Nothing's Black & White

What do we know about why crimes are committed?
Today my little brother, who has been in prison for 10 years, gets his freedom. 

Personally I think he paid too much for his crimes, but that's a policy conversation for another day. 

Because of my bias, I wanted to get another perspective - from a robbery victim's point of view. 

A childhood friend, coincidentally, was the victim of a crime (similar to my brother's offenses) when we were in high school nearly 20 years ago. 

I decided to interview my friend - a father & educator - via email, since I have never asked him about the details of the robbery. Somewhat surprisingly, it turned into a conversation about healing & race.

Names have been changed & edited for time. 

Tampa Do-Gooder: What it was like to be robbed?  

Friend: The surreal thing about being robbed was how calm I was during the robbery. I took a grim pride in that later. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself - I should set the scene, first. 

My brother, myself and a friend went to Wawa for snacks. Unfortunately, we finished shopping at different times and I came out to the car before they did. 

Little did I know that we were being watched the entire time. Maybe if we had all left the store at the same time and taken off together, none of this would have happened. 

Anyway, one of the robbers knocked on my window and asked something inaudible. I rolled down the window and he jammed something inside, pointed at my crotch. In horror, they stuck around while my brother and his friend eventually made their way back to the car. 

All in all, they probably didn't get more than $20 from the three of us.

After they had taken our stuff, they hung around for a while and I remember the guy with his arm in the car hesitated for a while, maybe wondering if he should actually pull the trigger or not. 


2012 (Prison) Reading List

One week from today, after 10 long years, my brother will get another chance at being a productive member of society.  
This is the third year I've blogged the list of books I've sent him, and kinda like the third child, I've forgotten to keep track of them this time around. 
(Bad joke, although my brother is the third of three children...) The books pictured are the ones I've managed to remember. 

Ex-cons face great odds, of course, not usually having been rehabilitated in prison. There's few resources on the outside to keep them on task, and plenty of bad habits to pick up again.  
I know he now thinks about the consequences of his actions, and hope that will lead him to make better decisions.

And somehow, despite all the horrors he experienced on the inside, he's managed to grow up into a pretty decent man. 
There were a few years early on when I didn't think that possible, he was so broken and abused. 
Something weekly to help pass the time. 
And fortunately he'll come home to a family more prepared to help than we were when he first started on his spiral downward. 
Many ex-cons are not so lucky to have such support. 
Something grounding for the soul.