|Vol. 2000 No. 11 November 2000
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!Someone Cares Home Page
Christians, while all this turmoil is going on, can look at Bible Prophecy and put a little reason to it all. It is a shame to think it took the deaths of so very many to bring prayer back to school, to increase church attendance. We are prayerfully thankful we have all of you with us.
CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS
Our church is thinking of doing ingathering, singing Carols door to door. We have several churches going to do the same in prison, never done before. By the bye, if your Pen Friend gets out of prison you may still write through us; it’s a good ministry.
IF IT ISN’T BROKE, DONT FIX IT
Satan has used a lot against us but God has shielded us in every way. We had a computer malfunction, causing us to lose some names and find some we had lost? We are attempting to rebuild, so if you have a friend connected please tell them to drop a note if they did not get October’s Newsletter. We send out receipts in January for the past year. If you don’t get one, please write us with the amount as our file here may be corrupted. All Email files were destroyed or hidden. Please Email us so we can put you back in our address book.
Please make sure your Pen Friend can have what you plan to send. It may be better to send a money order, if you can, made out “To the Account of [Your pen friend’s name and number].” We have too many lost packages as is. And Christmas brings so much mail.
We also need Christmas cards to give inmates to send to their families.
If your company gets a new copier and needs a tax write-off, we can use the old one.
With a 100-mile-a-day drive we still need a small car (stick,) or, If everyone reading this would send some amount of donation, we will jump start next year.IF ONLY
My name is John. I’m 40 years old and in prison serving five years for a drug-related crime I committed. I do belong here. But, I served 10 years in the army special forces, am trained and in excellent con-dition. With this mess going on, my state could save $45,000 a year and put me in the military, not having to train me. There are so many of us. This would be a step towards rebuilding what we have done. Tell your Senators, Congressmen, anyone with a juice card.
I have been writing an inmate for two years. He has been a blessing in my life. I am happy to be a part of Someone Cares, directed by the McClures. [This letter to a warden was written in 1998 and just popped up.] My Pen Friend made me happier than I have been. Parchman prison does everything to keep good things out. If people write by the rules set by the McClures, they cannot get in trouble. I realize in each of these men there is a heart; it takes Someone Caring to bring it out. I was in the hospital last Christmas and he made me a dozen roses.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, JOE
I arrived at San Quentin Thanksgiving eve, scared to death and very lonely, sitting in a cell feeling very sorry for myself and avoiding decisions I would have to make to survive.
A female voice said "Hi." Embarrassed at sitting on my bunk in shorts, I excused her until I could get dressed. That is how I met Yvonne, the pretty side of The God Squad. We chatted, she gave me some greeting cards and a Bible, I still have that. She also shared the love of Jesus, something no one had ever done. I got to know both Don and Yvonne well and let me tell you these folks are for real. If you want to help someone, help Someone Cares, because they really do.
MY FIRST CHRISTMAS ON DEATH ROW...
was approaching very fast. This couple that visited the Row came by and made us all an offer. How about spending Christmas here with a loved one?!!
Let’s pray, was their answer. Let me tell you, folks, about twenty of us and our loved ones were able to spend Christmas eve with our families, not on the row but in a decorated gym. When we were moved, no one shouted “Dead Man Walking.” It was a night I will never forget. It sure is neat that there are folks who really do care.
I am writing this the 10th of October. We just spent an afternoon at the Madison Correctional Facility, putting a schedule together for religious programs. It never ceases to amaze me, how unwilling people are to give a few hours a week. I realize that we are living in very uncertain times, but praise God, is this not prophecy being fulfilled? You turn to the news and you hear how everything has slowed down, but is this a time for us as Christians to slow down? I think not—we need to be willing to put more into spreading the Good News and sharing with others. I don't know if Don mentioned it or not, but funding has also slowed down, which makes it rough on us. As we make every attempt to pick up the pace of the ministry, please keep us in your prayers. My Father used to say that you could come up with a lot of good programs, but they would be of no use unless you had the people to work the programs! He was very right, and as I think back on life at home, I can recall many times when He and my Mother would carry on when no one else was willing to help.
