A Failure

Posted: June 29, 2014 by Ed Griffin in Prison, Reform
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I set up a bursary to help inmates with further education. I understood that education was the proven way out of crime. But some men and women had already obtained a high school diploma, so the prison system would do nothing for them. And there were others who just wanted to take a college course in a subject they were interested in, high school diploma or not.

I moved carefully at the beginning. It would be better if the donations were handled by a trusted group that could issue a tax receipt to people. I talked to the John Howard Society and they agreed to sponsor this effort. http://www.edgriffin.net/bursary.html/

Now comes the failure. I’m not out in the streets promoting this bursary. Yes, I mention it now and then in this blog, but I don’t contact other businesses, or certain charities or rich individuals. Why not?

Maybe I’m afraid of people yapping about “Those dirty convicts, I wouldn’t give them a dime.” I pay attention to stories in the news about criminals and I must say the media is far from objective. I know that with some people, I would have to remind them that these are human beings we’re talking about, human beings who are going to get out of prison someday.

Maybe it’s just my nature NOT to raise money. When I was a Catholic priest, I absolutely hated to raise money. Several times a year the bishop would send a letter that we had to read at every mass, raising money for this or that Catholic charity. I said to myself that I didn’t get ordained to raise money. Either I skipped it entirely or I skimmed over it.

That sounds like an excuse to me. What’s the matter with me?

  1. Chrissy says:

    Yes, asking for money is hard.Especially from people who stereotype inmates.The highly educated, financially secure, rarely end up in jail.So you would think it would be obvious that our Mother or Fathers, sons or daughters,sisters & brothers or just the guy next door who do wind up there, are truly the less fortunate who do indeed need it.

  2. Don’t feel badly. I spent 40 years raising money and then had to retire as I couldn’t stand it any longer. My patience just ran out. Researching other bursaries and grants available to inmates, or advocating for them from foundations (etc.) is another option.

  3. Ain’t nothin’ the matter with you, Ed, you’ve simply got empathy, an essential tool in a writer’s arsenal. but a real cross to bear if you’re trying to raise money. In such a case, the empathy works against you as you know how the person you’re thinking of asking will feel, and in many cases, you know they’re not in favour of giving anything to people who’ve been jailed. It’s the old, Win some, lose some syndrome, Empathy’s great for fiction writing, but it sure makes it hard to raise money.

  4. jcommittedk says:

    Hi Ed,
    I just wanted you to know that I agree with all the comments you’ve received so far on this post. Raising money for any cause is very difficult when you are not giving something back, but for this particular cause it must be extremely difficult. The people who would be the most sympathetic are likely the families of the people who need it and they usually have no money to speak of. Still, there are some inmates who do quite well after release. They get into art or business and make tonnes of money. The question is how to reach these people to convince them that this would be a great way to reduce their tax bill. Word of mouth might be the only viable way. Have you tried posting a thread on prisontalk.com?

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