Yet even if it were a cool day outdoors, I should still be burning up.
I have been smoldering ever since I visited the Facebook page of the mother of one of our kids where I see her bragging about her six (and soon to be eight) kids, and where she is receiving compliments from oh-so-knowledgeable Facebook friends about what a wonderful mother she is. The truth is, after she pops them out she pretty much treats her kids like used paper cups.
Has our throw-away culture sunk so low that parents like this woman think they can get away with treating their own children as things to be used, neglected, and ultimately disposed of when and how convenient?
Is the idea of self-responsibility so alien in our culture today that a mother can abandon her child to defend himself alone from the misguided and wanton prosecutorial power of the state and from her abusive and crack-addicted ex-husband’s (her description, not mine) intention to see the boy destroyed for something he didn’t do?
The boy of whom I am speaking is, of course, James Prindle. And his mother is Monica Charlene Wilson-Sanders, an unemployed convenience store clerk, waitress, assembly line worker, and former student of the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology, who lives in Cordova TN, a suburb of Memphis with pockets of poor people concentrated in apartment complexes. Thus far Monica has ignored my pleas to stand by her son—something she will not do despite the fact that she told me she “always had doubts” about James’ guilt.
I am not a judgmental person, but I cannot refrain from commenting that it is precisely this kind of parenting that lands good kids in jail. It is precisely this kind of parenting, too, that creates raped, brutalized, and dead kids in prison.
Monica has never taken the time or summoned the will to explain her situation to me, but I can only surmise that she has adopted a course which, perceived from whatever psycho-social corner she has painted herself into, must appear to her to be the line of least resistance. Yet if she lives long enough to ever become unselfish or introspective, she will regret this as possibly the most shameful mistake in her whole life.
When she recognizes her abandonment of James as the sin against creation it is, it will be much too late to do anything about it. The torment and destruction she will have wrought will then be complete and irreversible.
Now is not too late, but the present moment is passing.
James’ trial begins on June 19th.
Groove of the Day
May 28th – We have just received disturbing news that James has been beaten up in jail. He has a black eye, his eyes are bloodshot, and he was shaking uncontrollably while being visited this morning by our friend-on-the-ground in Memphis. He wouldn’t tell our friend what had happened to him, only that “I want to talk to Stephen.” We are awaiting a call from him, and I will report what we learn when we learn it.
Monica, is this what you want for your son? It will only get worse.
May 28th (evening) – Stephen has called to say he heard from James and, although James was pummeled pretty severely and has sustained injuries, he was feeling pretty good at the end of the phone call and was even laughing at Stephen’s terrible jokes.
Here is what happened… a group of 15-20 inmates decided to create some chaos in the jail by stuffing the toilets with toilet paper to make them overflow. Somehow James has developed a work ethic which causes him to clean things in the pod, just to have something to do. He will sometimes go into the showers and scrub them without being told.
His jailors love James’ initiative, but today when James cleaned up the flooded bathroom, his fellow inmates did not. After all, he was undoing the disruption these inmates had created on purpose, and the inmates interpreted it as an affront to them. So James was jumped and beaten by about four of five of them.
The guards felt sorry for James and sent out for a special fast food meal for him which consisted of biscuits and gravy, cole slaw, Mountain Dew–just the kind of thing a Southern boy would consider “comfort food.” The guards placed James in a holding cell so James could eat his meal in peace and without further harrassment. James said the meal was so good, it was almost worth getting beat up for.
James survived the attack and his wounds will probably heal in time for the trial. But here is the important point: James clearly does not understand the upside-down world of prison where what is bad on the outside is good inside the bars, and what is good on the outside (like exercising initiative and cleaning up a mess) is bad inside the bars.
If James is imprisoned in an adult prison for a sex crime on a child (which he did not commit), James will be eaten alive by the inmates. He is a small and sensitive boy, and so vulnerable that his lawyer confirms that he would not come out of prison alive. He will be the butt of inmate bullying and terror.
Is this what you want, Monica?
Somehow, in spite of everything you and Jeff have done to this boy, he has turned himself into a good kid; even his jailors love him.
Why can’t you?
You would stand by and see him thrown away, and destroyed or killed in prison?
What kind of mother are you?