About 12 years ago, a baby bird fell out of one of the palm trees here at Terminal Island Federal Institute. The little bird was a Black Crown Night Heron, and was in desperate need of help, or it wouldn’t survive. It fell into a place full of criminals, yes, but, also a place of people who knew what it was like to suffer, and therefore showed compassion.
These convicted felons began to care for “Shorty” and nursed him back to health. He now lives here with all of us as one of us. He stands by his bowl twice a day after swooping down from the sky in hopes of being fed. And somehow, has never lost any weight. He also now has a son by the name of Junior. He also comes by daily. They often come right up to the door awaiting the men to be released. [They are probably here for flying without FAA permission.]
I have been a pastor in Los Angeles since 1984. I am sentenced to 41 years for a crime that I was offered a 2 year plea deal for. But after exercising my constitutional right to go to trial, a 39 year “trial penalty” was added to my sentence for the trouble I put the government to, to convict me. It doesn`t matter that my attorney neglected my evidence to save his own law license. What matters is, I am trained to see the best in people and I marvel at inmates who have cared for Shorty and Junior for so long. There must be something good in them somewhere.
Which is why 13 years ago, I came up with a plan for prison reform that would make our existence useful, and help us be a blessing to society and a solution to problems and not the cause. See prisonreformact.org. Where model inmates can learn helpful skills from disaster relief, fire fighting, EMT, search and rescue, and environmental cleanup. Then after years of service can experience a sentence reduction. Please get behind prison reform, in a country that has five times the per capita prisoners to population. For not only Shorty needs help but we do too. — Dino G.