Archive for May 2nd, 2011


paul henry’s progress

Things have improved since we declared a truce with Pendleton. Despite the fact that Michell has been permitted to screw around with the behavior point scoring system and the cost (in points) for members of the A-2 Unit to purchase leisure privileges and visitations with their families, Paul Henry’s efforts to meet expectations are showing results. After a long stretch of time during which it appears Paul Henry’s points have been deliberately suppressed by the staff, we are seeing a moderation in this attitude.

The top leadership of the prison appears to be sincere in its efforts to treat Paul Henry with fairness and respect. Pendleton’s scoutmaster, seeing that Paul Henry has been spending all but an hour a day of his leisure time in his cell to save points for his mother’s visits, recruited Paul Henry into the scouts so he will at least be able to have some outside leisure time on weekends. And last week Paul Henry was recommended for, and appointed to, the student council. Only thirteen kids in all of Pendleton serve in this capacity. Paul Henry was surprised and encouraged by this development.

You have to admire the kid. He has his priorities straight.

Because of Michell’s new pricing for not only parental visits but for leisure privileges like TV, Paul Henry has been forced to choose between small daily pleasures and visits with his mother—and he has been foregoing the daily privileges for the visits. Every time Michell squeezes, Paul Henry keeps looking more to me like a kid who does not belong there. Even the prison’s psychiatrist agrees Paul Henry’s visits with him are unnecessary and are to be discontinued: there’s nothing wrong with the kid.

Paul Henry impresses me as a boy who naturally models the words of a poem by William Ernest Henley, “Invictus” :

Out of the night that covers me, / Black as the Pit from pole to pole, / I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance / I have not winced nor cried aloud. / Under the bludgeonings of chance / My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears / Looms but the Horror of the shade, / And yet the menace of the years / Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, / How charged with punishments the scroll. / I am the master of my fate; / I am the captain of my soul.

Alex says he has memorized this poem and quotes its lines for fellow prisoners who need the encouragement. Nelson Mandela is said to have recited it each day he was imprisoned.

I’m proud to be in Paul Henry’s corner. I hope you feel the same.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Iggy Pop performing “The Undefeated”