son of hope berkowitz

VOLUME MAY 2003aMother's Day, Being Content, Anger, the Army Days

VOLUME JANUARY 2003a Mack, Wendell Judd, Suicide
VOLUME FEBRUARY 2003aSpace Shuttle, Joe T., Wives and Children,Lockdown, Cory,US Armed Forces
VOLUME MARCH 2003aMy Mother, Cop Killer
VOLUME APRIL 2003aHussein, Iraq, War
VOLUME MAY 2003a The Army Days
VOLUME JUNE 2003a50th Birthday, Nothing to Prove
VOLUME JULY 2003Easy Yoke, Witchcraft, I Remember
VOLUME AUGUST 2003 A Good Report, A Devout Jew, Closer to the Lord
VOLUME SEPTEMBER 2003Mrs. Moskowitz
VOLUME OCTOBER 2003 Pearl of Great Price, TV Programs, Not Forgotten, Suicide Attempt, Long Distance
VOL. Nov. 2003 Charlie's Dead, Iraq War
VOLUME DECEMBER 2003 Mental Illness, Charlie's Dead
VOLUME JANUARY 2004No Complaints, Full Altar, Code Yellow
VOLUME FEBRUARY 2004Shot Dead, Violence, Gay Marriage
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Eddie, Waiting, Mother's Day, Being Content, Anger, A Rest From Writing, Memorial Day, The Army Days 

May 2, 2003


Today I spent about an hour counseling with Eddie (not his real name) who's presently "keeplocked". This means he is confined to his cell for a disciplinary infraction.

When I spoke to Eddie this morning I saw he was depressed. He told me that he misses his family, especially his daughter who is now five years old.

Eddie got into trouble when he was twenty and wild. He's been incarcerated for four years now, and he has at least forty-six more years to do.

Eddie has a Bible. He always reads the Christian testimonial books that I loan him. Yet he insists he is not ready to come to Christ.

I know from being in prison for so many years, that the most extreme self-inflicted punishment for anyone doing "time" (other than suicide) is the loss of family contact, or the increased difficulty in maintaining contact.

Fortunately Eddie's older sister is helping to raise his daughter. She has legal custody of her. But he has already missed out on four years of his daughter's life.

He told me that he would love to see his child again as well as get a visit from his sister. But she has no funds, he told me, and she has no vehicle to make the 3 1/2 hour trip (one way) from her home in upstate New York.

With no money and no means of transportation, Eddie has no idea when he will ever see his loved ones. His parents are separated, he said. thankfully, however, his older sister sometimes sends him current photos of his child.


May 2, 2003


I stopped by Eddie's cell today to see how he was doing. I mentioned in yesterday's journal entry that he has been feeling depressed because he misses his family. He also happens to be confined to his cell because of a disciplinary infraction.

This morning Eddie told me that since I last spoke with him, he has learned that tomorrow he will be released from his "keeplock" status (cell confinement with the loss of all prilvileges). Thus he will end up doing a total of seven days for his punishment.

Usually inmates who break the rules get more "cell time" for this. Therefore the disciplinary officer who conducted Eddie's hearing didn't think his infraction was to serious.

Nevertheless, I am simply trying to help Eddie and be a friend he can talk to. when I can I talk to him about the Bible and whatever else I believe the Lord would want me to tell this young man.

Frankly, Eddie knows that he committed a terrible crime. and he also knows that he must continue to endure the pain he created for himself. He is suffering, and this is undeniable.

Eddie was a "wannabe" who tried to join an infamous street gang called "The Bloods". He is short of stature and was only a soft-spoken follower. At the age of twenty I could tell that he had no self esteem. Yet his perception of himself was that of a gangster.

Being simple-minded, psychologically fragile, and wanting to please those he idolized, it was inevitable that he would get into trouble.

Now he must grow up in prison.

David Berkowitz


May 10, 2003


But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength...

Isaiah 40:31a

Today was another perfect sunny Saturday in the recreation yard. I went outdoors this morning from 10 to 11:45 just to sit in the sun. I have been feeling so physically tired, and I am in need of a prolonged rest of some kind.

I say "some kind" of rest because, in prison, there are limitations as to what one can do to obtain rest , or to take a break from routine.

