Let me tell you a few stories. I was recently in the box with someone who’s been on the row for a long time. He was wearing out. This is a concern for all of us who have spend decades here: You don’t only worry about staying sane; no, you also have to fight against becoming dead inside. Rage and depression are two emotions you experience often in a prison environment, so it can seem like a good idea to shut down. And, if that happens, you can easily get in a rut, where life is just going through the motions.
I’m not using any names, as I was told this in confidence, but this guy said, “I had planned to waive my appeals.” I was really shocked. I mean, I get it. This life can leave much to be desired and there are days when you wonder what’s the point? Maybe you begin to doubt if you’ll be able to avoid going crazy for another 10 or 20 years (a reasonable concern when there’s no end in sight). So I get it … but at the same time most of the dudes who dropped their appeals didn’t really fit in. The person I’m talking about has a great reputation and (I thought) a positive outlook.
“It all started to seem pointless,” he told me. Do you know what turned things around? Finding someone to write who he could connect with. I don’t mean a woman to fall in love with. That can be nice, sure, but this was a happily married couple, both of whom came to visit the person I’m telling you about. Just to have them in his life expanded his world, which seemed to be nothing but prison. I believe this is what was crushing his spirit. No more plans to drop any appeals. Do you see what I’m saying? The work you do does make a difference. It can literally save a life!