Prisoner Idalee

I happen to know and like a lot of prisoners. I work with America’s prison population, in some ways indirectly, and sometimes, right there inside the walls. Oftentimes, I‘m behind a camera or computer, but the stories get to me regardless. I have a lot in common with them.

A big part of why I love doing this, and why I’m the way that I am, is the second chance I was given.

I like to say: I’m on my second chance, and I don’t want to take that for granted. Without going into the gory details, I’ll just say I had my demons and they tore me up as well as those around me – tore down my friends and family, and tore down my dreams.

I woke up, literally and figuratively, after a really bad car accident.  I crashed into a parked government vehicle; thankfully, no one else was hurt. I put my head through the windshield and woke up arrested in a hospital.

I can’t describe how unmistakable the feeling was – that I was in the presence of undeserved grace and forgiveness.  No one was dead. I was maybe gonna do easy time in jail, and I was not mangled.  It was on me to make the best of this second chance.

Maybe sometime I’ll tell more of the gradual story that led me to where I am now. But the moral of this story is that I feel a real connection to screw-ups. I feel a real connection with people who make mistakes big and small, and who genuinely want to change.

I think we should all start looking into the way America does prison. Individuals can make a difference. Go inside and talk to someone. Advocate removing unjust mandatory minimums, or just hiring an ex-prisoner looking for work.  I’ve seen what a true second chance can do, and it’s incredible.

I’ll be going into a prison in August to work on a song with some of the guys in a Houston prison. It promises to be incredible, too, and I’ll keep you updated with what happens.


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Photo Credit: Prison Fellowship