I have no park to walk in to collect my thoughts. There are no open country roads to drive down. And there are no bicycle paths for me to ride along to help relieve the day-to-day stresses of prison life.

For the most part, on weekends, one can either go to the outside recreation yard (which is usually crowded during this warm weather), or a man could stay in his cell in a usually very noisy cellblock.

Today there are no services scheduled in the chapel. Tomorrow there will there will be several services. so for the remainder of this day I will stay in my cell, write a few letters, and spend time with the Lord in prayer.

Anyhow, it was good to get outdoors into the fresh air. Several of my friends were in the yard. Later, the inmate pastor and I went over to another man, Tony.

Tony has been straying from the Lord. He stopped going to the chapel. Yet we had a good talk. And we assured him that Christ is still there for him. That he could make a fresh start.

We then put our hands on Tony's shoulders, and the pastor and I prayed for him.

David Berkowitz

May 11, 2003


Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee.

Isaiah 49:15

This morning during the worship service our choir sounded like angels. The presence of the Lord seemed to overshadow and fill our congregation. Dozens of hands were upraised in praise and adoration to God.

Our inmate spiritual leader brought forth a prolonged prayer that seemed to touch heaven.

Then my chaplain came forth with an anointed message about King Saul and David, comparing those who fall away from the faith to those who continue on to spiritual maturity and victory in the Christian life.

However, there was a lot of pain inside many of the men who came into the chapel. Some showed the grief on their faces, but most tried to hide it. Nevertheless, the Lord revealed to me that there was much pain and grief inside of many hearts this morning.

This was because it's Mother's Day. For no matter how tough a convict tries to act on the ouytside. I have been a prisoner long enough to know that there is often a tremendous amout of pain on the inside. These men miss their families. And each man, I know, remembers better days. Each has suffered loss; he has regrets.

Yet in spite of the crimes and sins of every prisoner who was present at this service, God was touching hearts and bringing hope.

I myself was comforted by the reminder that God loves me. He has something wonderful in store for every person who places his or her faith in Jesus Christ.

Prison inmates, too, are no exception.

Dave Berkowitz

May 15, 2003


With so many tragic things that are going on in this world, everything from the "SARS" epidemic, to tornadoes knocking down homes, to people from all walks of life losing their jobs, I have to be thankful and content just to have my health and a place to live.

Lately I have been ministering to more of the inmates who are in the Intermediate Care Program, where I work and which is part of tne Mental Health system.

It seems that me of these men need someone to talk to. They need words of hope and comfort as the overall level of stress in my facility has increased. And during the past several weeks more of the prisoners appear to be hyperactive and tense, as well as depressed.

I have also been surprised at the mumber of guys who have casually mentioned "suicide" in the course of their conversations with me.

There is one man in particular whom I have been making it my business to speak with each day in order to help him make it through his depression. Oftentimes there's a sad countenance on his face, and he is only in his mid 20s with decades left to serve on his sentence.

In my times of private prayer I have been asking the Lord to draw more of these men closest to Him. But I have found out, too, that while some of the prisoners do not like their periods of depression, they do not want to believe the gospel either.

They do not want to give themselves to Jesus Christ. Thus for may it has been a never ending circle of going in and out of prolonged periods of despair.

And this is no different for many people who are outside of these prison walls. They want to feel comfortable without the Comforter. They each want a sense of peace in their hearts, yet they reject the Prince of Peace.

David Berkowitz

May 16, 2003


Earlier this afternoon an inmate who had been showing signs of being agitated about something, suddenly jumped upon another man who was sitting quietly at a table in theE-North dayroom area. The disturbed prisoner began to pummel the other man with his fists.

The corrections officers quickly responded to the scene and broke up the fight, but not before the victim was hit in the head about six or seven times. He will be okay. Ther was only some minor swelling around his face, and a few black and blue bruises. An event like this is not uncommon in such an environment.

Although the attacker had been exhibiting some mental and behavioral problems during the past few days, much of the time acts like this are the result of pent up anger more than anything else.

Anger is usually the biggest factor in any fight in prison. It may be something seemingly trivial that will set off an altercation. But when it comes down to it, deep-seated and displaced anger is the main cause.

In any event, a short time after this incident was brough under control, and a handful of guards took the aggressor to the "Observation" area in the Mental Health Unit.

