My son is in prison and will be probably the rest of his life. It tears my guts out to think that and hope springs eternal. I hope and pray everyday that I am wrong. If he turns around it will be a miracle. He started out in boy’s school and graduated to drug rehabilitation, and then on to prison. Each time the crime was more serious, the time was longer and the time between stints were shorter. He is now 37 years old. He has been a white Supremisist, because he wanted to survive. You are not really given much of a choice. He is not in for murder, thank God, but for drugs, alcohol, violation of probation, etc. The last crime was a desire to go back to where he knew how to survive. He doesn’t know how to live on the outside anymore. He also has not been able to stay away from the drugs and alcohol. He tries, or says he does and he still can con me easily because I love him and it breaks my heart not to.
I was married to his father for 15 years. We were both products of insane families. Our desire was to create a happy healthy family because we didn’t have one’s of our own. I turned 19 and my ex-husband turned 18 and I was already pregnant when we got married. We both came from abusive, alcoholic, divorced families. We really tried with the very limited ability that we had. I didn’t drink when I was pregnant and not much afterwards. We had 3 children and Richard was in the middle. He was also named after his father.
Back then if you did not spank your children you were not disciplining them. I did spank my sons. My daughter really needed any discipline. She was the lost, quiet child. When all hell broke loose she went in her room and played with her dolls. My older son was very quiet and was the good son. The second son was the wild , rebellious, deliquent one. He was also the one who took his fathers leaving the hardest. He blamed himself. The last three years before the divorce was living hell. There were police visits, abuse, threats, drinking and terror. I had quit drinking 3 years before. I have to say that I really didn’t get drunk. I can’t say I never got drunk. I did when we went out and when we had neighborhood parties. I kept a buzz on. My ex got roaring drunk and abusive.
My son followed in his father’s footsteps and threatened to kill us. He was violent and terrifying. He was repeatedly kicked out of school and on probation. I had a family that blamed me and told my son that he didn’t have to listen to me I was a bitch and crazy. This is my family who horribly abused me and disrespected me. I of course had my ex-husband telling him and my other kids the same thing. I had been going to Alanon and then AA and that was the final straw. When he saw that I was not going to go back to drinking with him he decided he was leaving. He found someone else to drink and drug with him. It broke my children’s hearts when he moved in with a young woman only 21 years of age with two little boys. They felt like they had been replaced.
My son who was already so damaged and battle-scarred by the drinking, abuse and grief became more and more dangerous. He was finally sent to boy’s school. I won’t go into the hell that was for me. My daughter and other son were just glad to have a little peace. Me I felt like my heart had been ripped out. I will never forget the day that his probation officer and I drove him to White’s Institute. He had been threatened by the court for so long that he didn’t believe that anything was going to happen to him. The irony of the whole thing was that the day we had to take him was on April Fool’s Day. I kept thinking that he was thinking, “Ha, Ha! Fooled ya!
I came home that night and there is no way I can describe the grief that I felt. I had been separated and divorced for 3 years, and was getting remarried to my husband now in another month. I wanted to be happy. I wanted my children to have a stable father and home and yet my baby was gone. I asked God for some kind of sign, anything to make me believe that this was not all just some kind of collosal joke. That He really did have some kind of plan in store. I had prayed for so long and this felt like the biggest gut punch of all. I had asked God to repair my marriage and save my family and instead my marriage was over, and my son was taken away to boy’s school.
I had planted apple trees and a pear tree in the back yard but could not afford to take care of them. I could afford to have them sprayed or pruned. I had an apple tree that had wormy small apples on it and another small tree that had nothing on it. I was standing looking out the back door in more misery than I can ever describe and I saw something on the little tree. I walked out and the closer I got the more I could see something hanging in the top of this little 10 foot tree. It was a big golden apple without one blemish or worm hole in it. To me it felt like God was telling me. “Trust me, I can do anything. In my own time.”
I had my other two kids come out and see the apple and we took it in the house and washed it and shared it. I can’t say that things got better in the way I wanted, but it gave me a little hope to cling on to. Things did get better for me and my new husband together. We have had many mountains to climb. Our lives are good today but my biggest grief is still my son in prison.
When he came home from boy’s school, it didn’t take long for him to go to drug treatment. It also didn’t take long for him to get back on the drugs. There are many stories that I could go into but that will be for another time. We finally had to let him go. We told him he could not live with us and drink or use drugs. When he overdosed it was obvious that he was using. When I told him he had to go after he punched a hole in the door I collapsed on the floor and howled like a wounded animal. I screamed that I was afraid if I let him go that he would die.
He came to me and held me and said “Mom I will be all right, don’t cry.”
I held him and told him I loved him and I had to let him go. It still tears my heart out to think of it. He went to live with his dad and grandfather. His father was still drinking but his grandfather was a recovering alcoholic. Unfortunately he was a hopeless enabler. He became abusive to his grandfather and violated probation and took off to Las Vegas. He was finally caught and brought back to jail.
He called me the night he arrived at Branchville Training. (What a joke that is, training for what?) He was terrified. He went into the bathroom and saw a guy shanked from belly to breastbone. He was convulsing and bleeding to death on the bathroom floor and there wasn’t a f*n thing I could do about it. This is just a particle of the experiences that he and I had with this prison life.
I don’t know where this is leading but to tell you why I don’t believe that prison works. Prison is at least as corrupt as the outside. If you want drugs or how to learn to con and commit crimes, just go to prison. Society asks why criminals or, inmates don’t learn. Why do they keep going back? BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO LIVE ON THE OUTSIDE! Prison is an society. It is a multi-billion dollar industry. It pays to have people in prison. They have no desire to rehabilitate people. If someone comes out and makes it on the outside, it is a miracle.
In AA there is a saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If you notice, prison doesn’t work. Yet we are building more and more prisons and jails and housing more and more inmates but we are not improving how we try to rehabilitate them. Abuse, torture, humiliation and degradation do not work. I guess they haven’t figured that out yet. Actually I think maybe they have. But many of the guards and authority figures love to abuse and degrade, so they don’t care if it works. That is not their goal.
There has to be a better way. There are people who are working on changing the system. I don’t know where to begin, but one thing I can do is to tell you what it is really like at least through my son’s eyes. I was told by someone who was trying to help a man on death row that in most prisons when a new inmate comes in a guard will pick the biggest baddest inmate to rape the new guy to keep him in line. I know that is true.
Another young man that I know personally was in prison, and he witnessed a young guy get orally raped by a gang. They broke his jaw open and raped him. He was hauled away and I cannot imagine the horror and fear that my young friend felt. I do not what happened to him later.
Young boys need a good father figure and when they don’t get it they get in trouble. You don’t want them to go to prison or jail. It is not good for anyone. Our society is rapidly eroding and it is frightening to me to see how morals are decaying. Families are collapsing. Anything goes. Role models are pathetic, drug addicted celebrities. When I grew up there was alcohol and a little marijuana, now there is meth, heroin, and God knows what to get addicted to. These drugs are even worse.
I don’t know. Sometimes it all just seems hopeless. I can only hope and pray that things turn around. There is a lot of good in the world and people are hopefully becoming more aware of the problems and can find solutions. I just hope that it is not too late. I know that it begins with healthy families and unfortunately many of us don’t know how to have them. I thank God that we finally found our way and hopefully we are good example now and we got to have a second chance with our son.
I have a good relationship with my son in prison now. I love him and he tells me he loves me more than anyone in the whole world and I believe he does. My dream is for him to be able to come out of prison and function in a normal healthy way. I would love him to have a loving relationship and children. The chances of that are very slim but one can only pray and dream.