NEW YEAR'S DAY
It doesn't seem like a new year at all. On New Year's Eve my
cellblock was very quiet. There's a whole different atmosphere now than last year at this time.
Most of the prisoners seemed very subdued. I think there is
a sense of something in the air, not of a prison disturbance or anything like this, but it's something else.
I cannot describe this feeling or sense of something or other
than it being some kind of inner knowing that life is changing in America.
There's a different attitude now, especially since the 9/11
terrorist attacks as well as our ever worsening economic situation. The men can pick up these vibes, I believe. We just know
and sense that 2003 may be different for us and for America than previous years.
I know I am being vague. Maybe I'm not making sense. But there
are changes that are taking place in society now, and the men know this. There is an uneasiness beneath the smiles on faces
and the "business as usual" attitude of the Prison administration.
Meanwhile I thank the Lord for seeing me through another year.
I have passed through a series of spiritual storms, and no doubt there will be more to come.
I ask the Lord to continue to use my life for His glory as
well as to be a blessing to others. And as always, I pray for the families of the victims of my crimes.. They are entering
another year without their loved one and I am responsible for causing these people so much pain along with grief that will
never go away.
I cannot change the past but I wish that I could. May the future
be better for them.
January 2, 2003
I know the calling that God has placed upon my life, and I
long to be faithful to see it fulfilled.
With this being the start of a new year it is fashionable,
I suppose, to make all kinds of resolutions, promises and pledges. I, however, will do none of these things. People from all
walks of life do these things in their own strength and with their good intentions. But what is the value of mere human effort?
I will make no vows or promises. Instead I want to put myself
at the feet of God's throne of grace to ask Him for help in going on.
As trials and tribulations and discouragements assail me, I
do not want to ever give up. I may grow weary, true. But it is not a sin to be tired and worn. For even Jesus faced these
things. Though He was God, yet He was human. This is a mystery.
For myself I can only say what is in my heart. I have a calling
from a God who desires that I remain faithful. Yet I have very real enemies both within and without..
Within are my lusts, and my flesh must be be brought under
subjection every day. Without are my enemies, the haters of David Berkowitz, who will not be satisfied until I am dead and
my testimony is destroyed.
Still I must continue learning to be content with what God
has for me. For I know there is more to this life than living and dying. There is within my soul a yearning for God, to truly
know God and to fellowship with Him.
This divine calling is in me. Each day it points me towards
my heavenly home. And perhaps soon I will be there to forever behold my Creator face to face.
January 3, 2003
I could not believe my eyes. I was walking down the main corridor
this morning when, coming in the opposite direction was Mack.
I wrote about Mack in my journal entries for December 4,5,6,
and 7. On December 4th he was escorted to the "Box" as a result of some serious charges for breaking prison rules.
As a friend, I cared about this man and I was sad to see him
hauled off to isolation. Many of the guys said that he might get up to one year in solitary.
Mack and I had our talks about God. He even went to the chapel
once to watch a Christian movie, and he attended a few of our regular chapel services.
I thought I may never see Mack again. Now here he was coming
down the long corridor.
We're not allowed to stop in the hallways to hang out and talk.
But we did stop for a handful of seconds to hug and greet each oather.
In our brief moment of conversation Mack told me that he beat
the charges that had been leveled against him.
Perhaps ninety-eight per ent of the time inmates are found
guilty when they go to their disciplinary hearing. So this was a miracle!
It is so rare that a prisoner, once he is charged with something
serious enough to warrant going to solitary confinement as opposed to the normal disciplinary punishment of confining a man
to his cell, to be found "Not Guilty" of all charges.
What happened to Mack is unheard of. Now he is out of a 23
hour per day cell confinement. And while he's no longer in my cellblock, at least he is still in the general population.
I hope to see him again soon.
January 4, 2003
Little by little, and in many ways, the Lord allows people
from all walks of life to come across my testimony in various ways.
God uses it, I believe, to let them know that there is hope
for them. That no one has done so much bad that they cannot be forgiven, and that God truly loves them.
I am also grateful for my friends in various places who have
been so kind and willing to share my story of redemption, not for my sake, but for the sake of those who do not know Jesus
Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Thus I thank my dear friends from Michigan--they know who they
are--for sharing my testimony pamphlet as well as THE CHOICE IS YOURS video with the women they minister to at the Dickerson
Jail in the City of Hamtamyck near the Detroit area.
According to a recent letter, my friends told me that ten women
have received Jesus Christ as their Savior after either hearing about my testimony and/or by watching the video. I rejoice
in this news!
And I pray that each of these women will continue to grow in
the Christian faith. That they will all come to fully understand just how much Jesus loves them, and that He has truly forgiven
each of them for their sins, forever.
January 12, 2003
When an inmate I am close to gets released from prison, it's
like losing a dear friend. While I am happy to see him leaving prison, I wll miss his company. I may never see him again on
this side of eternity, either.
I also worry about how his life will turn out. The "streets"
are fraught with dangers and temptations. And Wendell Judd can be like a lamb going to the slaughter in such an environment.
