The Changed and The Blind…

Drew has served 23 years of a 75 year sentence for a murder he committed just after his 19th birthday. In terms of who he was to who he is, that’s a lifetime ago, a whole generation. But as it’s currently written, his justice called for that time. So Drew often struggles on what to do to find both his worth and his purpose. With his kind of time, he’s the last to get anything from DOC in the way of programming and structured self development. He’s been turned down for college, substance abuse programs, and any programs specifically geared at reentry or rehabilitation. His job options are limited because of how much time he has. There’s a concern for the risk of exploitation of certain accesses posed by those with that kind of time. Theses factors had really negatively impacted him, until he met a blind man…

During a day in the prison yard, a blind man was taken out in a wheelchair to get fresh air. The blind guy, who was only in the chair because prison is a perilous place to be vision impaired in crowds, was parked and his wheelchair pusher had left him stranded. A blind man, new to this prison, stuck in the yard in a wheelchair without help… That’s how Drew met him. Drew and this blind man, Dante, struck up a wonderful friendship. They were always together and so inseparable, the staff often gave Drew instructions for Dante… not because they had mistaken their identities, but because they knew Drew would take care of Dante. Before long, Dante wouldn’t need the wheelchair because the level of trust and confidence built between Drew and Dante grew to the point that a hand on Drew’s shoulder was all Dante required to maneuver around his world. It was so robust a connection that they even ran the track together, Drew as Dante’s eyes. Trust. Kindness. Friendship. Raw and powerful humanity between a couple of unlikely friends, in a place that doesn’t forgive the vulnerable.

Dante went home a couple of months ago and I had a conversation with Drew to see if he had heard from him. He had and when he was telling me about it, he teared up. It was going to be a lifelong friendship through the walls of a prison for Drew and Dante. But it was within this friendship with a blind man that Drew wound up finding his true human worth and purpose, even if the prison wouldn’t provide one. He went from someone who took a life, to a person who cared for and protected someone extremely vulnerable and it deeply changed critical parts of him. These are the evolutions in prisons, that happen through a simple choice, that rarely get talked about in public. We need more of this… in your world and ours.

by Rory Andes

The human connection grows where you least expect it…

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