Hudson Link – Freedom of a College Education Within Prison Walls
I am deeply moved about a documentary I saw on TV about inmates getting their college degrees. They study in rough conditions. How difficult would you find it to study with radios blaring and inmates always talking? You stuff your ears with toilet paper so you can drown out as much noise as possible. A hope burns within you for a better life. You know you can’t undo your past.You can forge a better future and inspire others through your overcoming story. I commend their courage and perseverance.
Few have returned to prison after release because they are connected to a suport program run by former inmates. Check out hudsonlink.org, the program that educates inmates to have a career upon release and help other inmates to do the same.It is primarlily funded through public contributions.
Critics of the program say that those who have killed and robbed others need to be locked away for the rest of their lives. They should never have any opportunity to better themselves. But then we need to ask another question. Do we want an inmate returned to society schooled in the university of crime or armed with an education that will inspire others?
I worked for four years as a Correctional Rehabilitation Counselor with The Salvation Army under the auspices of the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Service. For three years I worked at The Salvation Army Bunton Lodge Commmunity Residential Centre in Toronto, which is commonly referred to as a half-way house. For one year I worked at The Salvation Army W.P. Archibald C.R.C. In that time I saw what hope looked life for these men. The opportunity to reintegrate into society instilled in many a determination to work hard at their rehabilitation. This meant they had to go to difficult places in their past often filled with abuse. They had to let go of their anger. They had to make that long journey of forgiving all the people who hurt them. They had to move beyond hate to loving others and forgiving themselves.
It could be argued that painful things, awful and terrifying things happen to others. They don’t kill someone. They don’t rob a bank. They don’t commit manslaughter. I won’t dispute that point. But if we don’t give those who offend an opportunity to redeem themselves, what does that say about us a society? Would I feel any different if my wife Karen was murdered? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that Karen would want me to forgive the person who killed her. I hope I would do that.
I will let the people whose lives have been changed by the program speak about it in the video below. Their stories are riveting. If they can study under trying conditions to succeed in life, then that should inspire us to work hard to achieve our dreams.
While many of these men and women studying for their degrees will remain in prison for months or years, they are committing themselves to a path of redemption, of becoming better people. Isn’t that what we should alll aspire to be? We want to be better than the day we were before, a little more kinder, a little more loving, a little more giving, a little more understanding, a little more tolerant.
I leave you all with this thought.
“Have you noticed that you feel better around some people than others? You smile more in their presence and afterward feel a little lighter, a bit more cheerful? I think of those people as “purveyors of hope.” They help me to know that beyond every mountain I face there is a path…even if I can’t see it from the valley.”
― Steve Goodier
That is all those who are studying for their college degrees through Hudson Link for Higher Education are asking for –the opportunity to be those hopeful people, who in turn become the ones giving back the hope they have been given.
Kevin Osborne, B.A. in Clinical Christian Counseling St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, BTh. Canada Christian College & Graduate School, D.D., D Sc., Diplomate in Creative Ministry and his wife, Karen, B.A. in Clinical Christian Counseling St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, graduate divinity student Trinity College University of Toronto, are graduate Christian counseling students at St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Kevin is a certified Christian counselor. He is a member of The Word Guild, a Christian writer’s group in Canada.
Posted on June 7, 2015, in On Circumstances and tagged abuse, anger, Community, compassion, Education, hate, Heart, Hope, inspiration, life, love, loving others, mind's seat, pain, people, study, Work. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.