Crime brought us to prison. If it was an addiction, should we set a goal of "never reoffending" or not? Should we aim at victory, instead of defeat? Obviously "yes" in both cases. Then we should make a self-fullfilling prophecy: "I will NOT reoffend," adding two caveats: "with the Lord's help, and my vigilance against any evil thoughts." We never need to "act out" our addiction again.
Coaches tell their teams, "We are Number One," and "We will win!" -before the game starts. Avis 'I tries harder", the Marines are "the few and the proud," the army invites you to "be all you can be", Martin Luther King, Jr., sang "We Shall Overcome!" They all "speak the future into existence." Could they be wrong? Might they lose? Every battle has a loser, but they have chosen to be the winners. And yes, they might lose.
They do not program themselves for failure, by announcing, "We'll study the problems, concentrate on the difficulties, discuss the obstacles, and hope not to lose, even though people think we are losers." Do the studies. Do the concentration. Have the discussions, and then expect to win: you can live without reoffending.
FIRST CAVEAT: Only God knows the future, and may laugh at man's plans to build bigger barns for his riches. Yet Christ told us that by His stripes we were healed. He tells us to hope for our real future, life after death. Our "hope" for the after-life isn't like "I hope to win a lottery, I' (futile optimism,.an expectation-of-failure); but like I hope this parachute opens," (a life-or-death expectation of success). This corruption of the strength of the word "hope" makes us shy away from it, and many Christians will use the synonym "know": "I know I am saved and going to heaven." Could I be wrong? Paul constantly said to keep striving, run the good race and endure to the end --not "once saved, always saved." Christ said, "No one can take you from me," and might have added, but didn't, "unless you choose to leave me."
How does a Christian "know" he is saved or cured of an addiction? By the peace in his heart. Anyone can make claims, so how will an outsider tell if he is lying or wrong? "By their fruits shall ye know them," is one concept, and "Only God can judge the hearts of men," is another. They can "know" you refuse to reoffend, or that you "hope" you won't. Either way, they may expect you to commit another crime. You can only predict your own future and work to make it happen.
SECOND CAVEAT: Addicts have often promised, "I'll never drink again!" And then failed. Substitute for "drink" your personal addiction: smoking, anger, violence, sexual offenses, gambling, drugs, exceeding speed limits, shoplifting. If we cannot change our bad behavior without incarceration, medication, or therapy, then we need those aids. But just as some addicts CAN stop smoking (and have no more desire for tobacco), or over-eaters CAN lose weight (and not regain it), we CAN change and live without reoffending. But --and it is a serious "but" -- alcoholics have found that one step in the wrong direction, one sip of one drink, and they WILL be lost again. We need to stop "stinking thinking", get help, learn how to avoid temptations, change our priorities, understand our weaknesses, and avoid the "slippery slopes".
Have you studied, changed, and overcome other addictions? If you have lost weight, stopped smoking, controlled anger and cursing, or refused to gamble any more, you have demonstrated you can win, and will try to win again. However, "The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance'" --forget that, and you'll be in trouble.
Doctors, family, parole boards, and the public quite rightly want to judge us and our future behavior. So we can either declare, "Gee, it'd be nice if I didn't reoffend, but I probably will," or "No, I won't reoffend, with (1) God's help and (2) personal vigilance." The only proof we can offer is the way we live.
Could I reoffend? Any man alive can fail at whatever he tries to do, but if he doesn't try, he's already failed. We must remember the two warnings when we promise to never reoffend. Just as singing "We Shall Overcome" isn't an instant answer, it is the right step, in the right direction. I will be vigilant, and with the Lord's help, will never reoffend.
© Copyright 2003 Alden Redfield, DOC 521138
Alden is out of prison. I will try to contact him.
Alde's other sites - Innocent Prisoners - A Letter to Missouri Taxpayers