“THEIR words about HIS Word”

 “For the Word of God is alive and powerful.”    Hebrews 4:12 NLT

      There was a time in this country when the Word of God was a part of daily life; when His Word provided guidance and inspiration in our schools; when our civic leaders turned to His Word for wisdom; when it wasn’t offensive to believe that God meant something in this country and publicly professing a belief in Him and His Word was not an impingement on someone’s rights.

      In fact, there was a time in this country when it was considered a good thing to know God’s Word and to look to it for help in navigating the stormy seas of daily life.

      Somewhere along the line, a few people who didn’t know God and didn’t believe in Him or His Word, exercised their right to speak – and everyone else fell silent. The Supreme Court listened, though, and over time has ruled repeatedly to remove the single best source of moral guidance the world has ever known from public buildings, schools, courthouses – all public places where the love of God and the guidance and wisdom found in His Word is needed the most.

      The Supreme Court of this great land has forced the removal of God’s Word from all public places where someONE might be offended by the humility it should bring to man and the inspiration it is capable of providing. This has all gone on while that same court tries to insist that a nation NOT guided by the Word of God was what the founding fathers of this country intended from the very beginning.

      Somehow this country has allowed our government, and the Supreme Court, to make laws and put forth legal rulings that favor the rights of one over the country as a  whole, and it is simply not possible to govern effectively – or fairly – in that manner. We have allowed a few misguided, disgruntled voices to insist that their rights somehow supersede all others’. We have allowed the vast majority to be silenced so the few can be heard. In doing, we have tried to ignore and deny that which simply can NOT be ignored or denied no matter how high the court is or the reasons it gives for its ill-advised rulings:

      That this country was fought for, and founded, by men who had GOD in mind and his WORD in hand.

      But don’t take my word for it. Read the words of those who founded, fought for, and have led this country as they offer THEIR words on HIS Word:

      “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”    George Washington

      “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond, the principals of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”     John Quincy Adams

      “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”   Thomas Jefferson

      “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”     John Adams

      “As to Jesus Of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.”   Benjamin Franklin

      “Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian.”   Thomas Jefferson

      “This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”    Patrick Henry

      “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.”   Thomas Jefferson

      “I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”    Benjamin Franklin

      “Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.”    attributed to William Penn

      “I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”  T. Jefferson

      “There is no solid basis for civilization but in the Word of God. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will continue to prosper.”  Daniel Webster

      “This is a book worth more than all other books which were ever printed.”  Patrick Henry

      “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.” A. Lincoln

      “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in.” A. Lincoln

      “I have only to say that it is the best gift God has given to man.”  A. Lincoln

      “I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming and I know His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me – and I think He has – I believe I am ready.”  A. Lincoln

      “This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, that government of the people, for the people, and by the people shall not perish from this earth.”  A. Lincoln

      “The Bible is the Rock on which this republic rests.”  Andrew Jackson

      “Hold fast to the Bible. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”   Ulysses S. Grant

      “Conscience is the authentic voice of God to you.”  Rutherford B. Hayes

      “”The more profoundly we study this wonderful book, and the more closely we observe its divine precepts, the better citizens we will become and the higher we will see the destiny of our nation.”  William McKinley

      “A man has deprived himself of the best there is in the world, who has deprived himself of this: Knowledge of the Bible. When you have read the Bible, you will know the Word of God because you have found the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty.”  Woodrow Wilson

      “Our doctrine of equality and humanity comes from our belief in the brotherhood of man through the Fatherhood of God.”  Calvin Coolidge

      “The sum of the whole matter is this: That one civilization cannot survive materially unless it is redeemed spiritually.”  Woodrow Wilson

      “With a good conscience our only sure reward, and with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must surely be our own.”  J.F.K.

      “Inspiration has been the keynote of America’s phenomenal growth. Inspiration has been the backbone of America’s greatness. Inspiration has been the difference between defeat and victory in America’s wars. And the inspiration has come from faith in God, faith in the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, and faith in the belief that the Bible is the Holy Word of God.”  J. Edgar Hoover

      “This country can not afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.” J.F.K.

      All of the men quoted here were very different from one another in many ways, as most people are, but they were very much alike in their love of this country and their love of God. There also seems to be agreement among them that in order to have decency, respect, morality, kindness, truth and freedom, the Word of God must be a part of this country and the lives of the people in it.

      Like it or not.

      Agree with it or not.

      I am just sharing with you THEIR words on His Word.

Thank you.

Giving A Voice To The Victims

“My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God.”   – Cormac McCarthy , “The Road”

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”    – Psalm 127:3 NLT

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the sea. – Jesus Matthew 18:6 NLT

I pray daily.

I pray from the depths of my heart. Often my prayers go something like this:”Lord give me the wisdom that will enable me to write words that will somehow make a difference in someone’s life. Illuminate my path and lead my heart and my hand to a way of communicating that will help me to do my part to leave this world that you created, and the people in it, in a better way than I found them.”

I struggle with that concept, for the world and the people in it are in dire need of God Himself. What can a mere man do – a man who is in prison, no less – to change or improve anything for anyone?

Praying for an answer to that question, the path is suddenly made clear and I am led to the words of Helen Keller: “I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything. But still, I can do something. I will not refuse to do something I can do.”

With the encouragement of my editor and inspired by the courage of a very special individual who wrote to me and wishes to share thoughts about their own struggle with being sexually abused, I have decided that I can do this: I can, in a very small way, give a voice to victims of sexual abuse.

Some cannot or will not speak for themselves, so I will humbly – and most likely inadequately – endeavor to use my voice on their behalf. Others, like the young person who I am sure God is using to help me find my way, will speak for themselves.

That is my hope.

That is my prayer.

That collectively, all of our voices will be heard clearly around the world with the knowledge that, together, we are more than one and with God lighting the way, the something we can do can change things, if only just a little.

We cannot change the whole world. We cannot change everything.  But we can change something. We simply must not refuse to change the something we can.


–  According to an Associated Press story I read some time ago, forty eight women are raped hourly in the Congo. The article went on to state that 400,000 women were raped in a twelve-month period between 2006 and 2007.

–  A more recent· AP story showed a horrific photo of a fifteen-year-old child bride in Afghanistan who was viciously tortured and sexually abused in her in-laws’ basement for six months. They ripped out her fingernails, broke her fingers, and tortured her with hot irons – all in attempts to force her into prostitution

–  According to a report by RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, in which statistics from the U.S. Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and various others quoted, there are 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in this country. That’s the equivalent of one every two minutes.

– Also according to RAINN, in 1995 (the only year for which I had statistics) local child protection agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse. Of that number, 75% were girls. 30% of them were between the ages of four and seven. Of the assailants, 34% were family members, 59% were family acquaintances. Only 7% were strangers to the victim.

The first person to lend their voice here knew the assailant very well. While the victim does not offer specifics about the abuse or the individual responsible, the victim’s Christian-based thoughts are centered on healing and forgiveness – a healing and forgiveness made possible by a strong support system and the understanding that sustained, professional counseling will help with the pain and suffering, the life-long wounds sexual abuse leaves on a person’s soul.

