Jail Book Group

July 8th, 2008  |  Published in Pages to Prisoners

I’m trying to be better about posting what I’ve been doing lately.  Last night, the book group I’m facilitating through Pages and New Leaf New Life in the “therapeutic” block of the local jail met for the second time and we picked the book that we’re going to read, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  We did a rough vote and there wasn’t an overwhelming consensus so I’m going to bring in a few copies of the other books that I brought up as options including Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, and The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman.

Doing the group is challenging.  Some people are extroverted and seem to love to talk about themselves and their experiences.  Some are the exact opposite.  I feel like we’re also fighting the difficult dynamic of being a “group” amidst a lot of other mandatory groups that the men have to go through all day.  I think, at the end of the day, some just aren’t feeling another group.  People in the block are respectful and quiet, but the whole jail is noisy.  There are lots of interruptions like meds and the church group that comes in to provide worship services without notices.  I’m still getting my balance as a facilitator and trying to make it more clear why I’m there and what I’m doing and try to get past the reasonable distrust that some of the guys have for people like me.

In spite of all the challenges, we had a short discussion about a piece of writing titled The Best Time in My Life and many shared a memory or description of places and eras that they had seen pass.  For some it was rock quarries in southern Indiana, for another being towed around on an old car hood in his tiny hometown, and for another it was the closure of a vital youth center in his Chicago neighborhood.