I ran across this article (click here for full article) from the Peoria Journal Star about a man who died in the Pekin Federal Prison. So far, it appears it was from natural causes. Sadly, in the five years I spent in prison I saw a handful of people die from both natural and unnatural causes, everything from heart attack to suicide to homicide. These were always sad occasions as most of the time the men were unable to speak to their families before passing and usually died without any support. While not an everyday occurrence, these times were a reminder of just how fragile and temporary our lives really are. These times are also tough on our families for when they find out about them they worry we might be next and they have no ability to help us. It is best to be honest about these, and to encourage them to pray and to focus on the opportunities we have to connect.
One of the saddest things I watched in prison was the disintegration of a family. It happened far too regularly and to people of all ages, race and background. One of the goals we have with the Paul Project is to help people maintain their relationships through the prison experience. It is possible. But it takes honesty, work and communication. This article (http://family-studies.org/when-an-imprisoned-parent-isnt-home-for-the-holidays/) highlights the struggles inherent in having one or more parents in prison. For me one of the stats that is most destructive is that close to six in ten incarcerated parents had no personal visits from any of their children in 2010. 84% of parents in federal prisons are held over 100 miles away from their last residence, and 43% over 500 miles away. I saw this first-hand as I spent 5 years in two different prisons and met men who were hundreds of miles away from their families, making it impossible for visits. This i one area I would like to see changed in the Federal system. I would like to make it a requirement that you can’t be placed further than 100 miles from your home.