Dear Jonah

     I am writing you this letter because I think we have a lot in common.When I was five years old, I was raised by my Grandmother.Every night before she tucked me in, she would read your story to me.Grandma said that God asked you to do something,but you didn’t want to do it because you were Xenophobic, which means there are certain people you just don’t like.

    I grew up not liking my Mother for leaving me and my Father who was never there.I didn’t like school, I didn’t like my Teachers or my Principal.I had a few friends but they were Xenophobic just like me.I soon realized I didn’t like myself either.I sold drugs to young people, middled age people and sometimes women who were pregnant.I sold to junkies whose minds were already gone and to Fathers with hungry children at home. Sometimes, I smoked more than I sold.The nice clothes, the jewelry and the cars were trinkets to try and fix what was hurting me inside.

    Grandma said that God sent a great storm and a beast of the sea to swallow you when you did not want to do what God asked you to do. I can identify with that.A storm came through and it pushed me down on the concrete with my hands handcuffed behind me: one policeman holding a gun on me : a policeman’s knee in my back and a ten year drug charge staring me in the face.I found out those few friends didn’t like me either, they were using me too!You wanted to run away but the hardest person to run away from is yourself.

     The courts appointed me a lawyer and even though he got my sentence reduced to five years ,his eyes tell me “I am getting what I deserved”.The Judge looked at my charges and gave me my sentence.I looked in his eyes and you know what Jonah.I saw the same thing in the judges eyes.He is probably suffering from Xenophobia too.

     My grandmother said that when the beast of the sea swallowed you, you started praying.You prayed day and night for three days until God made the beast spit you out on dry land”.It took a beast to take you where you were suppose to be.But it was God who gave you a second chance.A chance to get it right.A chance to start over again.

     The day they brought me here to start my five year sentence and I saw what I had to look forward to, I started praying. There are many people here Jonah, people who have made mistakes and are hoping for a chance to get it right.I know that if God released you from the belly of the beast in three days.I know I can make it. I got Five years to ask God to forgive me and to give me another chance like he gave you.

     Some days Jonah it’s real hard. Living in the beast is horrifying.When I first got here, I would have nightmares every night.It would be about someone owing me money and didn’t have it.That meant I couldn’t pay my supplier.I beat him up pretty bad and left him laying in the alley.Even though I heard him say”Please don’t leave me here to die”.

     I am still praying and the terrifying dreams have eased a little and I am starting to like myself again.The day those doors open up I will be free just like you Jonah.Free to go out and make amends.Become a better person by realizing who I am and What I have done.Jonah one day I looked around in the prison there are many people here.Men in this prison and women in another.Mass Incarceration is a beast created by Man.It was created to swallow the poor and helpless. Those who commit crime and who are caught up for many reasons. If they are not careful the beast will swallow them again and again.

On a sunny day when the prisoners are allowed to go out in the yard.You get an idea of whose here. Black,white,Latino Asian.Mass Incarceration is a beast that doesn’t care.But I’m sure if you asked them they would like one more chance to get it right.

P.S. Thank you Jonah for helping me to see who I really am.Grandma sends her love.

Jonah B.

Image: Getty Publishing

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