With Sammy at the graduation ceremony for formerly incarcerated students at Rutgers University in Newark on Friday Newark, N.J. — We know the story. The absent father who leaves when his son is five-years-old and moves back to Puerto Rico. The single mother, rarely at home because she works long hours to keep her three children fed and pay the rent. The poverty. The crime. The instability. Later, the stepfather who drinks, uses drugs and beats his stepchildren. The child acting up. Dropping out of school. Joining a gang. The robberies. The one that went wrong and left a man dead. Prison.
"Sammy was arrested and sent to a youth house until he was waived up to an adult court. He was evaluated by a court psychologist who determined he could not be rehabilitated by the age of 19. He was given a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence."
Maybe because it's where your heart is most deeply rooted the prisoner stories are my favorites. It's always been impossible for me to understand how as a society we have unlimited willingness to cage folks at $90.000/year here in NYC never asking can we be better served giving 3 folks jobs at $30,000 so petty crime is not the only mechanism for survival.
Wars on the world's poor means never asking the cost... we're ruled by the sickest Mafia.
Congratulations, Chris and Sammy. Just as a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step, So, too, does the redemption of a sick society begin with a single redeemed soul.
As always, Chris Hedges takes my breath away and breaks my heart. Not alone this time, and I’m grateful to you both.
I’d love to hear this article read by Sammy Quiles.
"They are not their crime." I learned something today. Thank you.
Chris, thank you for this story and for your compassionate dedication to justice.
This heart was touched by Sammy’s experiences. Sadness, anger, outrage, disgust, tenderness, love, yearning and the undefinables. The depth of the legalized acting out, the normalization of cruelty, pure meanness, and psycho-emotional ignorance and sociopathy (punitiveness for its own sake) in our people in charge of justice and incarceration and by extension in the political leadership whose legislation structures this hell as it is makes me shudder. Education, community embrace, and love - the healing antidotes for everyone involved, prisoners certainly, but everyone else from USA President, Governors, Mayors. City Councils, School Superintendents, Principals and Teachers. Prison Wardens, and Prison Staff. Prisons must be liberated from corporate control and be publicly run. Absolutely no one should make one penny from imprisoned damaged human beings. We are responsible for our own. Haven’t we enough proof that leaving to the private corporate sector anything where the factor of health is the core value, the corporate culture, a cold dumb but wily beast, destroys it and lies for profit?
CONGRATULATIONS to Sammy and to you, Chris!!! Thank you for your models of courage, truth, and generosity. Very best wishes in all that you do!
" I tell it because until we stop investing in systems of control and start investing in people, especially children, nothing will change. It will only get worse." We humans have become powerless because power for power's sake has overtaken all our other sensibilities. The function of sympathy, empathy and kindness is what is required, but these appear to be feminine functions which some women do well, which means the ruling classes will have to honour us all.
Beautiful. Thank you.
Amen and Hallelujah! The joy vibrated on the screen as I read this beautiful story! And what a great photograph of you and Sammy! Congratulations and best wishes on the road ahead . . .
“We would go through the metal detector and our stuff would be thrown around by an overzealous guard who had a problem with somebody paying for our education,” he says. “We were seen as super-predators, criminals, the irredeemables of the world. If I had a paper I was writing for Chris Hedges, they would throw it on the floor or step on it or rip it up and make me start all over. They would take books from us." Hard to learn this way, but the prisoners showed to be much better persons than the guards, and make me reflect on how different would had been their destinies if they had had a Better environment when they were kids. Another thought that this incident prompted on me is that the guards also need some schooling, perhaps another kind Mr. Hedges that will teach them to become real mensch.
Chris, Thank you for your contributions to our collective community and humanity. You are an amazing, compassionate human being.
I can’t help but notice your clerical collar? So you aren’t against all of Christianity, just a particular subset that you find offensive?
A great saga of redemption and recovery and support from Chris Hedges. Thank you so much for sharing this.
Thanks for writing this…. Hats off to you and Sammy. What a mitzvah!
Well done and CONGRATULATIONS to both of you!