He may have to be medicated and held in Observation for a few days. Or he may be returned to his cell by tonight. Either way, he will receive a misbehavior report for his discipinary infraction.

The attacker will probably lose all his priviliges and be confined to his cell for fifteen to thirty days. Then when his punishment time is over, he will rejoin the other men unless he violates the rules again, or unless he becomes overtly psychotic.

David Berkowitz

May 22, 2003


I have not written anything in my journal for a week. It's been somewhat intense at the E-North cellblock where I work, and especially in my own housing unit, D-North. Maybe this is the usual pre-summer tension that many correctional facilities at all security levels experience when the weather begins to get warmer.

More men are going to the recreation yards. Energy levels increase as inmates come out of their winter hibernation.

Men who haven't seen each other as much during the colder months, because they live at different parts of the prison, are now seeing one another more often. Old feuds and unpaid debts come back to memory. Hot summers often result in more fights.

And as for myself, because of my feelings of burnout and exhaustion, I have written less in May. At times I feel the effects of having to give to much of myself to very emotionally needy men. This takes its toll, and I simply need to remain in prayer, waiting upon the Lord to renew my strength, and try to slow the pace and recuperate when I can.

David Berkowitz

May 26, 2003


My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

Lamentations 3:20

Today I did not have to go to my work assignment. I did, however, attend our Memorial Day banquet which was held in the prison's North Complex Conference Room.

Every correctional facility in New York State has a Veteran's Organization which is run and managed by the inmates who are veterans, and who at one time served in one of the five branches of the U. S. Military.

Our chapter here at Sullivan has about fifty men. Each one is doing time for a crime or crimes after his time in the service. Many will be surprised to learn that a sizable portion of convicted felons were also in the Armed Forces serving their country.

I served in the U.S. Army from June 1971 to June 1974. I enlisted the day after I graduated high school. I took my basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. I then took combat infantry training at swampy Fort Polk, Lousiana. My military Occupation Specialty ("MOS" was "11B20"--an infantryman in a mechanized unit.

From Louisiana, after a thirty day leave, I went to South Korea where I was assigned to the 1/17th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantray Division, 8th U.S. Army. I was part of the force that was assigned near the border between North and South Korea (near the DMZ).

I had to be ready in case the forces in Communist North Korea ever made their charge into the South. fortunately this never happened when I was there. But it will happen one day. This is inevitable, unfortunately. There will be a time when the North and South will be at war again.

David Berkowitz

May 27, 2003


Yesterday I shared a little about the special Memorial Day banquet, an even that prison officials let all those who are military veterans attend, if they want to. I went and I had a good time.

It was good for me to have all of yesterday to rest. Many of us who would normally be at our work assignments on Mondays, had the day off. Our gathering was held from 8:30 to 2:45. I was able to spend time talking amongst my friends and reminiscing.

I usually don't get to spend any quality time with most of these men, as they are not Christians and so they almost never attend services in the chapel. So it was good for me to be at this Memorial banquet to represent Jesus Christ.

God worked in mysterious ways, too. For the handful of guys who were sitting at the same dinner table with me, actually asked me to say grace before we ate. Only one other man at the table was a Christian. I guess a day like today humbles people as it causes us to think about those who gave their lives and to remember those who died and why. It was a heavy price!

I myself served three years in the Army. I had more emotional stability during this period of my life than prior to my enlistment at age eighteen. But when I got out of the service and returned to New York City, shortly thereafter my life took a turn for the worst, and here I am 25 years later.

When I returned from my thirteenth month tour of duty in south Korea, I was then assigned as a clerk typist to a basic teraining unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I spent my remaining eighteen months here at Fort Knox until my three year term was finished.

May 28, 2003


Between Memorial Day which just passed and the war in Iraq, which in a sense is still going on, my own military days are coming back into my thoughts.

I joined the Army when I turned eighteen. I had my reasons for enlisting, and all of them seemed logical. Frankly, I'm glad I made this decision. I had a lot of innocent idealism back then. Now I see that I was also emotionally immature. The reality is that the army isn't always an adventure.

In the service I experienced monotony and boredom, as well as some good challenges to grow as a man. I met other soldiers who hailed from all walks of life. I grew up on the Army, at least to an extent.