As society struggles to determine how best to deal with the perpetrators of sexual abuse, the victims struggle to deal with recovering from the abuse itself.

How does one go about reclaiming something that has been taken in a way that leaves the victims feeling responsible somehow? Leaves them feeling less than whole? Leaves them feeling alone, isolated, abandoned and ashamed?

Here, then, is the voice of a victim:

I applaud the courage and determination of the person whose words you find in the next article in this series.  I applaud the commitment to heal and help the one who wronged.

If anyone would like to share a story in a future article or comment without your e-mail address being published, please write to: oakdaletoc@gmail.com.

We did something at least. We can do more.

I thank you.

Send your stories to:      oakdaletoc@gmail.com

The Gift

       As you all exchange gifts this year with those you love, take time to remember the greatest gift that was ever given. The gift that God gave to all of those He loved – the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

      In a booklet I read recently from RBC Ministries entitled “The Amazing Names of the Messiah”, I discovered the following: “We often have a low view of the miraculous, and therefore a limited sense of wonder.”

      I look back on when my son was just an infant. The memory of him lying on top of me, barely filling the space between my chin and my waist; the scent of his hair; the movement of his perfect, tiny fingers; the beating of his little heart – all of these things come flooding back to my consciousness today and fill me with a sense of wonder, and an appreciation of the miracle of life itself.

      Could I give you that miracle as an expression of my love? No – I think I’ll keep him for myself.

      But then – I am not God.

      I am, however, profoundly and humbly thankful and appreciative for the gift given to us all, so long ago. In the chaos and confusion as you race to the malls for those last minute gifts for those YOU love, take just a few seconds to look up and say, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you very much.”

Merry Christmas

“Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: A Nap, A Party, and A Birthday Gift”

 “We make decisions, and then our decisions make us.”      R. W.Boreham

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.”     James 5:13a NLT

            Each one of us makes decisions many times every single day. Most of the decisions we make are very minor, inconsequential ones that have little, or no, real impact on our day-to-day existence. Still others have a slightly greater effect on the course we are on and then, at a few points in our lives, major decisions are made with prior, full knowledge of the life-altering potential of those decisions: decisions on which college to attend – or whether to go at all; to get married; to get divorced; to change jobs; start a business or even to start a family.

            And then there are those decisions that are born in the first category that – for some seemingly unfathomable reason – grow up having a totally unexpected, unplanned, and profound effect on the person making the decision and – usually – many others around that person.

            Most of the decisions that wind up in this category have tragic consequences. Some have criminal consequences. Still others have both.

            I am going to “introduce” you to several people that I don’t actually know. In one case, I don’t even know the individual’s name, but as the circumstances surrounding their decisions unfold, hopefully we will all realize that we do, in fact, know them (or someone just like them), and the names are not important, just as where they live is neither relevant or significant.

            What will be important is what each of us discovers about ourselves as we consider the circumstances of these people and the effects of the decisions that they made – on themselves and those around them.

            Teresa Chapin, 37, of Council Bluffs, Iowa made a decision to put a 5 month old child down for a nap at a daycare she owned.

            In Des Moines, Iowa, 17 year old KeeVon Bernstine, a prominent member of the Lincoln High School football team, made a decision to go to a party.

            And way over is Las Vegas, Nevada, the granddaughter of Claudette Porter, 75, made a decision to give a very special birthday gift to her grandmother.

            As a result of these three seemingly innocuous decisions, there were 3 deaths, 1 person was hospitalized, 2 people were jailed, and many lives were affected, several in ways that can never be adequately described through the black-on-white words of a man sitting in prison for decisions he made.

            Here, then, are the stories of a nap, a party, and a birthday gift:

            On August 17, 2011, Teresa Chapin put 5 month old Lane Thomas down for a nap. It was about 2:30 pm. When Ms. Chapin’s young daughter went to get him at 4 pm she “found his cold, unresponsive body lying face down.” Ms. Chapin performed CPR. Someone called 911.

            Lane had been placed on an adult bed for his nap. After an autopsy, the infant’s death was attributed to “sudden unexplained infant death.”

            Ms. Chapin voluntarily surrendered her license to operate her daycare on August 25. She was arrested early in October and charged with “neglect of a dependent person”, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and “child endangerment”, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

            According to the story in “The Des Moines Register”, Sheriff Jeff Danker said, “Teresa is a licensed day care provider in the state of Iowa and has experience and education about child development needs. A provider should have been aware of the hazards of excessive bedding for an infant the age of Lane Thomas.”

            Teresa Chapin made a decision to place 5 month old Lane Thomas on an adult bed for a nap and, tragically, he died, and she now faces up to 15 years in prison.

            We will discuss this tragedy further, but right now, let’s tell the story of KeeVon Bernstine’s decision to go to a party.

            According to police, Bernstine had been at a party on July 17, 2010 when a 20 year old “female acquaintance” informed him that she no longer wanted to speak to him.

            In an article in the “Des Moines Register”, Bernstine “reportedly became upset and started yelling at her. When she yelled back, Bernstine allegedly slammed her against a car and punched her in the face knocking her out.”

            Witnesses reportedly saw the assault and took the woman to the hospital, but not before Bernstine had “kicked the alleged victim in the head twice while she was unconscious, authorities said, which caused swelling, bleeding, and numbness to the left side of her face.”

            He was not charged in this incident until early October, for some reason. Bernstine is facing 5 years in prison for “willful injury causing bodily injury”, a Class ‘D’ felony, as well as 1 year in prison or an $1875.00 fine for “assault causing bodily injury” which is a “serious misdemeanor”.

            KeeVon Bernstine made a decision to go to a party where he made another decision. He decided – “allegedly” – to react so violently to rejection by a “female acquaintance” that he punched her in the face, knocking her out. Then kicked her in the head twice as she lay there unconscious – absolutely, totally, completely defenseless.

            For these brutally violent actions Bernstine faces – if convicted – a maximum of 6 years in prison.

            It must be stressed, of course, that both parties are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Again, we will come back to Mr. Bernstine in a moment, but first, our third – and final story. The story of the very special birthday gift.

            According to Jim Porter, his wife Claudette, 75, had talked about going skydiving for 20 years. A granddaughter – for whom no name was given in the brief “USA Today” article I read – went to veteran instructor James Fonnesbeck to purchase a special birthday gift for her grandmother: A “Skydiving Adventure”.

            During the tandem jump – where the instructor and “student” are harnessed together, the primary parachute failed to deploy fully. The instructor pulled the cord to release the backup parachute, but it got tangled up and failed to open as well.

            Claudette Porter and Mr. Fonnesbeck plunged to their deaths.

            Fortunately, Claudette Porter’s granddaughter was not arrested. This fact is probably the only bright spot to be found in any of these stories.

            The article did not state who was present, but I imagine that, at the very least, Jim Porter and the granddaughter were there, sharing this special occasion with Mrs. Porter. What I cannot imagine is their shock and utter horror as the realization hit them that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong.

