This Post Is For Those Who Have Incarcerated Loved Ones

Prison is hard…blah blah blah. You have heard it all already. How many out you have family or loved ones that are in prison and you will not contact them? What’s the point of prison? Is it to lock away and forget? Is it just so the victims feel better? To clean out the streets? Then what? 
I want to speak to those that feel that because a man or woman is in prison he/she should be completely isolated and doesn’t deserve your contact. I know a man in here, his name is Gary. Gary has changed my life. He is serving a very long time and will probably not get out unless the law changes. But that doesn’t stop him from making some serious changes in his life and the lives of everyone he comes in contact with. When Gary came to prison his family completely disowned him. He has been incarcerated for twenty years almost. He hasn’t gotten a single letter from anyone that once loved him. What I like most about him is that he stays ready to apologize. He gets up in the morning with the hope that a letter might arrive to give him the chance to say “I love you, and I am so sorry”. He hasn’t wasted his time hustling or learning how to be a better criminal or hating the world. He cries openly at the mention of family or if he talks about the victims of his crime, alive and asleep. He says them all by name, btw. He honors them the only way he knows how, by not wasting his time living in this place as a convict. He was given Life Without Parole yet he loves as if he is releasing tomorrow to the arms of a community he loves.
Gary isn’t rare. He IS unique, but not rare. Here there are many men who have turned their lives around. Come to prison and its either womb or a tomb. You can learn to die, or learn to live. It’s our choice. Not everyone has Gary’s zeal for humanity. But Gary does, and how do you know what kind of person your loved one is unless you find out first hand? 
I have a whole family tree in Nebraska that completely disowned me. Zero contact. I once was a terrible human being. Deserving of death. Unwilling to do much more then fume in the torrent of my misery. But they will never know that he dreams and aspirations and potential I had as a boy is now being identified and developed. I am NOT the man I was six years ago. But they won’t give me a chance to prove it. I am not saying this as a shame on you speech. No, we screwed up, not you. I say this because once humility and sorrow and regret and isolation sink in…once you lose everything you tend to look inside yourself and say “why?”. Then you have a choice to address and fix it or keep on being a devil. Some of us choose to fix it. Returning to the human beings we once were and that is why I say these things. You may NOT have lost the son or brother or nephew you thought you did. They just might have changed, but how would you know if you don’t extend the olive branch?

I would hope my children run into a man like Gary. Gets the chance to see an over comer, a work of God. Mercy and forgiveness. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage 823469