Through volunteering with the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project, I met a man named Shannon Clark who is incarcerated in a state prison in Arizona. I found out that he kept a blog about his life and eventually came to post his writing on the internet for him. He sends me the handwritten posts and I put them on the Internet.
I really enjoy his writing and I feel like it’s made me rethink my idea of prisoners and prison life a lot. I guess reading his posts made me realize that even something as extreme as being incarcerated in this country doesn’t mean that you lose your sense of self, perspective of the world, capacity for compassion or humanity entirely. It also reminds me that even with the violence and brutality that comes to mind when we think of prisons, there also exist narratives of community or friendship or just people interacting with each other as people.
I just posted these two new posts tonight. You can read more at Shannon’s blog, Persevering Prison Pages:
The War on Terror
terrorist n. person who uses violent methods of coercing a government or community. (THE OXFORD AMERICAN DESK DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS, 2ND ED.)
Hmmm…. I’d love to comment further but Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is too far from Arizona. You never truly know what’ll happen in this indefinite “state of war” we’re in. Maybe Bush should assert his “Executive Powers” in wiretapping and spying on his own family.
Possibly then he’d be able to gain control over that foreign nation. Yeah, I know it was a cheap shot, but it was oh-so easy … lol.
Breakfast with Bill: A Sinister Plan
“Mornin’, Bill.” I greeted a soft spoken, friendly prisoner I’ve been eating meals with the past month. “Mornin'” He responded, with a warm smile on his country-boy face. “How’s the pancakes?” I asked. “Not too bad. I’ve had better though.” He answered.
“Where are you from, Bill?” I curiously asked. “Oklahoma, but I’ve lived in Arizona and California mainly.” “36 years locked-up here in Arizona.” He continued. “Damn, 36 years!” I was shocked and a bit disbelieving, after all, Bill doesn’t look much older than 45 or 50. “How old are you, Bill?” “I’ll be 61 February 12, 2006.” Coincidently, I’ll be 32 February 11, 20006. – Look out, two Aquarius prisoners …
“What were you convicted of?” I asked. “First Degree Murder. I got a Life Sentence. I’ve been locked up since January 1970.” “That’s a long time, Bill. I bet you’ve seen so much change in the prison system over the years.” “Yeah, but not all for the better. Sure, it’s less violent in here and a little safer, but we’ve lost nearly all of our privileges and creature comforts and the system has become more of a business.” “I still hope that I will be paroled some day. With a place to go, work and a plan, I can be paroled still.” “Do you have family out there?” I asked him. “No, They are all gone now. I had a lady friend who would write and visit but that was a long time ago.”
A sinister though entered my head. “What are your likes?” “Well, let me think… I like sports… reading… learning new things… That’s all I can think of at the moment. Why?” He responded. “You’ll see.” I answered with a smile.
If anybody out there reading this wants a pen pal, a friend or would like to send Bill an encouraging word or holiday card please write: Bill Sturgis #34395 ASPC-Tucson-Santa Rita, P.O. Box 24406, 10012 S. Wilmot Rd., Tucson Arizona 85734-4406.