By: Jerry Metcalf #251141
During my first 10 years of incarceration I refused to accept responsibility for my actions. I blamed others and often lied, telling people I was innocent or that my victim deserved to die. Because I felt like there was no hope due to my extremely long sentence, I spent most of those years drunk and acting like an idiot, not caring whether I lived or died.
Then, during the middle 5 years of my incarceration, I began to realize that I needed to turn my life around whether I was going home early or not. It was during this time that I began to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. I am currently in my 14th year. I can proudly declare that I haven’t taken a drink of alcohol since 2010.
During these most recent ten years of my 25 years of incarceration, I’ve made leaps and bounds in my reformation.
I taught myself to write. I am most proud of that. I’ve written and published over 50 articles and essays for various journals, magazines, and news outlets. I am a contributing writer for The Marshal Project, Prison Writers, and Prison Life and Beyond. I am also the author of the monthly prison advice column, Ask Jerry, which helps people to understand what prison life is like and what can be expected if they or one of their loved ones ever end up on the wrong side of the law. I have written a fantasy fiction novel, Blood & Steel, which is currently being published on Wattpad.com in serialized installments (Wattpad.com/JAMetcalfjr). I have published 2 poetry books, Prison Poetry Vol I, and Vol II. I have also published 4 essay compilations, Prison Essays Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4. I currently have a prison-slang dictionary and a prison cook book in the pipeline to be published as well (find them all on Amazon.com).
I’ve earned many different certificates, and even a two-year degree in religious studies. I’ve also learned how to paint abstract art, and my paintings hang in households across Michigan and the rest of the United States (check some out on Redbubble.com/JerryMetcalf).
I’ve learned to read and write Spanish, though I grow rusty when not using it, but it helps that each winter I hold a class teaching Hispanic prisoners how to speak English, and American prisoners how to read and write Spanish.
I’ve learned how to weld, woodwork, lay tile, pour concrete, repair and install plumbing, and countless other hands-on skills while working maintenance here at the prison for eight years. I will never have a problem finding and keeping a job.
I currently (and for the past 5 years) train service dogs for Paws With a Cause (pawswithacause.com). This not only blesses me with an employable skill, but also offers me an avenue for giving back to our great state. My dogs currently help a wide variety of people, but I am most proud of the dogs I’ve trained for autistic children.
I am a Prisoner Observation Aid, which is a prison job that requires a high degree of trust from the Department of Corrections because I not only monitor suicidal men who suffer from mental illness, but I also must sit and talk to these men about their problems in confidence, making sure to never allow their woes to reach other convict’s ears.
Last, but not least, I’ve been on a spiritual journey these past 25 years. And along the way, I’ve read, practiced, or studied just about every religion known to man, seeking what parts might best fit me. I now meditate and pray each day to maintain a beautiful spiritual health. I also exercise and stretch to maintain mind and body health. Though, unfortunately (due to working a plumbing job in prison that exposed me to heavy metals), I now suffer from stage 3 Kidney Disease and Chronic Hypertension.
My new mission in life is to serve others. Like my hero, Nelson Mandela once said: “The rent we pay for space here on earth is service to others.” I truly believe this. That’s why I’ve adopted it as my motto.
I tell you all of this so that you will see why a “Good Time” law is so badly needed in Michigan. I and thousands of others have completely rehabilitated ourselves. We are ready to reenter society and once again become productive, tax-paying members. But the only thing stopping us is these absurdly long sentences that were given to us during the “lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key” era.
Keeping me in prison for another 10 years until I reach my minimum outdate does nothing to further justice or my rehabilitation. The only thing 10 more years in prison will accomplish is making me too old to be employable. Those extra ten years will keep me from coming home and earning my way. They will keep me from paying taxes. They will also almost guarantee that the state will be forced to take care of me once I am free as well, because I will have had zero time to save for my own retirement.
My name is Jerry Metcalf and I wish to make the world a better place. If you do too, please join me @Facebook.com/jerryametcalf.jr. And join the Michigan Justice Advocacy group @ mijustice.org.
Facebook.com/Jerryametcalf.jr or JerryMetcalfArtist
Email: J.Metcalfauthor@yahoo.com, or @ Jpay.com