Yet there was a period, when I was in South Korea, in which I experimented extensively with marijuana and LSD, a hallucinogenic drug. In Asia these drugs seemed to be everywhere. And I was at a rebellious stage in my life. So for a while I turned on and got high.

Now I can look back from the vantage point of today to see that getting high was a big waste of time. In the long run nothing was accomplished.

I could have become a much better and more disciplined soldier had I not got into drugs. I stopped using any drugs when I returned to the States to finish my last eighteen months of my three year enlistment. However I began to use marijuana and some LSD when I got out of the service. These things were prevalent at some of the satanic parties I attended in New York City and Westchester County.


May 29, 2003


My first approximately six months in the service were a blur. Basic Training immediately followed by Advanced Infantry Training went by so fast. It's designed to be this way in this phase of the Army.

My tour of duty in Korea provided me with many experiences. I went out on maneuvers and patrols, sometimes on foot and or traveling inside of an armored personnel carrier, in a region of the world which had the potential for danger. Every month I was here I received and additional $65 in my paycheck for "Hazardous Duty Pay".

Not every soldier received this extra income but only those who entered into or were right next to an area that is known as the "38th Parallel." It is here, near the border which separates the North from the South, that the military considers hazardous.

In Korea there was the daily responsibility and even the boredom at having to stand with my M-16 rifle and other gear, guarding a "restricted travel" bridge over a muddy river near the DMZ.

At other times, especially during our training exercises and sometimes during our patrols, I ended up having to sleep on the side of a mountain in the freezing cold, or in the oppressive heat, or getting drenched during Korea's monsoon season. It was no picnic. Thankfully, however, much of the time I also slept in the barracks.

I was now a nineteen year old away from the United States for the first time. At times I got lonely and homesick. I shared about my drug use in yesterday's journal entry. I often partied with my fellow soldiers during our times off. And I spent some of my money on prostitutes. They were part of the features of any vilage that surrounds an army post.


May 30, 2003


Looking back at this period of my life between the ages of 18 and 21, while I did accomplish some good things during my three years in the Army, I don't believe that I matured all that much on an emotional level.

I went into the service, in part, to search for something. Maybe it was for self-fulfillment. I never found it. Had I truly enjoyed the service I would have re-enlisted. I, however, just wanted to go home.

In the Army, because I was single and I lived on the post, I managed to save a good amount of money. I had about $5,000 in my bank account when I was discharged in June 1974. This was decent money to start out with back then. Even the extra $65 per month that I earned for thirteen straight months when I was in South Korea was considered big pay.

When I was overseas, this extra sixty-five dollars helped me to purchase a fantastic 4-Channel stereo system through the Army's Post Exchange. It was all paid for. I had all the components, including a reel-to-reel tape deck and a turntable for records, shipped directly to my father's apartment in the Bronx. Everything was waiting for me when I came home for good.

I still think about Korea. I loved this country's natural beauty and the rugged mountains. And every inch of arable land was cultivated, mostly for use as rice paddies. There were steppes of rice paddies going up the sides of steep mountains. These people were ingenious and frugal, making good use of every square foot of ground, wasting nothing.

Looking back, I am glad I went into the service. While I never found what I was searching for, I did experience many unique things, and I met some good people, It was worth it. This was a big part of my life.

May 31, 2003


In these past several journal entries I have been sharing about my days in the Army. It was a unique time of both boredom and adventure. I grew up in some ways, and in other ways I did not.

Nevertheless, my own time in the military has given me a deep love and respect for all of America's military personnel. I pray for them and I ask the Lord to watch over each one as well as to bring comfort to all the families who have lost a loved one while he or she was serving in the military.

However, I do wish to state for the record, concerning the veterans banquet which was held in the prison for all the inmates who were eligible to attend, that this event was not paid for by taxpayer's dollars.

Reading over my entries for this week I realized that I neglected this important point. Lest anyone get angry that a group of several dozen prisoners had a once per year banquet, all the expenses for this event--and it really was a simple event with nothing fancy--came out of our pockets.

Throughout the year the Veterans Chapter here at Sullivan Correctional Facility conducts its own fund raiser. We donate small amounts over time so that, when Memorial Day gets here, there is enough in the Veterans Organization's account to buy everything we need.

God does provide.

David Berkowitz


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