WOODBOURNE – As the weather breaks, the sun starts to shine, flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and the birds are chirping. The arrival of Mother’s Day is one way to mark this seasonal change. While most people are enjoying the warm weather, I want to share a special Mother’s Day message.
I would like to acknowledge all of the Mothers who are affected by mass incarceration. Every weekend, all of New York’s (over fifty) prison visiting rooms are filled with mostly women. These dedicated Mothers and Wives make sacrifices to ensure the welfare of their loved ones. Many of them wake up early, rush to feed and dress the kids, and then meet the prison bus. Miraculously, this all takes place before sunrise. Because most prisons are in rural locations far from the city, the ride may take hours. Many of these visitors do not return home until sunset. Tired and emotionally drained, they go to bed weary because once more they had to leave a piece of their heart behind.
All alone, they work as the breadwinners and tend to the households. In the community, they carry the shame brought upon them because of the past criminal actions of their loved one. Society and some of us inmates often overlook the important role these Mothers take on during our incarceration and rehabilitation. Their unwavering support makes our chances at re-entry that much greater.
I urge every inmate to go beyond sending the regular yearly greeting card. Instead, take time to write a special message of thanks from the heart to every Mother in your life. Those words of encouragement and thanks go a long way. In fact, delivered at the right time, those words may be just enough to keep someone from giving up when the stresses of life become too overwhelming. We could never thank you enough.
In addition to the Mothers who have loved ones in prison, we must also acknowledge and honor the Mothers who have unfortunately been victims of crime themselves. As a society, we need to acknowledge your pain and suffering and continuously offer support as you process your loss and transition through the resulting changes in your life. I have grown to realize that this is not an easy process.
In addition, it is important for us as inmates to rehabilitate ourselves, gain insight into our crimes and offer a genuine apology to those we have harmed. At the very least, we owe them that small measure of closure. By writing an honest apology letter, I was able to acknowledge and take responsibility for my wrongs and atone. While this helped in the healing and restoration process, I know there is more I must do. As offenders, we owe it to both groups of Mothers mentioned above to mature into men of character, therefore allowing us to, change, improve, and live the rest of our lives in a manner that can finally make our loved ones proud. This is my Mother’s Day gift to you.
Inmates wishing to write victim apology letters can send them to the Apology letter bank: J. Koupash, Director; Office of Victim Assistance; Department of Correctional Services; 1220 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY, 12226.
Woodbourne Correctional Facility