Salvation Through a Pad and a Pen

By Eve Pearce
row of prison cells

It is amazing how much writing can help somebody to unlock their potential and turn their life around. All some people need is an outlet for their creativity in order to get onto the right track. One of the best examples of this is a friend who I shall refer to as “Stevie.” When we were growing up, Stevie was a pleasant, happy kid. He was nice and polite to everyone and never put a foot out of place. Nobody would ever have expected that he would become a criminal in later life.

Stevie continued to be personable and affable into his late teens. When he was eighteen, he learned to drive and we would cruise about together, enjoying the excitement that was to be gained from having a set of wheels at our disposal. He was a typical adolescent driver, honking at girls and turning his speaker system up to full volume.

However, as is the case with many younger drivers, Stevie’s lack of experience soon led to an accident. He hit the back of a truck one day and went straight through the front windscreen, leaving him with significant scarring on his face.

Scarred for life

The injuries that Stevie sustained were not life threatening but damaged his self-confidence. He developed a condition known as social anxiety disorder, which is characterized by fear of social situations.

The Stevie that I once knew was now a thing of the past. He spent most of his time indoors and struggled even to talk to his closest friends, stuttering and stammering his words and obviously struggling. The accident had stripped him of his ability to socialize.

Descent into crime

Stevie’s condition left him feeling useless. He completed a university degree but felt that inability to muster up the courage to speak during job interviews would prevent him from ever finding meaningful employment—so he embarked upon a life of crime instead. He started off selling marijuana and soon progressed to cocaine, using his newfound edginess as a mask for his anxiety. Stevie was still just as scared of meeting people as ever but covered it up with fake aggression and attempted to be somebody that he was not. When he was twenty-three, Stevie sold drugs to an undercover police officer and received a prison sentence.individual prison cell

Discovering his talent

Stevie expected his time inside prison to be a living hell, but it was in there that he discovered that he had a talent. In order to pass the time behind his cell door, he would write about his experiences and soon realized that he had a gift.

Everybody he showed his writing to remarked upon how well he captured the details of prison. He soon had prisoners approaching him to help them put their lives into words.

A new beginning

Stevie left prison knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He was still very socially phobic despite having been locked up with other people 24/7, but decided that it was not going to hold him back from making something of himself. He set out to become a writer. He sent articles to magazines and newspapers and soon had regular slots in several publications. Nowadays he makes a living from his work. Although he is yet to cure himself of his condition, he no longer needs to rely upon crime for his income. He is now a full-time freelance writer.

Although he committed immoral acts in the past, Stevie is by no means a bad person. He is somebody who made mistakes and allowed the trials and tribulations that cropped up in his life to drive him to partake in illegal activity.

Writing was his savior. It not only provided him with a living but also gave him an outlet to express his feelings so that he did not keep them bottled up and grow depressed about them. His story is a testament to the rehabilitative powers of putting pen to paper. By tapping into people’s talent for the written word, we can unleash their true potential and help then to become valuable members of society.

Eve Pearce is a full-time feature writer as well as an art and photography aficionado. She has written for numerous sites on various topics over the past few years.

Images provided by Eve Pearce.

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Three ways literature can help criminal offenders make better decisions

By Jack Meyers

As alternative sentencing gains in popularity, many will wonder just how this form of “punishment” enlightens offenders. Instead of sticking people in jail to think about what they have done—usually devising better ways to be criminals—literature and support groups can help offenders realize how their decisions affect those around them.

Characters and stories in literature can impact how an individual processes information. A well written novel correlating to an offender’s specific crime can create more of a positive impact on the offender’s mind, compared to being locked up. How can literature be so inspiring to those who read it?

1. Caring about what happens
Well written novels can develop characters that readers can connect with on an emotional level. These connections can stir emotions as tribulations unfold within the novels causing readers to care about what happens to the characters.

Connecting with literary characters can lead offenders to emotionally bond with the stories. Understanding the characters’ decisions can help offenders begin to understand why circumstances happen and how to deal with them in ways other than breaking the law.

2. Analyzing the affects of actions
If offenders can discover how their actions affect the world around them, it could lead to enlightening realizations of how their actions hurt those involved.

The imagination is a powerful tool. It can create objects of wonder or items of destruction. Using their imaginations could help them realize the damage they have wrought with their actions. By helping offenders analyze their circumstances in relation to literature, there is a good chance that they will have an epiphany about their own experiences and how their surroundings were affected.

3. Getting support
One of the most important aspects of alternative sentencing through literature is the presence of supportive individuals who help offenders discuss the nature of each chosen novel.
Most of the support groups using alternative sentencing methods consist of visits by parole officers and the judges who sentenced the offenders. This could be a vital piece of the puzzle—it shows the offenders that there are those that care about whether they succeed or not.

Whether it is the Bible or a coveted novel, the stories and characters in books can reveal a lot about who you are. This isn’t saying that books can cure all criminal intentions, but they can go a long way in helping some offenders see how their actions can lead to a ripple effect in the pond of life.

Jack Meyers is a regular contributor for www.nannybackgroundcheck.com. As a detective he wants to spread the knowledge of the terrible things that can happen when people don’t fully verify the credentials of a caregiver or any employee. He also writes for various law enforcement blogs and sites.

Have you taken our poll, yet?

On January 5, 2013, we asked:  What topics are you most interested in reading about on this blog? We appreciate all the responses we’ve received so far.

If you have not yet taken our poll, please do so now by going to our January 5, 2013 post.

Here are the responses so far, as of 10:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time today.

Responses to our Jan. 5, 2013 poll as of Jan. 15. 2013.

Responses to our Jan. 5, 2013 poll as of Jan. 15, 2013.

We’ll post a new essay next week.

Have a great day, everyone.

-Nancy, blog editor