with the author's permission, i am happy to share an excerpt from a paper written by nicholas, one of my students in the oregon state penitentiary. his passion and sincerity practically jump off the page:
"Since the very first day of my incarceration all I could think about was the outside and how I could have done better and how badly I wanted to get out and do better. All I could think about was being out there with my family, living a real life, and starting a family of my own. It is this feeling that motivates me everyday to do well and never return to the life I once lived, and most importantly never to come back here. Never again will I be deprived of the people and the things that I love, and it is this feeling that still grows within me with each moment that passes...I am glad this has all happened because it has made who I am today, a mentally strong young man who appreciates the important things in life. And although it’s been tough, it’s been the greatest experience I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But after 5 years of an 8½ year sentence, I’m ready to go home."