I’m a volunteer at the jail, here at J. Reuben Long, trying to get them to understand in hours what took me years.
We have maybe 13 to 20 guys any day. We’re teaching them, I’d like to say refreshing them, in the things that a lifestyle has beaten down and made a faint thought. Things like why we do what we do.
I’m trying to get them to accept their choices as their own instead of blaming any and everyone else for the pain they inflict on others. Getting them to accept responsibility is the hardest. Whatever we are doing that day has to have the underlining suggestion of responsibility.
This one guy who is in for sexual offenses told us one day it was the fault of the ones who asked him to get out of his bed and do the crime. It was the girl who accused him of the sexual offense. It’s everyone’s fault except his.
We’ve been going for a while now and the crowd gets bigger each time. We laugh and talk with each other. They can speak about anything bothering them. But we want them to understand: Anything done is by our own choice.
This guy thought God was doing him wrong. He had a temper that made the room uncomfortable at first. Today he surrenders to his inner power. He is guilty. And he wants those out there to know he did something wrong and wishes to let other young men know that when someone asks you to do something you know is wrong, don’t be so weak that ‘No’ can’t come out.
Don’t allow anyone to get you mixed up in a crime. I know myself. I was him, maybe not that crime, but a crime. That put me in prison for a few years. I say this: If we can stop you at a small offense before it’s a life sentence then what my other volunteers do is worth every hour we spend at J. Reuben Long.
So many say, why would we wish to go into a prison? Well, those who make mistakes are human beings too.
Something has to be missing in their lives to even want to hurt another human being. I found healing in a prison cell. Most people laugh when you say I got saved in prison. Think about this. When we arrive in front of those steel gates, we all have the same opportunity, to be good or perfect or bad, the same blank slate as we enter the jail or prison. Most are guilty, and by chance if you aren’t guilty of the crime they say, think about it. There were things we didn’t get caught at, so use it as a lesson, to heal and strengthen the weakness that put you at that place and time, that day.
Start to love yourself and grow up.
The writer lives in North Myrtle Beach.