            I ask all of you to turn to the Lord with me and pray for the man who watched his wife, as well as another human being, fall to their deaths as a longtime dream come true turned into a nightmare of horror and a lifetime of loss. I ask all of you to join me in prayer for the granddaughter as well. She is undoubtedly devastated that her well-intentioned gift of love turned into a tragedy of death and she will probably claim responsibility for it, and suffer through it, for a long time to come.

            Obviously, this innocent decision to give a special birthday gift to someone she loved has altered the course of her life. It has altered the course of Jim Porter’s life as well as the lives of all the rest of Claudette Porter’s friends and family. Finally, it has altered the lives of the family and friends of the instructor, James Fonnesbeck, and we must also pray for them as well.

            In the case of Teresa Chapin, she made a decision that parents, grandparents, and babysitters have made for probably as long as there have been beds. I am guilty of doing the same thing with both my daughter and my son. Fortunately, the dozens of times I made that same decision did not result in the same tragic ending as Ms. Chapin’s did.

            A child is dead and his parents – well, suffice it to say that it is doubtful many of us can comprehend the depth of their pain. We can, however, offer prayers that God will wrap them up in His love and give them comfort in their time of sorrow.

            At the same time, we should also ask God to wrap Ms. Chapin and her daughter in that same love for this tragedy has effectively, irrevocably, altered the course of both of their lives.

            The article did not give the age of Ms. Chapin’s daughter, but given her own age of 37, most likely she is in her teens. Can any of us possibly imagine trading places with that young woman as she reaches out to wake Lane from his nap, only to feel his “cold, unresponsive body”?

            I shudder to the very core of my being as I try to envision what it must have been like as the reality of the situation began to sink in and reveal itself to her.

            I can almost hear the shocked screams of disbelief and horror as she cried out to her mother, and I can almost feel the ensuing chaos and confusion as CPR was administered and 911 was called.

            And I can almost feel their agonizing helplessness as the fact that this tiny boy was to never go home to his parents again began to penetrate and take root in their minds.

            There is no doubt that the effects of this tragedy will stay with all concerned for the rest of their lives.

            As for the decision to charge Ms. Chapin with a criminal act, I honestly cannot comprehend what possessed the local authorities to do so, but the only purpose that can possibly be served is to complete the devastation of Teresa Chapin’s life, to say nothing of her daughter’s.

            There will be no winners here, that she – her business – will be held liable for civil damages is a certainty, though obviously any settlement will fall pitifully short of replacing what was lost to Lane’s family.

            It seems sadly typical of today’s society, though, to label a tragic accident as a criminal act as if doing so can somehow help. We seem to do that more and more these days and use the law as if it were a magic salve capable of wiping away pain.

            Seriously – what victories are to be won here? What can possibly be achieved? I, for one, think the point has already been driven heartbreakingly home.

            May God bless, and help, them all. And may God also help a society that things making things worse somehow makes them better.

            Of course, now we are left with the story of KeeVon Bernstine.

            Although Lane Thomas died in August, charges were not filed against Ms. Chapin until early October. The day the story of her arrest appeared on the front page of the “Des Moines Register”, Bernstine’s story appeared on page two of the sports section under the heading “High School Football”.

            That fact told me that, perhaps this story was less about a brutal attack on an unconscious, defenseless young woman, and more about the impact of the arrest of the alleged perpetrator of that attack on high school football.

            Another testament to the misplaced priorities of this country. (Something I can certainly feel free to speak about since no one’s priorities were more misplaced than my own.)

            According to the story, Bernstine had rushed for 946 yards and 15 touchdowns in the first six games of the season. Quite impressive to say the least.

            The director of activities at Lincoln High School, Phil Chia, said that the incident was a Des Moines Public School “Code of Conduct” violation and that the punishment for a violation was suspension for a third of the schedule or, in this case, three games.

            The article went on to state that his coach was surprised with Bernstine’s arrest and that he was “disappointed” in him. “I know him real well,” the “Register” quoted Coach Tom Mihalovich as saying. “He’s got a good heart.”

            I would agree, coach. It takes an individual with a very good heart to punch a woman unconscious and then brutally kick her in the head – twice – as she lay there totally defenseless.

            I do hope, however, that his heart is now helping him to pray to God daily, thanking Him that the young woman didn’t die, asking for forgiveness, and also asking that there be no permanent physical damage to her although the fact that she will undoubtedly suffer long-term mental and emotional damage is a given. May God help her through all that she faces.

            Of course, all of this is only “alleged”.

            If true, however, Bernstine should spend a little time in prison, since prisons should exist only to house violent offenders, and if this is not a violent act, then I don’t know what is.

            I do pray that he can change, that he wants to change, and that he asks God to help him change, but it is important to note that this was not a little after-school fistfight in the parking lot that can be chalked up to “boys will be boys”. This was a wanton act of inexcusable violent behavior that could easily have ended with the young woman’s death, or permanent disability. It was an act that should require at least some length of incarceration combined with intensive anger management counseling and he should not be allowed to touch a football for any school again.

            But wait a minute! 946 yards and 15 touchdowns in 6 games? This is a young man who could go places! I mean, aside from his on-the-field performance he is already exhibiting the very unprofessional character of many of today’s professional athletes and sports figures.

            Perhaps his talent had something to do with why it took so long to arrest him in the first place.

            It must be noted that a follow-up article in the same paper (and also in the sports section) the day after the first article reported that he had been kicked off the team and not merely been suspended.

            That would be the least that the public could expect, I think, and I certainly applaud that decision, but one has to wonder if Bernstine’s obvious talent will somehow buy him greater consideration for his willful, violent criminal act, than will be given Teresa Chapin for her part in a tragic accident.

            Whatever the legal ramifications for his ‘alleged’ actions, I truly hope he fixes that which is broken within himself before it consumes him and defines his life. Hopefully he will learn that talent without character is nothing, although it sometimes seems that many in this country don’t seem to understand that.

            Quite often, in today’s society, the desire to win – at anything – trumps everything else. Athletics in particular these days appear to be less about character building than they are about winning at any, and all costs, and if we have to overlook bad – even criminal – behavior on the part of the very people our children look up to and desire to emulate, then so be it. In light of these all-too-permissive attitudes, it is more than likely that Bernstine will land on his feet and continue to play ball somewhere and, ultimately and unfortunately – if history has its way – the only lesson to be learned will be that if you have talent, anything goes.

            I pray I am wrong and I would like this prayer to be answered.

            The young man is in need of our prayers, though, regardless of the outcome of all this, as is the young woman who suffered his anger. Bernstine has a gift and when he realizes that his gift came from God, maybe he will pray, himself, for an opportunity to use it for God.

            As for the young woman, I pray that she has suffered no permanent physical damage and that any emotional damage goes away quickly. I also pray that she puts this – and Bernstine – behind her and finds a life of laughter and joy to replace the violence and pain she experienced.

