Connecting from Stillwater – A letter from James
Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to be able to publish occasional blog posts from participants in the Amicus Connections Group, a monthly circle comprised of men who are incarcerated at Minnesota Correctional Facility Stillwater. Many of those in the Connections Group are serving life sentences. They’ve agreed to provide letters which offer insights on the human, day to day perspectives gained by someone incarcerated for decades or possibly the rest of one’s life. As their group name states, circle members gather in hopes of connecting with the outside world, helping prepare them for life after incarceration as well as offering new insights about those who are incarcerated to those of us who are already living outside prison walls.
James’ letter focuses on his Amicus One to One experience and teaches us how important a visit can be in the life of an inmate. While some inmates will get matched quite quickly, we normally have a shortage of men who are willing to volunteer as a One to One friend and it can take months or even years for a volunteer match to be found. If you’re interested in helping us respond to people like James, please contact Amicus and we’d love to give you more information about reaching out as a One to One friend.
My name is James and I’m in prison for murder. All my family has disowned me. My son, who has been in the Air Force, has contacted me once in a great while. The last time he came to visit was 2005.
In 2003 I contacted Amicus to see about getting a volunteer friend to come visit and also for support. In that same year I received a letter from a man who wanted to meet me. Se we set up a date for him to visit. I looked forward to meeting him. We he came and saw me on three different occasions and then never contacted me again. I thought I had done something wrong or maybe he had health problems. So for one year I didn’t do anything. I contacted Amicus again and they came and interviewed me again. It was quite some time before I was matched, but eventually I received a letter from a new friend.
He came to visit me for the first time in January of 2010 and has been coming to see me every month for almost three years. He’s been a great friend and very supportive. I receive mail from him all the time. He’s the best thing that’s happened to me. He keeps me positive and keeps my hopes up. He always has nice things to say and really cares about my well-being. Without him I was always depressed and didn’t really care about anything. I was always getting in trouble. I had nothing to look forward to.
Now I look forward to hearing from him and visiting with him. We’ve become great friends and it doesn’t matter to him what I’ve done in the past. It’s more about what I can do in the future to improve my life and the lives of others. I really appreciate what Amicus has done for me. I hope others can get the help I did. It’s a great place to meet new friends. Thank you for the opportunity.