I do believe we are living very close to the last days, yet we must work until the work is to be no more. I want to challenge each Christian to talk to just one different person a day about God, and share something good. As we have started Bible studies in the prison, there are so many that don't read well, and then there are others that cannot retain or understand what they read. We will try to help them in all areas that we can, so they may understand God's word for themselves. I don't know about all of you, but I'm ready for Jesus to come. I pray we are all homesick for Heaven!
WE ASK FOR PRAYER
Satan is an enemy we cannot stop, but God can. Many of you prayed for our daughter, who had four surgeries in five months. Prior to that our soon to be ex-son-in-law had gotten into drugs, joined a carnival. This left our daughter in a bit of a fix, but she made it through and is now back at work. Mike quit the carnival but still had to find a way to feed a heroin habit. He chose armed robbery and will fall under the three strikes law. May get up to twenty years. God was able to clean him up before, and we pray He does it again. It can happen to us, it can happen to you.
FROM JACKSON PRISON
Don & Yvonne, I am sending this note hoping it gets to you, as I think you went back to California. I do know you go where God calls. When you and Yvonne were here I was lucky to have you work with me. Being a pedophile, no one else would. Your wisdom and direction led me to a relationship with Jesus.
The shrink at Jackson said I would “never change." I have gotten out of prison, joined a Church, and have not even thought of my old ways. I have a neat church and a support group that I can go to. But Jesus is my reason for even wanting to live. He saved me from Sin not in sin, and I praise him. Enclosed is a donation, my love and thanks. You cared when it was important.
COME BACK WE NEED YOU
Don & Yvonne, I received your newsletter from a friend here at San Quentin. I remember the Christmas I met you two. I was locked down in the Hole when you came by my cell and gave me a book called Steps To Christ. I also received a dollar on my books, as did every inmate at San Quentin!. (We had a lot of Help doing that). Well, the dollar went quick but the book, very frayed, is still in my cell, heart and life. We here still have a neat volunteer program but they don’t have the time to spend with us that you and Yvonne took the time to find. I pray that someday we meet again. I get out in 3 weeks. To be free In Jesus is to be free indeed is what you tauught us. So I will have a double freedom. God Bless You.
THINGS ARE SELDOM AS THEY APPEAR, Part 2
For whatever reasons a person commits a crime, he/she is sent to a hostile prison environment. Man’s solution is to isolate them from the very society they want them to fit into. These are not “reform” or “correctional” institutions, as they are labeled. They are punishment systems which issue life from a rule book that has no social skill values built into it. These are rules for operating a punishment sys-tem only. The hostilities of a punishment prison environ-ment works only to harden the hearts and characters of men and women to be released back into society. So made the worse, they are simply releas-ed back into society without rehabilitation, correction, reform or even readjustment.
The conditions for the revolving door are created by the system. It should not be a surprise to see in the news where an ex-con commits a crime. The solution of harder, more expensive prison build-ings like Supermax punish-ment systems do work to make a person not want to return, but do nothing to deal with the social and emotional problems of the person to be released one day...
This system suits a lot of convict types just fine who could care less if changes are made or not. They’ve learned to do time, which is all that prison teaches. Sure, there are educational programs and vocational trades for some, which is useful in society, but society has no place for the ex-con released from this system, made harder and even less sociable. There are a lot of intelligent criminals behind bars who can match wits with the best minds in society. Educa-tion and life skills have a place in society, but not a person with social and emotional problems, which are the cause of criminal activity.
A warden of the Oklahoma State Prison said, in a docu-mentary done by the Discovery Channel, on the Supermax H-Unit: “He could not let the prisoners off a 23-24 hour lock-down status, because every time it has been done in the past, someone always does something to jeopardize secur-ity.” When all you offer them on a non-lock-down status is an assault by a punishment system, of course you will get rebellion, just as they did at Eastern State, Pennsylvania.