            May each of us pause for a moment to pray for all of the people who have been written about here today: the three individuals who made these seemingly harmless, inconsequential decisions and the many, many more who, like the three, were changed in some way forever when those decisions grew into something very, very different from what was intended at the outset.

            May we also pause for a moment and look inwardly and consider the things that are happening around us as a result of decisions we have made. May we think carefully and ask God for His guidance in everything we do, and how we do it, for some things – once done – can never be undone.

            None of you wants to be the main character in any of the stories I have just told, and you surely don’t want to end up in a place like the ones in which these words were written as a result of a decision made.

            I thank you, as always, for putting up with me. May God Bless each one of you

Inmates – In Their Own Words – A posting from Steve

      My name is Steve and I’m sixty eight years old. I never dreamed I would be spending my “golden years” behind the chain link and razor wire fences of a federal penitentiary.

      I had the great fortune of being successful in two separate careers; first in radio where I was credited as the inventor of the soft rock format in the 1970s. Later, I turned my efforts to television and feature films where I worked for the better part of twenty years as a writer and producer. I officially retired in the late 90s and in 2007, I moved with my wife and son to Little Rock, Arkansas. My wife had a daughter there who was spitting out babies like popcorn and we wanted to be a part of those grandbabies’ lives.

      Life was good there. We adjusted from the hectic pace of Los Angeles to small town southern living. I had intended to spend my retirement years devoting my time to my writing. But I fell into a malaise that seemed to keep me from those creative endeavors. Instead, I gave over more and more of my time to Internet chat rooms and the endless explorat10n of the world of online porn. I had done something similar some ten years previously but had managed to break the cycle by joining Sex Addicts Anonymous. Unfortunately, I did not have the good sense to remain active in the program and over the years, I drifted back into this self-destructive behavior.

      In the chat rooms, I channeled my aesthetic energies in to the creation of dark and frightening characters. I made up scenarios in which I portrayed murderers, rapists, wife-abusers and pedophiles. It seemed as though I was interested in depicting any behavior that society considered taboo. I reasoned that since this was all made-up and worlds away from who I truly am, there was no reason to place any limits on whatever behavior I could imagine and, in those chat rooms, claim to have engaged in them.

            As these less-than-healthy activities progressed, I was sent some child pornography. This should have had the effect of being doused with ice water. It should have functioned as a wake-up call. But  in the state of mind I was in, it only served to spur me forward. After all, what could be more taboo than child pornography? I had had a brief brush with it a couple of years earlier but I scared myself away from it. This time, however, such common sense did not prevail and I soon found myself searching for illegal images and trading them with others. The content of the pictures themselves was not what attracted me to this behavior. It was the raw excitement of the hunt. Indeed, I never kept the pictures I collected. Every few days, I would purge the flash drive of all its contents and I would invariably feel all the better for having done so. But a few days later, the cycle would begin again. At this point, I had lost my moral bearings. To my way of thinking, the children in those photos weren’t real. They were merely pixels on a screen. It was all still just in my head and I wasn’t hurting anyone. I failed to see that trading in those awful images was not an act of the imagination. It was real world behavior.

      On January 19, 2009, I traded photos online with someone who called himself “Mike.” In truth, he was an undercover sheriff’s deputy in Missouri and the wheels of my destruction were set in motion.

      Just before 6:00 a.m. on April 15, 2009, my wife and I were awakened by the insistent ringing of our doorbell. I stumbled downstairs to find our front window bathing the living room in flashing red and blue lights. I opened the door and ten uniformed police officers stormed in, their guns drawn. My mind was clouded by both sleep and denial and my first reaction was that this was one of those misbegotten drug busts where the police had the wrong address. It would all be cleared up in a few minutes and we could go back to bed. But when one of the officers announced that they were from the Little Rock Police Department’s Internet Child-Abuse Task Force, reality hit me like a sledge hammer. I could barely breathe as I was presented with a warrant to search our house. My seventeen year old son was awakened and he and my wife were placed in separate rooms and questioned. Of course, they were totally blindsided, unaware of any of my activities. In an act that I still feel was morally and legally wrong, they showed the pictures to my minor son, askin? if he knew anyone in them. Why they felt the need for this step, I 11 never understand since they had already determined that all of the pictures in question already existed in the FBI database. Needless to say, my son was traumatized.

      For five hours, we sat in those rooms while they searched every inch of our home. They then carried out all of our computers, cameras and iPhones. I was read my rights, handcuffed and frog-marched out of my home. I never saw the inside of it again.

      I was arraigned later that day with my lawyer son-in-law representing me. It was determined that I would be placed under house arrest but I would have to be housed outside the home because of the presence of a minor, my son who would turn eighteen in one more month. I spent two nights in county jail while an apartment in my son-in-law’s offices was readied. It was the most frightening two days and nights of my life.

      Once I was in my temporary home, fitted with an ankle bracelet, I began to shake off the horror of the past forty eight hours. I first located a twelve-step group; Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and secured permission to leave the apartment for meetings four times per week. I then found a therapist and began meeting with him twice a week, desperately searching for what led me to such insanely destructive behavior. It was at this point that the therapist, a sensitive and caring man, succeeded in getting me to view the children in those photographs as flesh and blood human beings. I was utterly shattered as I came to realize that these girls and boys were all too real and had been abused, violated and exploited, sometimes by the very people who were supposed to love and protect them. Worse yet was the realization that I had participated in their exploitation by continuing the cycle of their photos being exposed to new eyes. I still think of those children often. Some of them probably aren’t even children anymore. But they will bear the emotional scars of their abuse and exploitation for the rest of their lives.

      I still shake my head in wonder that I, a person who has always loved, nurtured and protected the children in my life, could have sunk so low. I hold out hope that someday I might be forgiven for what I have done. But I must first find a way to forgive myself and I’m still not there yet.

      After my nine months of house arrest, I pled guilty to a single count of distribution of child pornography and was sentenced to seven and a half years in a federal prison. Following my sentencing, my case was publicized nationwide because of the high profile jobs that I had held in Hollywood. Worse yet, the local paper in Little Rock quoted liberally from chats that my computer had saved unbeknownst to me and that had been recovered by the FBI. The paper never bothered to clarify that the content of those chats was complete fiction nor did they report that the prosecution had stipulated in court that there had never been any improper actions with a child by me. Those who read the front page of their morning paper were left with the impression that there had been a monster living in their midst.

      So now I spend my days and nights living in a bizarre world dominated by career criminals. These are people who, for some sad reason, never developed emotionally beyond the level of small children. If they see something they want, they take it. If something upsets them, their first instinct is to hit someone. As I watch them jostle each other and engage in physical horseplay, it’s like watching little boys in the playground.  

      There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel like a stranger in a strange land. It is only at night when I close my eyes and drift off to sleep that my soul can soar over the chain link and razor wire as my dreams carry me back into the free world where my life can feel normal once again. And then I awaken the next morning, taking just a split second to realize anew where I am and then go through the motions of living another day.

