The Book We Didn’t Write

Posted: March 8, 2012 by Ed Griffin in Prison, Reform
Tags: , , , , , ,

One day a man walked into my class in prison. He didn’t really walk in, more he slid in to the centre of the room and said, “Relax everyone, Mike is here to entertain you.”

I learned long ago to work with people and not to impose harsh class room rules. I soon discovered that he was a great writer – he knew things by instinct that it had taken me years to learn.

We decided to write a book together, called Inside-Out. I, the outsider, thought prison was dystopia, a place void of value, a deep, dark depressing part of the planet. He, the insider, was going to say, “Hang on a minute here, Ed, prison does some good for some people.”

ParoleMike came up for parole. A few days before, another inmate had an illegal cell phone and put it in Mike’s belongings, camouflaged in a sock.

The guards found it. They asked Mike about it. He said, “It’s not even my sock.”cell phone

Nonetheless, Mike was denied parole, even though everyone knew it wasn’t his cell phone. The true owner of the phone was released a month later and Mike spent another year and a half in prison. The cost to taxpayers for that was $50,000 dollars.

Mike rewrote his part of the book. He agreed with me. Prison was Dystopia. The book is his story of crime and redemption and it’s my story of entering prison to cause a revolution, which is not what happened.

For the next few days the E-Book version of Dystopia is free from Smashwords. If you’re interested, check out the previous post on this blog.Dystopia

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  1. Joanne Kehayas says:

    The cell phone incident is a very sad, but unfortunately all too common, story in various guises. Prison can become a dog-eat-dog world when people begin to feel they are all on their own against everyone else. It is fear that is responsible for this phenomenon.

    Fortunately, there are also many good news stories, like you have written before, Ed, where prisoners band together for a good cause. Prisoners need to be encouraged to do more of the latter.

    For example, if prisoners helped each other to write grievances against obvious wrongs perpetrated by the system, then more would be accomplished in the way of preserving their rights. Using this method that is there for them, they would also be seen to be dealing appropriately with the wrongs perpetrated against them.

    When prisoners band together they will be stronger than when they are trying to go it alone. When prisoners band together they will realize they have more support in each other than they ever knew. Fear increases with avoidance and isolation but diminishes with association.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      You are so right, Joanne. When the guys get together, they can accomplish a lot. Many prisons have peer counseling programs. The guys in my class often banned together to change something. They were often smarter than I was. I would rant and they would strategize. Sometimes the admin listens to inmates united and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes they ship the leaders off to other prisons.
      But this is not to deny you excellent post. thank you

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