Under a different system, things would be different be-cause there are a lot of decent guards, staff and prisoners. But all are under a rule book, where good guys finish last. If a guard treats the prisoners with dignity and deals with them from a personable, hands-on relation-ship, he/she will be moved to a guard tower or placed some-where away from prisoner con-tact. In fact, the man I am writing this for is a guard. While he would not do anything to jeopardize the security of the prison, he smiles at the human beings locked away in these cells and treats us with a sense of Christian love. Even though a small light as one man, you see a spark as a bright light in total darkness. It’s not a matter of forgiving and removing the prison bars. The demands of justice can still be met with prison bars, but let mercy and forgiveness allow for softening hearts to feel and change. Very few men do not want to change and stay out of hostile prison. but the way it is now, it takes even more inner strength to rise above the pressures of the environment and change for the better.
The system actually works against positive change by its hardening conditions. And certainly no guard or staff here wants to create the conditions for a revolving door that threat-ens society. We’re all caught up in the ignorance of it all. Hopefully, I’m not the only person who sees the true reality of things. If I am, then it really must be a blind-leading-the-blind world we live in. I was a non-problem child. My father died, I lost my innocence and eventually found myself before the courts. But the system was set up to punish people and I wasn’t old enough to be punished at that time. They were not concerned with the “why” of the changes in me, only with what punishment could be given. The roots were left growing until I was old enough to be punished. Now, having been through the system many times, and having spent over 20 years in maxi-mum security prisons, the cost alone could have sent a whole school of kids to Harvard. We have to pay for our children’s future one way or another. Why not get a positive return on your money?
Capital punishment is the ultimate punishment, so in the name of justice we kill to show how wrong killing is. George W. Bush said on the David Letterman Show, “If I thought capital punishment was for vengeance, I’d not support it.” It’s left entirely up to the District Attorneys to choose against whom they will seek a death penalty. There’s not enough money to try every murder as a capital crime and seek the death penalty. It will be sought based on politics or respect of persons. The politics of capital punishment has sucked a lot of decent law makers and law enforcement agents in, where it’s carried out in the name of justice, excusing us from personal feelings of hate and venge-ance. You can call a cow’s tail a leg if you wish, but it does not make it so.
A murder is committed every 21 minutes, yet only a little over 3,500 men and women are on death row in the states that have capital punishment (united, huh!). A District Attorney will seek one person for capital punishment and plea bargain with the others charged with the same crime, of life or less. The ratio used is one hundred to one. It is NOT the most heinous and cruel of crimes chosen, as they would have you believe. Just look and compare the crimes of murderers in general popu-lations to those on death row. It is said to be an eye for an eye system, but if true, then almost all murderers would be on death row, because any crime can be played up by the media to be heinous and cruel.
There is no deterrent factor to capital punishment. Perhaps in some months of an execu-tion, the violent crime rate drops a small percentage, but it does that on non-execution months as well. So, from 15,000 murders committed in execution states, some years only 14,900 are committed and this drop of 100 constitutes a deterrent factor. It’s obvious that capital punishment is ven-geance and has absolutely no deterrent factor even though it doubles, and in some cases triples, the cost of life without parole.
God said “life for a life,” but not so we’d know how to exact punishment. It was to show the value of human life. Moses kil-led the Egyptian in anger and hid his body. David committed adultery and murder, yet God did not take their lives. Adultery, along with other sins, was listed as a capital offense, yet when the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, He showed mercy as God did toward people.
...Next month, the conclusion...
It’s that golden time again when our thoughts turn home and we long to be with family, giving thanks and praying for those in our country and abroad. We have been brought face to face with evil, falling to our knees to examine our own souls and asking Jesus to help us be ready for His coming. Some have wandered from His side and have seen their need to return and hang on tightly for the final ride. These are exciting times, dear ones!!
My next best friend to Jesus and I will be helping our pastor with prison ministry by the time you read this. There’s a nice chapel, even an organ, and a piano with popsickle sticks to repair some of the broken keys. We expect to make the courts of heaven ring in there with music and the Word!