Posts Tagged ‘Crime’

Great quotations about crime and prisons embellish our history and our culture. Here are a few:

  • The law is like a serpent. It bites the feet which have no shoes on. Bishop Oscar Romero, who was murdered in El Salvador in 1980.
  • While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. Eugene V[ictor] Debs 1855-1926
  • The level of civilization in a society can be measured by entering its prisons. Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel de Tocqueville.
  • Poverty is the mother of crime Marcus Aurelius 121-180
  • All crime is a kind of disease and should be treated as such.  Mahatma Gandhi
  • Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900
  • A quote from Oscar Wilde 1854-1900
  •                        The vilest deeds like poison weeds
  •                        Bloom well in prison air:
  •                         It is only what is good in man
  •                        That wastes and withers there
  • There should be no jails.  They do not accomplish what they pretend to accomplish.  If you would wipe them out there would be no more criminals than now.  They are a blot upon any civilization.  Clarence Darrow, 1857-1938
  • I was in prison, and ye came unto me. The Gospel According to St. Matthew 25:36

Which is your favorite quote? Why?

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FYI, here is an excellent webpage about racism in criminal justice in the USA.  Problems exist in Canada as well with the percentage of first nation peoples in Canadian prisons. However, I’m not aware of a well-documented chart such as this one for the USA.

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

I’m working on a novel that scares the hell out of me. Here’s how it happened. People kept talking to me about prison. “You’re against prison, Griffin. So what’s your answer?

I’m trying to write my answer. It’s called Delaney’s Hope and it’s the story of a man with a dream. Delaney wants to set up a prison that really works. Right now 1 out of 2 people who get out of prison will return. Delaney wants something different.

To do this novel I had to look up a lot of prison programs. But the bigger challenge was to make the characters come alive. A rule of mine is NO PREACHING, which means I can’t push my ideas in the novel. I can’t say what I think. I can’t say so-and-so is a jerk, I can’t say Delaney has a good idea. I have to respect my characters and let them do what they will. While the book started out as my idea, I hope I let the characters do what they wanted to do

I’m trying to get Delaney’s Hope out this year.prison

The John Howard Society has awarded grants to these three men in the first distribution of the Ed Griffin Educational Bursary

  • An inmate who’s earned two bachelor’s degrees and is now working on his masters
  • An inmate who wants an electric typewriter to turn in papers for his masters at Trinity Western. People in prison are not allowed to have computers.
  • An inmate who wants to get his bachelor’s in environmental studies

I’m very happy about this because education is the proven way out of crime. All of these men have to pay for their own post-secondary education

During the rest of May, I’d be happy to send you one of my ebooks if you make a donation. Click here to make a donation and then email me which ebook you’d like. I have most in Adobe (pdf) format or epub which seems to work with most readers.

If you don’t have a reader, you can still read these books on your computer.

Once A priestOnce A Priest  –  non-fiction,  autobiography, Catholicism, civil rights, love and marriage, Canada, writing, and cancer.

Veto – fiction   a woman becomes Secretary General of the UN and changes this weak organization into Vetoan effective government

Dystopia Dystopia – non-fiction, Inmate Mike Oulton and Ed Griffin tell their stories of prison

Prisoners of the Williwaw – fiction  Three hundred convicts and their families try to make a life on an Prisoners of the Williwawabandoned, hard-duty Naval station on the island of Adak in the Aleutians.

Beyond the VowsBeyond the Vows – fiction – a young Catholic priest falls in love.

Just make a donation and I’ll send you the book of your choice. The John Howard Society uses the Canada Helps organization to collect money for the bursary. They get $3.00 or every contribution. Be sure to click the Ed Griffin Educational Bursary under Fund Designation or write it in the box.

You get a tax receipt when you make the donation. I don’t get a record of who does what, so you have to send me an email to get your book.

A few years ago two creative men stirred my creative writing class in prison with idea after idea. They came up with creative writing projects, with proposals to the prison administration, and even with ideas for TV shows.Creative People

They were good friends not only in the classroom but in the gym and in sports. Jack was the boxer and the storyteller, while Andrew was the humorist. Andrew didn’t have the physique Jack had, but he tried hard. (not their real names)

One night Jack heard a disturbance in the cell next to his. He got up and saw three men beating up Andrew. Jack broke up the fight.