Crimes and Their Punishments: 21st Century Slave Traders: “Removing the Chains of Fear”

“Not only do I pray for it on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union, by consolidating it in a common bond of principle.”      Attributed to George Washington

“O Lord, I am Your servant, yes, I am Your servant, born into Your household; You have freed me from my chains.”     Psalm 116:16 NLT

            Although George Washington may have been able to “clearly foresee” the inevitable rooting out of slavery in this nation, we all know that no steps were taken to eliminate it until almost one hundred years later.

            Even then, the first step was taken with such trepidation that it amounted to no real step at all and was, in fact, more an act of political maneuvering than an act of moral righteousness.

            Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” which was issued on September 22, 1862 to take effect in January 1, 1863 , actually only went so far as to free those slaves who were located in states that had seceded from the union.

            In fact, in August of that year – prior to deciding to issue that proclamation – Lincoln stated his policy in regards to slavery thusly: “If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could do it by freeing all of the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would do that.”

            Ultimately, with the issuance of the “Emancipation Proclamation”, it was shown that his fear of losing the goodwill of the slave owners in the border states of Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Kentucky took precedence over securing freedom for all of those enslaved at that time.

            It wasn’t until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and then ratified by the states that all slavery was abolished.

            Of course, climbing out of the holds of the slave ships and breaking the chains of slavery would prove to be more complicated than just passing legislation.

            The flames of hatred, prejudice, and ignorance – all fanned by the winds of fear – have kept the issue of race burning since the ratification of the 13th Amendment, through the tumultuous – and often deadly – civil rights movements of the 1960’s, all the way to this very day, proving that, while it may be possible to control some human action through legislation, it is impossible to legislate the human heart – or the human mind – and as long as the winds of fear blow in this country, there will always be hatred, prejudice, and ignorance.

            Consider an item I ran across in “USA Today” several weeks ago. It seems that so much “progress” has been made in Louisiana’s Caldwell Parish that the school districts there no longer require federal supervision. A federal judge has ruled that the schools are “officially desegregated.”

            The same court has decided, however, that a closer look is needed at Richmond Parish schools.

            And, in a case dating back to the 1960’s, and also reported in USA Today, Alabama’s Pickens County public schools and the justice department have arrived at a settlement in their desegregation case.

            The fact that the disease of segregation still infects this country is disturbing in itself. The fact that the news that it still festers is deserving of no more space in the paper than might be used to announce a garage sale, is even more so.

           Of course, desegregation is not the hot topic that it was when many people were dying and Mississippi was, in fact, burning. Those very real flames were being fanned by the winds of fear of what desegregation represented.

            Those same winds of fear often prevent the leaders of this country from doing the right thing. More importantly, when those winds are manipulated and directed towards the public, those in policy-making positions are often empowered to do the wrong thing.

            While the winds that flow out of Africa develop into hurricanes as they cross the Atlantic Ocean, the winds of fear are man-made and often driven by the forces of politics and profit rather than the forces of nature.

            In the 1950’s federal mandatory prison sentences were used to combat narcotics (much as they would be again 30 years later), but common sense prevailed and all mandatory minimums were repealed in the 1970’s. Then-Congressman George H. W. Bush, doing the right thing, voted for the bill eliminating them stating: “contrary to what one might imagine, this bill will result in better justice and more appropriate sentences. …Federal judges are almost unanimously opposed to mandatory minimums because they remove a great deal of the court’s discretion… …as a result, we will probably have more equitable action by the courts, with actually more convictions where they are called for, and fewer disproportionate sentences.”

            Eighteen years later, Bush would reverse that position while running against George Dukakis for president. Continuing a “tough-on-crime” mantra begun by Reagan (with encouragement from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which we will look at momentarily), Bush would embrace newer, longer, more wide-reaching mandatory minimums than those he voted to repeal.

            Reagan manipulated the winds that fanned the flames until they were hot enough to forge the public’s fear of crime into chains that wrapped around this country and have squeezed more and more freedom from the American people since that time while making people believe that those chains were, in fact, a protective blanket.

            As those chains of fear have squeezed more freedom from the American people, they also have squeezed out profits for companies and individuals who have formed an unholy alliance that has grown in its size, scope, and power since its inception in the early 1970’s.

            That unholy alliance is, of course, the “American Legislative Exchange Council” – ‘ALEC’ – and the influence and power it wields today is enormous and the profits reaped by the incestuous relationships that abound within – and around – it are staggering.

            The ‘ blacksmiths’ who forged those chains of fear that are strangling this country first opened shop almost 40 years ago at a small meeting in Chicago in September of 1973. Those “blacksmiths” included then Illinois State Representative Harry Hyde, conservative activist Paul Weyrich, and Lou Barnett a veteran of Ronald Reagan’s 1968 presidential campaign.

            The American Legislative Exchange Council was born and – waving a banner for “limited government, free markets, and individual liberty” – has grown to include some 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states. (I’m sorry, isn’t that what the United States Congress is for?).  Each individual member pays an annual membership fee of $50.00 and gets to meet with other members at 3 conferences per year held at various locations throughout the country. (Who wants to bet that it is expensed as ‘state business’?)

            In addition to meeting with other legislators, some 300 corporate foundations and private sector members pay from $3,000 to $10,000 each to attend – and participate in – these conferences and, as members, assist in the primary function of ALEC which is to write model legislation to be brought back to each of the 50 states.

            ‘ALEC’ has escaped public scrutiny, for some reason, for all of these years until recently. Lately, its practices – and, in some cases, its legitimate need to exist at all – have come into question.  Some of the more recent questions and public criticisms have come from sources such as National Public Radio, Bloomberg News, John Nichols of “The Nation”, William Cronon from the University of Wisconsin, and the Center for Media and Democracy.

            Examples of these concerns and criticisms include: the danger of using ‘ALEC’ to avoid state laws to disclose meetings with, and gifts from, public and private corporations; neither the model legislation that ‘ALEC’ pushes nor the list of elected officials who are members is made publicly available; their nonprofit status has been challenged on the grounds that ‘ALEC’ spends most of its resources lobbying, in violation of the rules governing nonprofit organizations; and the whole organization seems to strive towards a goal that is the advancement of an agenda that seems to be dictated at almost every turn by multi-national corporations.

            These are just some of the ever increasing criticisms and concerns that are coming to the fore, and – quite frankly – I am surprised that a group which is violating at least the spirit of some laws – if not the letter – has operated so openly, for so long, and grown so large and powerful without these – and other – concerns being raised long ago.

            As I showed earlier, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was formed in 1983 and quickly became an active participant in ALEC’s policy making and legislation modeling. CCA has grown – and profited hugely – as a direct result of legislation passed that was drawn up initially behind ALEC’s closed doors before being introduced – and in many cases passed – in the individual members’ states.

            Thanks to The Center for Media and Democracy, there is a website you should all visit to truly appreciate the scope of ALEC’s intrusion into public affairs that have been conducted in private, with no public oversight, and no public participation, and no public notification.

