1. My dad was a shoemaker and back in the mid 70’s he worked at Rahway State Prison in New Jersey teaching shoe making to inmates. He sometimes had stories of both those that had no desire to learn anything and just wanted to get out so they could continue their life of crime and those that wanted to make something of themselves. My dad was an older man, grew up in the depression, went into WWII midway through as a teen, came out of the war when he was 20. He was very conservative politically but he was honest, while he had MANY issues himself, overall he was a good man. There was one inmate he became really good friends with. This man was younger and grew up in a horrendous childhood, he looked to my dad as a father figure. When he came out of prison, my dad had helped him find a job and our family and his had BBQs and did other family related stuff together. My dad was big on rehabilitation and not the punishment aspect of prison. He believed if the inmates had options most would NOT return to a life of crime. He would frequently say you just have to give a man a chance to do good and he will. While my dad as a father was not the most loving, gentle or kind, he was a real SOB at times he did teach me valuable things and believing in my fellow man was one of those lessons. I think if we teach children early on to believe in themselves far less would turn to a life of crime and the need to build more prisons wouldn’t be an issue and those in the prison system deserve to be taught a trade so when they do get out they have something to fall back on instead of returning to a life of crime. Not all will come out wanting to be a model citizen of course but I believe the number of those returning to crime will be far, far less. Just my 2¢ worth:-)

  2. What a brilliant story. I was especially touched by Jesse Krimes’ description of how his art helped his fellow inmates open up and talk about what was meaningful to them. Our prison system and the way it simply warehouses people, many of them mentally ill or addicted or abused, is America’s greatest shame. Allowing inmates the dignity and hope that comes from meaningful educational opportunities and thoughtful transition programs to jobs would save lives and tax dollars.

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