July 1, 2002
He had gone home, or should I say, got released from this correctional
facility during the Spring of last year. He was paroled back to the Bronx (a borough of New York city) from whence he came
to prison about nine years earlier.
When JayBee got ready to leave the last time, he and I said our goodbyes.
And the evening before he was scheduled to go out the front door the following morning, the Christians in our fellowship all
gathered to pray for him at the end of a chapel service.
Now, here it is a little more than one year later, and whom do I see in
the recreation yard this past Saturday morning? It was JayBee.
In the crowded yard I was able to spot his unique smile a hundred feet
away. We saw each other about the same time. Then I ran over to him.
JayBee has returned to this place, perhaps the only safe world he knows.
He told me he was "Violated" by his parole officer for drinking and for breaking "lots of rules".
He was so happy to see me. I was disappointed to see him, as I had hoped
he would succeed on the outside. But this was not to be. However, he and I walked together until we caught up with several
other Christians who went outside this hot mrning, too. It was a mini reunion for all of us.
JayBee is forty-one years old. although he looks as if he's in his fifties.
He has been in and out of prisons and mental institutions for nearly all his adult life.
Also, he is almost completely illiterate. At best all he can do is to slowly
and with great effort print his own first and last names.
-----to be continued---
July 2, 2002
When JayBee was getting ready to leave here the last time, he told me that
he was going to rejoin his brother in the Bronx. But looking at the situation now, I reallize that his brother was not glad
to see JayBee return to him.
For JayBee has no relationship with his brother--his only "official" family
member--other than in title. In reallity, they're strangers.
You see, before JayBee came to prison for his last nine year sentence,
his home was a cardboard box at any available spot in New York city. He'd plop his box down at places where he thought he'd
be least likely to get harassed by police, or by intolerant people in the neighborhood who had little sympathy for the struggling
During the long cold winters, JayBee rode the subways from one end of the
City to the other in order to stay warm, kill time, and simply survive until the Spring thaw began.
He is a survivor. And alcoholic. A struggler who somehow managed, by God's
grace, to live as long as he has. JayBee went in and out of crowded, filthy shelters. He wandered the streets not eating properly.
I first met JayBee at one of our chapel services after he accepted the
Lord. This was a handful of years ago. He was happy and seemed content. He would also attend all the Bible studies. Many times
he would sit next to me. He couldn't read, but he would listen and ask questions.
And when it was time for him to get out of prison, as I see now, his chances
of "making it" were nil. He had no one out there. No job. He has emotional problems as well as problems with booze.
---to be continued---
July 3, 2002
Now here he was in the yard sporting a big smile with the same crooked
teeth, and his ever present two day beard stubble on a small boned five-foot frame.
I could see, too, that he had lost at least thirty pounds out there. Now
he looks thin and ghostly. So I'm going to have to nurse him back to health.
Last year JayBere had what many of us have in here, a "prison potato paunch"
from the daily diet of starchy foods like potatoes, rice, and white flour.
But for JayBee, releasing him to the streets was more like sentencing him
to a daily struggle for survival. He left here to starve, to have to live off handouts and occasional meals from soup kitchens
or the Salvation Army.
Always soft-spoken so that he barely talks above a whisper, I know that
JayBee is now in good hands with the Christians who are at this facility. We will encourage him as the Lord has encouraged
On the outside JayBee lived in the shadows of society. He had no friends.
And if anyone ever showed him any kindness, it was because they felt sorry for him, the way they might take in a stray cat
for the night.
But JayBee is going to be fine. He has Christian family in here. His roots
are here. And his best friend is Jesus. The Lord will help him. Jesus will keep him safe.
I often wonder what brings men to prison, for there are really a myriad
of reasons why people commit crimes and end up hurting others as well as themselves.
Kile* is such a man. He's an affable, easygoing and likeable person. Soft-spoken
and always polite, it's hard to imagine him doing time for a homicide.
Kile is a well educated man who had a good job before coming to prison.
He has grown children who are doing well, and whom he writes to every week.
Until the time of his crime he was an honest, hardworking citizen who never
expected to end up in a place like this. But in a weak and stressful moment he took a life.
Presently Kile is doing a life sentence and has a long way to go before
he's up for parole. Yet just the other day Kile learned that he's dying.
He hasn't been feeling well and I've noticed how his health as been deteriorating.
Then his test results came back that he has pancreatic cancer. Over the years that I've known Kile I shared things about Christ.
He would listen politely but never appeared to be deeply challenged. He would make a promise to read a particular Scripture,
but he would never start a discussion about it when he'd see me later on. Then today Kile awoke feeling very sick. A guard
called the infirmary and he was taken out of his cell in a wheel chair. Then later this afternoon we learned that he was transported
to an outside hospital. This is not a good sign. This friend and I have been uneasy.
Interestingly, about a year ago Kile came to a Sunday morning chapel service
and made a profession of faith in Christ. However he only came this one time and never returned.
I could never understand how a man can receive Jesus as his Savior during
a church service, and twenty minutes later seem to lose all interest in Him.
My heart is grieved that Kile now has cancer, and this type is often fatal.
I pray that as a result of this ordeal Kile will get closer ot Christ. I pray too that he will truly repent of his sins and
place his trust in the Lord. May the Lord heal Kile as well as watch over his family. He may never go home again.
*Kile is not his real name