give other than, “Yes, Lord.” I have to trust You in this.
I know one day, whether it will be a miraculous Peter experience when the gates will open on their own, or whether it be a Joseph experience where I’m elevated from the prison for a service, that the place where I occupy now, is a place where great men have existed long before me. It might and could be a John the Baptist experience where my life might be required, but again the question is asked, “Can you give your life for others?” The answer is quite emphatically, “Yes, Lord, I will.”