Educating Others
Red & Black In Prison

Are you interested in the welfare of offenders? Would you visit a prison? Red admits that she answered both questions with an emphatic, "No!" So, what changed her mind? And how did we end up in the criminal justice world? For a quick overview, read our February 2013 column, "Red & Black … Are In Prison?" (Oh, and the question Black said she would one day ask … well, she has been asking it more and more these days.)

"Red" versus "Black" Perspectives:

  • RED (the warm & fuzzy stay-at-home mom): "When we first started on our journey into the prison world, my thought was that these men are criminals and our time should be spent on people in the "free world". And there was certainly no way I would ever visit a prison. However, after watching 11+ hours of raw video footage of the men who voluntarily participated in the pilot program at Stringfellow Unit, they went from being offenders known by their prison identification numbers to people, each with their own stories. Men who wanted better – not only for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren. And, as a mom, I saw hope and opportunity to change not only their lives, but their families. Furthermore, after I watched the last interview, I turned to my sister and told her that I was contacting the chaplain in the morning to arrange for us to meet the men. I wanted to tell them in person how much their words affected me and my outlook on offenders."
  • BLACK (the pragmatic retired business executive): "I appreciate that there may be moral and/or social reasons to help those within the criminal justice system, but put that aside for the moment. The cost of Texas state prisons is approximately $60 a day/person. At $25 per person, our book/program costs less than half a day in prison. In terms of recidivism, if you merely delay their return one day, you have over a 100% ROI (Return on Investment). Anything over that is just gravy. So, if our book/program can possibly contribute to the reduction in recidivism, it is a small investment ... with huge upside potential. And, that does not take into consideration the impact it may have on family members because how do you calculate the financial savings in terms of individuals who might have ended up in prison, but now have taken control of their lives instead of having their lives control them?"