Prison officials followed usual procedure and put everyone in segregation until they could figure out what had happened. It turned out that Andrew had made enemies in the prison, reason unknown, but some suspected that his success in criminal ventures had stirred jealousy.

Jack was released from segregation the next day. Andrew was moved to the federal prison set aside for those who needed protective custody.

Officials scheduled release for the two men at roughly the same time, but Andrew got out first. I met him for coffee and we talked. I knew he was headed back into crime and I argued and pleaded with him. A few weeks later we were to meet again for coffee. He stood me up and I knew my influence was over.

Jack got out almost a year later. He was a changed man, but he said it was the writing that had helped him, more than the prison. That, and our friendship, for he and I had become good friends. While he was in prison, we wrote a book together.

We met for coffee when he was released. He told me that Andrew had set aside a gift for him in the tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, I opposed him accepting it, but Jack already had reservations about it. He knew the money came from crime and accepting it meant he would join his old friend in new criminal ventures.

Jack turned the money down. He struggled for a few years, but has now built a little entertainment company. He works hard, but he’s happy.

Andrew did well in crime. He made a lot of money in drugs and in financial crimes. He had a child with a young woman Engagement Partyand he’d planned an invitation-only engagement party in a downtown restaurant. Guests started arriving for the evening event. A friend drove Andrew and his fiancé there, but as they neared the restaurant, a volley of bullets slammed into the car, killing Andrew, but sparing his partner.

I planned to attend the funeral and I asked Jack if he’d like to come with me.

“I’m so bleeping mad at Andrew. A creative guy, gunned down and it’s his own bleeping fault. No, Ed, I can’t go. It will be a gang event and I want no part of it.”

He was right. The pallbearers looked like the muscle from a gang and the usual undercover police stood outside the Pall bearerscemetery taking pictures of who was there.

Every time I drive by the cemetery, my heart aches for Andrew. I guess I should be mad at the prison system for failing to change him over his seven-year sentence, but I’m just sad. Creativity is buried there, innovative ideas in business or the arts, dead in a gangland shooting. How sad.


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Bill C-10

Posted: March 13, 2012 by Ed Griffin in Prison
Tags: , , , ,

A note of sadness today as the conservatives in Parliament pass the crime bill, C-10. It’s one thing for me and my left-leaning friends to oppose this bill, but when Texas conservatives disagree with it, that’s another thing. They tried to tell Ottawa that it wouldn’t work, that it’s been tried in the USA and it didn’t work there.

‘Been there; done that; didn’t work,’ say Texas crime-fightersTexas badge

Canadian Bar AssociationThe Canadian Bar Association also opposes this bill.

I worked for eighteen years in Canadian prisons and now I work with people with drug and alcohol dependencies. All of the people I’ve worked with will be negatively affected by this bill, even those who are trying to do better. I suppose Harper thinks we will forget about this by the time of the next election. A sad day indeed. I feel guilty today that I didn’t do more to stop this scar on the image of the country I love.

What is your opinion of bill C-10?


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Prison Bars

Photo by Vectorportal via Flickr

Slavery. Fathers, mothers ripped from their children. People thrown in the bottom of slave ships where many of them died. Transported from Africa to America. Prodded and displayed for sale in markets.

Today we look in horror at what our ancestors did. How could human beings do those things to other people?

I fear, however, that our descendents will look back at our era and say the same things:

They put their law-breakers in cages? They had these things called prisons, fenced in spaces where there weren’t any trees. They ripped the identity out of the people, told them in countless ways that they were evil. Some of the law-breakers they executed. And these people of the 21st century claimed to be educated.

I can hear it now. A descendent of mine. She studies my history. What did he do? Did he support this evil by paying for it? Yes he did. He paid his taxes.

So I take a very small step. I’m going to write a blog on prison reform. Who am I? I’ve been teaching creative writing in prison for 23 years. My heart aches with what I see.

What do I believe? Yes, a very small minority of those currently locked up in prison have to stay there, at least until they change. But most men and women need something besides prison. They need rehabilitation. Our current prisons are warehouses for human beings – and they are crime schools.

I don’t know all the answers. I’d like to hear your views. But we must start. Our descendents are watching.

What do you think about prison?