Incarceration

Love Letters from Prison

The night of my Paw Paw’s funeral, I sat in his ancient, tattered leather chair, family photo albums piled around me, flipping through the pages of our history and having myself a good cry. Pictures of the life my grandparents…

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Stepping Back into the World

Gates slam, voices scream, and somewhere someone bangs on a metal bar. She lies on the bed staring up at the ceiling, her fingers opening and closing. Her lips press in a heart-shaped pout, and she jerks at times. It…

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Beauty Behind Bars

His name is Ken, and our worlds collide under unusual circumstances. The local nature preserve is hosting a Wildlife Artist Expo, so I drive my oldest daughter, Rainey – who announced at her preschool graduation that she wanted to be…

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The People Inside

You can’t take it with you. Purse, wallet, cell phone, car keys—you must stow everything in the coin-operated lockers in the corner of the lobby. Check in with the guard behind the desk, stash your stuff, and wait your turn….

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Systems of Court

Zechariah is arrested for the first time just before he turns seventeen. His mom doesn’t have enough credit to post bail, so she asks my husband and me for help. Because of the nature of our lives running a nonprofit…

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The Choice Between Life and Death

Let’s talk about evil. Sometimes folks accuse people who want to abolish the death penalty of being unrealistic, utopian, or oblivious to the fact that evil is real. What do we do with someone who is a threat to society?…

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Starved for Beauty

I was nervous the first time I met the men. Possibly even afraid.   They were behind bars. Locked up in a maximum-security facility. Separated from society because they had done bad things. And most of them were going to…

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