            The site is www.alecexposed.org – from that website, one member of my massive research staff – God Bless You, Diane – obtained and forwarded to me examples of the ‘model legislation’ ALEC’s ‘ task forces’ and members drew up to be brought back and introduced in each of the 50 states.

            Of the more than 2 dozen examples that I requested (out of the more than 800 listed), many of them directly benefit private companies such as CCA and GEO (which claims to be no longer connected to ALEC).  Both companies were avid participants when much of the legislation that directly benefits them was written, and CCA still is a major participant and financial contributor. CCA also, at one point co-chaired the Criminal Justice Task Force which created the pieces of legislation I am going to discuss.

            Among the examples of legislation I requested for review are the following, with a brief description of how CCA, GEO, and similar Slave Traders of the 21st Century profit from that legislation:

  • GPS TRACKING OF OFFENDERS ACT – This Act enables state and local authorities to utilize GPS electronic monitoring as a means of tracking offenders and pre-trial defendants within a community. Adopted by the Criminal Justice Task Force at the annual meeting, August 2007 and approved by ALEC Board of Directors, September 2007.  Remember GEO’s purchase of Behavioral Interventions, Inc.? That purchase was $415 million dollars, so this is big business, and monitoring is what they do.
  • MINIMUM MANDATORY SENTENCING ACT – This Act establishes mandatory sentencing for drug offenses on the state level (many of which are being repealed, have been recently repealed, or are under consideration for being repealed).
    Private prison companies have benefited by creating massive overcrowding in the nation’s prison system, whereupon the private prison industry has stepped in to offer “solutions”, resulting in major increases in revenue and profits to CCA, GEO, and similar companies.
  • HOUSING OUT-OF-STATE PRISONERS IN A PRIVATE PRISON ACT – This Act would enable a private prison contractor to provide housing, care, and control of inmates of any state.  Obviously, this law would benefit the operators of private prisons such as CCA and GEO.

Other pieces of “model” legislation written by ALEC’s “task force” of legislators and the very private prison companies that they will financially benefit are:

  • Temporary Juvenile Detention Act
  • Private Correctional Facilities Act
  • Prison Industries Act
  • Electronic Home Detention Act
  • Resolution to enforce our immigration laws (which spawned the model legislation that has passed in Arizona, Utah, Alabama and Georgia).

All of these, and thousands of additional pieces of legislation were written by the very people whose pockets will be lined by their enactment. From ALEC’s website is the following statement: “Each year, close to 1,000 bills based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20 percent become law.”

            Pardon me for my ignorance, but ALEC’s own Mission Statement calls for limited government. 1,000 pieces of legislation – 3 per day – is not limited at all, but any fisherman will tell you that the more hooks you have in the water, the better your chances of catching fish.

            It’s not just in the criminal arena that ALEC wraps its chains around this country either. There are currently eight “task forces” made up of legislators and private industry:

  • Civil Justice
  • Commerce, Insurance & Economic Development
  • Education
  • Energy, Environment and Agriculture
  • Health and Human Services
  • International Relations
  • Public Safety & Elections
  • Task & Fiscal Policy
  • Telecommunications & Information Technology.

This sounds like a list of cabinet offices in the U.S. Government, but is just a very private “back room” full of good old boys and cigar smoke – and it’s the American public’s eyes that are being blinded by the smoke.

But at least we are wrapped in our protective blanket, right?

            The simple fact is this: ALEC has flooded the states with legislation designed to benefit select businesses, or areas of business, while burdening the American people with the costs for implementation of these pieces of legislation, and it is all done in a way that is absolutely opposite of the principles on which this country was founded and the way it is supposed to function.

            The tentacles of ALEC reach far and have grown in number and strength through the years.

            Among ALEC ‘alumni’ are 14 past, or sitting, governors and 85 members of Congress. It would be a stretch of any imagination to think that these ‘graduates’ of ALEC are without connections to, or influence over, what transpires behind ALEC’s closed doors even now that they have “moved on” and are no longer official members. (Remember, this is an organization for state legislators.)

            It would be an even bigger stretch to think that the relationships those ‘alumni’ have struck with ALEC’s corporate members ended upon their “graduation”. Much of the ‘cross-pollination’ I have referred to repeatedly throughout this series can be directly traced back to relationships formed through ALEC, and I never even put a tiny scratch in the surface of the numbers of relationships that exist today.

            Bob Kasten and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, John Engler of Michigan, Terry Branstad of Iowa and John Kasich of Ohio were involved with ALEC during its formative years. All have “graduated” gone onto become Republican Governors or Members of Congress.

            John Kasich is now Governor of Ohio. If you recall, in my first of this series, I pointed out that he appointed Gary Mohr as the head of Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

            To further refresh your memory, Mohr is a former Consultant and Managing Director for CCA, and you may further remember that, conversely, CCA hired Kasish’s former congressional chief of staff, Donald Thibault, as a lobbyist last January.

            To complete this little refresher course, Mohr had proposed selling 5 of Ohio’s prisons to private prison companies through a bidding process and the proposal moves forward with CCA as a participant. Mohr put out a memorandum that he would not be involved in the process. (wink, wink)

            Now for the update: The Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Northeastern Ohio has become the first state prison in the nation to be sold to a private company. Of the 5 put up for sale, only this one will be sold, according to the state. The winning bid was $72.7 million dollars which is more than the $50 million needed from privatization efforts to balance the state’s prison budget.

            CCA won the bid, but that should come as no surprise because of the relationships between Kasich, Mohr, and CCA. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the presumption that that relationship had nothing to do with CCA being successful in its bid, nor should anyone else of reasonable intelligence. They take over December 31st pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the move.

            While the trading of human flesh for profit is the primary focus of this series, ALEC itself cannot be discussed properly without pointing out that other industries, businesses, and individuals use their ALEC access to develop legislation favorable to their particular field.

            I came across this excerpt from a “Bloomberg News” article reporting on ALEC:

“Koch Industries, Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) are among companies that would benefit from almost identical energy legislation introduced in state capitols from Oregon to New Mexico to New Hampshire and that’s by design.

The energy companies helped write the legislation at a meeting organized by a group they finance: ‘The American Legislative Exchange Council’, a Washington-based policy institute known as ALEC.

The corporations, both ALEC members, took a seat at the legislative drafting table beside elected officials and policy analysts by paying between $3,000 and $10,000 yearly, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News.”

            According to ALECexposed.org, in addition to CCA, GEO, KOCH Industries and Exxon Mobil, the list of past and present corporate members of ALEC includes: AT&T, Verizon, UPS, Bayer Corp., Glaxo Smith Kline, Coca Cola, Kraft Foods, Pfizer, State Farm Insurance, Wal-mart, and the American Bail Coalition.

            Comparing this list with the list of ALEC task forces, it is easy to see where each would fit – some in multiple categories – and have a vested interest in having a hand in developing legislation that would be favorable to their industry, in general, or their company, in particular.

            None of this would be possible were it not for the arrogant manner in which the American people have been manipulated and wrapped up in those chains of fear masquerading as a protective blanket.

