January 7, 2010
Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
Letter #117: Conscientious Objector
Greetings! I’m writing this letter a few days earlier than usual for my weekly updates, because I really need you to pray about something for me.
As you know, I’ve been anticipating a committee hearing on my eligibility to be transferred to Arizona (most likely for five years or more). It’s not what I want to do, and yet I know that God is in control of the situation, so I felt at peace with not doing things to try to avoid going. Some of these (well-meaning) suggestions on how to avoid going included:
- Having my parents get a doctor to claim they can’t travel great distances
- Tying a sheet around my neck just before a cop walks by my cell
- Putting baby oil on the floor of my cell, getting in the natural, and spin until they come
- Threatening to do great bodily harm to an inmate in Arizona, if transferred, to be returned.
- Staging a serious rule violation here, such as possession of drug paraphernalia
- Filing a lawsuit via a writ of Habeas Corpus against everyone but God Himself
- Signing the consent form with the words “Signed Under Duress” underneath
All of these ideas would result in me being ineligible to leave—at least until after the trouble I’d create would be resolved—yet it would be me-driven, not God-driven. I knew that once they called me into that committee meeting, I’d agree to their request to send me to Arizona, I’d sign the forms, and I’d be respectful and humble. I believed God could work on my behalf if He wanted me to stay in Soledad. And, if He wanted me to go to Arizona, He could work through the situation as it appeared.
I’d stood in line for the library a few days ago, just to talk with a young man about God, then I decided after the hour wait, I might as well see what our library has to offer. I picked up a free Christian book to keep and checked out one book of interest, due to my love of business/sales/marketing: Getting Past No, by William Ury.
As I began reading it yesterday, I tried to think of an immediate application for the great principles taught about negotiations. God brought to mind this impending committee meeting, so I jotted down ideas on how to be kind as you work through differences. I was completely unprepared for a cop opening my door today, however, and telling me to report downstairs for “committee.” I grabbed the paper and jetted down, where I was ushered into a tiny office with three counselors I recognized.
They basically told me I’m approved to go to Arizona, and I just need to sign. I asked if I could please ask a question, which they granted. I choked back tears as I told them that I am grateful to be here, that I plan to never get a disciplinary write-up, that I’m working to “rehabilitate” (their buzz-word) myself through books I have, that I’m helping other men set goals, etc. Then I asked if I seem like the best candidate to be sending away from their prison.
They took my “Problem-Solving Question” in response to their “Stone Wall” and used a “Trick” to deflect my point, saying that all inmates will be “screened” for Arizona: It’s my turn!
Rather than correct the counselor, I went “To the Balcony” (took a step back to reflect/pray) and “Made It Easy to Say Yes” by helping point out some of his “unmet interests”—namely, that he wants me rehabilitated. I mentioned that I currently have over 20 people who are approved to visit me, with another 15 in the process (if you haven’t yet filled out a form, we’re emailing you one to mail in; even if it looks like you may never visit me, it’s probably more likely to happen HERE rather than AZ, right?). 🙂
He then listened as I let him know that I’d found out my visits would be all no-contact in Arizona, and said, “I’m putting you down for objecting to going, based on a desire to stay near family.”
Immediately, another counselor said, “You need to file a formal appeal, on Emergency Appeal Status, claiming what he just said, that you want to stay near your family.”
Wow. Praise God. I NEVER had to agree to anything! They decided for me! And, as I view my counselor as my authority, I will be filing a formal appeal, which I NEVER had planned to do before! God is good! Please pray for His will to be done!