Archive for November, 2013

This week the local news media carried a story about me and my latest book.

Surrey writer locked out of prison

Author Ed Griffin has been told he can’t volunteer in B.C. penitentiaries

Surrey author and writing coach Ed Griffin has been locked out of jail.

  • Griffin, an author of several books, poetry, plays and short stories, has been teaching writing to inmates at prisons in the province for years.
  • Founder of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Griffin is a local icon in the writing community.
  • As he has in the past, Griffin sent a manuscript – his latest book “Delaney’s Hope” – to an inmate for editing.
  • Officials with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) didn’t like the content. One chapter portrayed the rape of a young girl.
  • Griffin is quick to point out he dealt with the subject matter sensitively and didn’t glorify it.
  • CSC officials weren’t impressed.
  • On Aug. 19, Zender Katz, the assistant warden at Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, wrote Griffin saying his clearance to enter the prison as a volunteer was being revoked.
  • “You brought and distributed a manuscript which you were not authorized to bring into the institution; therefore, you were in breach of your volunteer role,” Katz wrote in an Aug. 19 letter to Griffin. “It was especially concerning that the manuscript you wrote, and provided, describes explicit adult sexual interaction with children and sexual abuse details.
  • “Given the nature of our business, regrettably, I must terminate your volunteer activities at this site and with the CSC.”
  • Griffin believes the problem has more to do with his blog, which is critical of the correctional service, than with his book.
  • He notes that at his appeal, officials noted he writes a blog called “Prison Uncensored,” where he is quite critical of the system.
  • “I sincerely believe that my severance was related to my blog,” Griffin said.
  • Reached by telephone Thursday, Katz said he had no comment, referring the call to the prison’s media relations department.
  • A representative from that department declined comment, citing the privacy act.

What should my response be? Does this relate to writing? Yes, in my opinion. A teacher has a right to move his student one step further, by asking him for comments on a draft novel. This was just between the student and myself. But, as they often do, the prison system made a far bigger issue of it. And I understand that when this issue became public, the prison system banned the guys from meeting on their own. Strange.

Your thoughts?

Any writer worth their salt has a beta reader, a knowledgeable writVB Coverer who will give an honest critique. Here’s what mine said.

“I like it, Ed. I really got into the heads of some of these criminals, but who’s this Delaney?”

“What?” I replied. “He’s the hero of the novel.”

“Look,” the reader said, “you start with the day the prison opens and then you jump right into the stories of your criminals. I liked those stories, one after the other, but I never got to know Delaney.”

I was upset. I had a clear picture of Delaney in my head, the guy who pulled this new prison idea off. Why couldn’t my reader see it?

But as I calmed down, I thought about his comment. I did begin with what is now chapter five, Opening Day. Right away I portrayed the criminals one after the other, but there really was no explanation of Delaney.

So I started over. How did Delaney come up with this idea? What was the key event that put him on the path of making a change? How did people take to his idea?

I wrote the first four chapters and then added a lot more about Delaney as the story went on.

I believe with Delaney that there are a lot better ideas for prison than what we have now.

The E-book version of Delaney’s Hope is available for $2.99 at B00GFGEBMG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1384110394&sr=8-3&keywords=Delaney%27s+Hope

VB Cover“Our prisons aren’t working,” says Surrey author Ed Griffin. “They’re crime schools and warehouses for people. The prison industrial complex doesn’t want to see any reduction in them.”

In his latest novel, Delaney’s Hope, Griffin writes about a prison official who regrets his years of collecting a good salary from the system, but helping few. He convinces the American government to let him set up an experimental prison, where inmates do not get out when their time is up – they get out when they don’t do crime anymore.

This explosive book was banned in prison because prison authorities found it challenged the current system and portrayed too well the criminality of a sex offender.

Fellow writer Robert W. Mackay says: Ed Griffin, educator and author, has written a terrific book. Delaney’s Hope is a novel, telling the story of a handful of inmates and a prison reformer who challenges the system. Protagonist Delaney, in that sense, reflects Griffin’s own battle to bring reason and a pragmatic approach to incarceration. For reasons that elude this reviewer, the book has been banned by a prison bureaucracy. Their loss is the reader’s gain. Highly recommended.

The E-book is available now on Amazon for $2.99:

B00GFGEBMG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1384110394&sr=8-3&keywords=Delaney%27s+Hope

I have printed copies($15.00) and shortly Chapters in Surrey will carry them.

 

Are arrogant people attracted to jobs in prison? I’ve certainly known some who were not arrogant. I think of a chaplain who was paid by the prison system. He went as far as he could in helping the guys. By the way he talked to them, he affirmed for them that they were good human beings.

When I went into the prison, I was usually surrounded by a bunch of guys in the hallway as we waited for the guard to open our classroom. We were all laughing and joking around. A certain high ranking prison official would pass us by, and I could see the scowl on her face. This official did everything she could to slowly move me out the door. That’s not arrogance, but it’s something.

It seemed to me that when Harper became Prime Minister, this arrogance got worse. Of course I can’t prove it. It was like “We can do anything we want. The government will back us up.” Witness the Ashley Smith case where prison personnel went way outside the rules.

This is a correctional institution?