            And nowhere is the arrogance of our elected officials and the alienation of the American people more obvious than in the action of ALEC and the comments of its current Chairman, Louisiana Representative Noble Ellington.

            In an interview with Terry Gross on a radio show produced by National Public Radio (NPR), Ellington got a little testy when Ms. Gross asked him why corporations got a seat at the table with ALEC but unions, teachers, and the general public don’t.

            His response: “I work for the taxpaying public, so don’t assume that they’re not (at the table) because they are. And we represent the public and we are the ones who decide. So the taxpaying public is there at the table because I am there.”

            The taxpaying public did not elect Mr. Ellington or any other member of any legislative body – federal or state – in this country to meet in private with multi-national corporations and draft legislation that directly benefits those same companies, their shareholders, their executives, or their friends.

            But they draft it anyway.

            The taxpaying public did not elect Mr. Ellington or any other member of any legislative body – federal or state – in this country to meet in private with those same companies and build personal relationships to further their own long-term interests and those of their close associates by ‘cross-pollinating’ and creating a revolving door through which passes the members of an exclusive club or collaborative cronies more concerned with feathering their own nests than furthering the causes of those who elected them in the first place.

            But they do it anyway.

            The taxpaying public also did not elect Mr. Ellington or any other member of any legislative body – federal or state – in this country to vote in their own self-interest in matters concerning term limits, line item vetoes, compensation packages, pensions, campaign reform, lobbying matters, ethics, super pacs, and other areas, as opposed to what is best for the taxpaying public they all took an oath to serve.

            But they vote against the best interests of the taxpaying public anyway. Over and over and over.

            “Those who do not move do not notice their chains.”

                                                Rosa Luxemburg

            The time has come for the American people to move in order that they might finally realize that their elected officials have wrapped them in chains and those chains are getting tighter and tighter, slowly squeezing the life – and the liberty – out of every American, not just those on the literal “wrong side of the fence.”

            The flames of fear used to forge those chains were fueled by individuals with a vision: a vision of America so consumed with a fear of crime – and criminals – that her citizens would be willing to pay any price to be protected.

            And the price that has been – and continues to be – paid is one of staggering proportions: The cost to the millions of members of the families of non-violent offenders incarcerated needlessly in this country; the cost to society to feed, clothe, house, and care for the world’s largest population of non-violent offenders; the cost to society when those same people are returned to society after 5, 10, 20 or more years languishing behind bars and are ostracized from the very opportunities they will require to become productive members of society; the cost to all Americans through the ever-increasing loss of personal freedoms; and – perhaps the highest cost of all – the loss of the ability of a nation of free people to have faith that the government that was established by, of, and for the people actually represents the majority’s true, best interests and not just those of the privileged groups, companies, and individuals who are rich enough, connected enough, contribute enough, or can promise a profitable enough future to those who were elected in good faith, with the hope of positive change, but are, like Eddie Murphy in the movie, “The Distinguished Gentleman”, quickly seduced by the privilege, power, prestige, and profit available to those who sell out to the highest bidder while pointing fingers, placing blame, and doing what they do because “I represent the people and I know what is best for them.”

            Are there violent people roaming the streets of our cities using guns, knives and other weapons to commit crimes?

            Is the business of illegal drugs a problem in this country?

            Is illegal immigration a problem in this country?

            Is child pornography finding its way into far too many homes in America?

            Are Ponzi schemes and other financial crimes a problem?

            Is Medicare and Medicaid fraud a problem?

            Are there individuals using computers to prey on our children?

            The answer to each and every one of these questions, of course, is an unequivocal and resounding “YES!”

            But now let me ask this: Is the passing of laws that financially benefit the very same companies, elected officials, and select individuals who participate in private meetings to craft these laws while creating the illusion that they are addressing these problems with your best interests in mind the wisest, safest, most cost effective and productive course of action with which to address these, and other, national issues?

            That answer, my friends, is an equally unequivocal and resounding “NO!”

            The selling of freedom that is crippling our criminal justice system is crippling other areas of American life as well.

            As ALEC develops legislation that affects the businesses of insurance, energy, finance, education, housing, and virtually every other facet of the taxpaying public’s daily existence, the rich and the privileged grow richer and more privileged.

            It is surely a problem of mammoth proportions, this unholy and unethical alliance of business and elected officials, but it is not a problem unique to this country.

            In Egypt, recently, a senior insider in the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak was convicted of corruption. Ahmed Ezz had apparently become a symbol of the intertwining of business and politics that many Egyptians despise as corrupt.

            If the American Legislative Exchange Council does not epitomize the intertwining of business and politics I simply cannot fathom what would.

            ALEC – and other similar, yes smaller groups (and yes, others do exist) – should not be tolerated by the taxpaying American public. ALEC, and any like it, should be illegal and any input that business wants to inject into proposed law, policies, and politics in general should be done in open hearings in state houses and congressional chambers in full view of the public and not at weekend retreats paid for by the public where the only people not in attendance are the very people whose lives will be affected by what is discussed.

            America should demand that her public servants remember that they are just that, and they should spend much more of their time meeting with, and acting on behalf of, the very people who elected them to serve in the first place.

            For starters, ALEC’s success at profiteering in the area of prison privatization needs to be reversed.

            The temptations associated with privatization are great and therefore I state again that the United States of America should follow the example of Israel and declare that private prisons are unconstitutional.

            Given the fact that the Supreme Court has given private individuals and corporations the power to openly indemnify elected officials to them, their pet projects, or core businesses by allowing them to contribute unlimited amounts to “super pacs” tells me that is not likely to happen.

            So I would propose the following: Under no circumstances should any individual who works in a prison or who writes, enforces, prosecutes, or adjudicates our nations laws profit from the incarceration of this nation’s citizens by owning all, or part of any company, or the stock belonging to any company that conducts business, for profit, with penal institution, detention center, or any other type of institution whose primary function is the housing, care, and control of any human being under the jurisdiction of any federal, state or local authority.

            Furthermore, it should be against the law for any union or any other group representing workers in those same institutions to lobby for longer sentences, mandatory minimums, or engage in any efforts to obtain job security by encouraging public officials to incarcerate more people for longer periods of time or for more reasons.

            It should also be illegal for any pension fund managed on behalf of any group that writes, enforces, prosecutes, or adjudicates this nations laws, or monitors those incarcerated to own stock in any company that profits from any part of the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration process.

            It is true that the citizens of this country should be afraid, but they should be afraid of ALEC and the arrogance and impunity with which our elected officials operate and cater to the whims of those wealthy enough to buy a few minutes of their time.

            In the case of Egypt, social media has been credited with being the impetus of change, so I suggest that Americans follow suit and use the resources at their fingertips and do the following:

            Demand from every governor, United States Congressman, state legislator, and current candidate for office a public answer to the following question:

“Are you now, have you ever been, or do you have future plans on being a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council?”

Then make sure that they know that if they answered ‘YES’, you will not vote for them.