I know that he truly desires to lead a law-abiding life. When
he was with me he often talked about his family and how he longed to rejoin them. But the reality is, for many who are getting
out of prison, this is easier said than done.
For I have seen to many men return to prison having left with
the best of intentions. But when they got back to their respective neighborhoods, they were met with rejection and ostracism
because of their criminal records.
The only ones, it seems, who showed them any acceptance were
the drug pushers and other ex-cons.
In truth many doors are closed to a man coming out of the penitetiary.
A vicious and unmcerciful cycle of unforgiveness exists, and only a few succeed in "making it" and never return to jail.
Thus when Wendell Judd was released on November 2002 (see my
Journal entry for this date), I was both elated and sad.
He had been such a blessing to us here at Sullivan Correctional
At the time he left I did not know how he would fare, although
I know his faith in God was strong.
But today, however, I was overjoyed to hear the good report
from a minister who came to join us for a worship servece, that Wendell Judd is doing great.
January 13, 2003
In yesterday's journal entry I shared about Wendell Judd, a
wonderful Christian man who was a blessing to me and to all the brethren here at the prison.
On Novemaber 15, 2002 he was released and he returned to his
community in Albany, New York. And like many of the men who eventually get out, he was unsure of what awaited him on the "outside".
The world can be a hostile and unforgiving place. And even
his his own family have managed to get on with their lives and move on without him.
So from this time warped existence, it left brother Judd to
rebuild his life and to start over again.
So few men make a successful re-adjustment. But I and the other
Christians prisoners left all this in God's hands. And the Lord did not disappoint us!
As I began to mention at the end of yesterday's journal, the
church behind these walls received word that Wendell is doing fine. He found a church congregation in the Albany area who
opened their doors to him. He now has an older Christian man and an "elder" of the church to mentor Wendell and to hold him
And Wendell is currently singing in their choir just like he
was doing when he was there.
I breathed a sigh of relief at this news, and I thanked the
January 28, 2003
Presently the Lord has me remaining still and waiting, and
simply resting in His love (Zephaniah 317) while the Holy Spirit refreshes my spirit.
I had been through so many trials during the second half of
2002, that when the new year came I was at the pont of having little strength. I was exhausted, weary and drained. But this
Now I believe the Lord wants to renew my strength. He is going
to provide me with a fresh annointing and a fresh refill of inner spiritual oil for my "lamp" (my temple). So for now this
holding pattern continues.
Other than handling my daily correspondence, going to my work
assignment, attending the various chapel services and Bible studies, as well as spending time with my brothers in the faith
to pray with and encourage them, I have slowed my pace down a lot. And this will continue until the Lord directs otherwise.
January 30, 2003
THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE
It looked as if he was thinking of killing himself. I could
see it in his face, a face that was awash with tears. I've seen this look before.
This afternoon I had the opportunity to talk with a man who
was obviously contemplating suicide. He was crying when I walked by his cell. He saw me and quickly tried to avert his eyes.
But I caught a glimpse of that certain look. And when I stopped to ask him what was wrong he began to cry all the more.
His name is "Joe T." He has a history of "cut-ups" (*) and
other suicide attempts. He has been in prison for about fifteen years.
Joe. T. came to jail when he was in his late teens having been
charged with murdering another man in what police officially listed as a robbery. But Joe once told me that he knows that
the guys who did it were trying to impress other gang members.
Joe grew up in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, a borough
in New York city. He was at the age when many teens in his drug infested neighborhood longed to be gangsters. He is a high
school dropout with an extremely low reading level.
Till this day he proclaims his innocence. He told me that he
was only passing by a storefront when the victim was shot to death by another young man. That he simply walked off, minding
his business and not wanting to get involved, when the police picked him up a few blocks away.
A witness ultimately pointed to Joe as the gunman.
(*) In prison jargon, to cutup" or "cutting up" refers to slashing
one's wrist or other parts of the body
January 31, 2003
THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE
After talking with Joe for awhile I had to tell the officers
on duty that this man was showing the classic signs of being suicidal.
They went over to speak with Joe. Then after about five minutes
of talking with him, they went back to their desk to make a few phone calls to report the situation to various members of
the prison's mental health staff. They're required to do this.
And when they were done speaking with Joe I went back over
to him to chat some more. He had begun to give away some of his personal items like new towels and clothes to his friends.
This is a bad sign and a clear cry for help.
So I told those guys to hang on to Joe's things until he got
his head together. None of his friends realy wanted any thing from him. They understood that he was very depressed and was
not thinking clearly.
Then awhile later one of the facility's mental health staff
came into the cellblock. I talked with her a bit before she went to talk with Joe.
Since he can hardly write I would sometimes help Joe write
letters to his mother or sisters. I know that he wants to go home, and his family wants him home. Yet no amount of wishing
can get a man out of prison.
Now as it turned out, after interviewing Joe, the mental health
staff member determined that he would not have to be placed on a special suicide watch. If he had to go this route it would
have entailed his getting taken out of his regular cell and placed in a special observation cell in the Mental Health Unit.
I will keep my eye on Joe and stop by to talk and pray with
him when I can.