            At the same time, Americans need to understand the unconscionable blow to the American electoral process with its finding in favor of “Super Pacs”. The taking of this incomprehensible step put the welfare of this country even more firmly in the hands of big business and the well-to-do, so while you are saying ‘no’ to ALEC, let the same people know that you will not vote for any candidate who has any relationship with a “Super Pac”, and when they say that they have no control over who spends money on their behalf, let them know with a loud “NO!” that you are not buying it anymore.

            The American people have the power. They just need to stop listening to the same rhetoric and “empty calorie” campaign speeches that influential dollars have paid someone to write and who specializes in bamboozling the American public.

            Due to the unbridled arrogance and misplaced loyalties of many of our elected officials, we are, right now, far removed from the Lord’s promise when He said:

            “You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.”

                                                                                             Isaiah 54:14 NLT

However, the Lord also stated that:

“Human pride will be brought down and human arrogance will be humbled.”

                                                                                             Isaiah 2:11a NLT

            However, before the arrogant can be humbled, and before anyone, anywhere in this country can feel secure under a government that is just and fair, we must heed the words of God when He says:

            “Remove the chains of slavery from your neck.”

                                                                                             Isaiah 52:2b NLT

            Americans must break the chains that are wrapped around their necks and have made them slaves to fear and insist on a new direction – a new way of conducting the business of the people of this, the greatest nation on earth – a new direction in dealing with the way laws are made and in dealing with those who break them.

            Those who are elected to conduct the business of the people should know that Americans are looking for individuals to serve the people and we must tell them that, in a servant we expect someone who is:






No-nonsense and


            Until next time, thank you for putting up with me, and may God bless each and every one of you.

“More, Sir . . . can I have more?”

‘Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish’


‘Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.’

                Proverbs 22:9 NLT

      When I wrote the article titled “You don’t speak Chinese to an Irishman” back in May,  I said that if I received just one of the study Bibles requested , “I have helped to make a difference. Any more than that would be extremely appreciated.”

     Well,  thanks to family, friends, readers and a Bible study group in Virginia, I am happy to tell you that – so far – WE have made an important difference in the lives of over 30 men,  and I thank those of you who have helped me create this problem I now face – I need more!!

     I am approached several time a week by individuals who have seen this particular study Bible – most refer to it as “that big, green bible” – and the questions are always the same:  “are you getting any more?” and “ can I get on the list?”

     I was afraid to ask for the help of all who read “The Chronicles” the first time for fear that I would not get a response. I know now that I have nothing to fear, so I will ask again.  It is a gift of life, almost, to some of these men.

     When I walk through The Unit and see men carrying them, or reading them, I thank the Lord for pointing me to you – the people who can and have made a difference in the lives of many men who need to know, live and learn what is contained in the pages of this beautiful book.

     Those of us who study it are taken to a whole new level of appreciation and understanding of the Word of God and it truly does make a difference.

     When you send one of these bibles to be given to one of these men, you are helping to change a life – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot – but in any case, it is no small thing you are doing.

     I appreciate those who follow “The Chronicles” and I give thanks for the words of support I receive, and for your help in this little project of mine.

     To make things easier,  the mailing/shipping address is below. 

Anthony E Casson

91153-004    Allen-1

Federal Correctional Institution,   Box 5000

Oakdale, LA 71463


God Bless you All,  Tony

‘A Note of Thanks’

     I would like to thank those who responded with gifts of NLT Study Bibles. To all of you: many, many thanks, they were all well received. To those who supplied their names:

Alan- My friend, God Bless You

Larry- Thank you, Brother

Sabrina- It’s been ages, and your edition was especially welcome by the man I gave it to. Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing.

    Again, thanks to all of you, I could still use more. Now that some people have them, others come up to me and ask if they can get one. It’s a beautiful thing. God bless you all for your generosity and your help.

    Moving along, I apologize for such a gap, but I have been busy. Shortly, you will all see the beginning of a project I have wanted to do, and thanks to a very special person, I have finally started on it. The next entry will be entitled “Crimes and their Punishments”.

     It is the first of a multi-part series on prison privatization and its effect on this docentry. It is a very complex issue that as I am only able to scratch the surface of but thanks to the hard work of my friend Dian, who I have never met, I was provided with enough research material to make a start at it.

Thank you all, and God Bless you,


Father’s Day Felons II

“A child is not likely to find a Father in God unless he finds something of God in his Father.” –Austin L. Sorenson

“My child, listen to what I say and treasure my commands. Turn your fears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding” – Proverbs 2:1-2 NLT

    On July 15, 2010, my son posted something I had written called, “Father’s Day Felons”. That article was written, and posted, after Father’s Day and was a response to the day itself—my own thoughts and feelings, as well as my impressions of what those around me were thinking and feeling.

    In that article I wrote, “ A Day that used to be filled with a tremendous amount of pride and happiness suddenly has become a day I will dread, each time it arrives, for as long as I am here.”

     Well Father’s Day #2 is right around the corner and while I am pretty certain that most of the thoughts and emotions that I wrote about last year will still be at the forefront of my heart and mind this year when the day actually arrives, I must revise part of the statement I quoted.

     I do not dread this Father’s Day. No, I do not dread it at all—in fact , I am EXCITED to see this Father’s Day approaching and I look FORWARD to Father’s Day 2012 because it will be the next to the last one I will spend in prison. My projected release date is about one month before Father’s Day 2014.

     Last year I wrote about my pervading sense of personal failure that I felt in relation to my own two children. I still recognize that I failed them both miserably—and in many ways—but I still pray for their forgiveness, understanding, and love every day.

     Instead of dreading the day, though, I will use it as a reminder of how a Father IS supposed to act and what a father is supposed to BE.

     Instead of dreading the day, I look forward to it and will use it as a marker of time until the day when I can once again hold them and kiss them and tell them I love them with nothing between us but that slight bit of air capable of finding space between us.

     On Father’s day in June of 2014, my children will be proud of me. That is my goal. That is my objective. If I cannot achieve that goal in the time I will have spent in prison, then I will have wasted that time and I refuse to do that for I have already wasted enough time in my life.

     I have shorthanded enough people who wanted nothing from me but my time and my love and I’ll not deprive them of either of those things again. The Lord has gotten me from Father’s Day I to Father’s Day II and has enabled me to do it with ever-increasing faith, confidence, wisdom, and understanding. He has helped me learn that I am important to a number of people in this world and that it is incumbent upon me to be someone who can be relied upon and looked up to.

     For anyone reading his who has a Father in a similar situation as me, being angry and hurt is normal and acceptable but it is also necessary to move beyond that and begin looking away from the past—which got us here—and to begin looking to the future. Which will move us forward.

     I would like to take this opportunity to wish a “Happy Father’s Day” to two of the best fathers I know—my son’s stepfather, Russ and my sister’s husband Larry. I thank you both, individually for different reasons, but together for what you have in common—you are both top notch fathers!

     And for all of the Father’s who will see this Father’s day pass from behind walls, fences, or wire—this will make it one less we all face in here.

     That is something, anyway.