I’m half-Italian, on my mother’s side. Grandma was from Bari. Grandpa was from Calabria, having left the town of Sersale for Brooklyn in 1906. In mia famiglia when you get really mad about something you erupt. You bellow curses (in Italian for better effect), you jump up and down, turn bright red, gesticulate wildly. If the cause of the rage is especially outrageous you throw things. The reason for this uninhibited display is not to harm anyone or to communicate a volatile stream of emotions to an audience. It’s to rid yourself of the corrosive mix of anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, and betrayal that you feel when something has savaged your sense of what’s right and fair and just.

When someone in the family has gone off like a Roman candle you say that he or she is pazzo (“crazy”, pronounced “bots”). For the last two days I’ve been pazzo, but without the vivid exothermal display.

It just isn’t right, and I’m pissed!

They took James Prindle to prison on Wednesday. We have an appeal in, but the fact is James has begun to serve a 22-year term of hard time for a crime he did not commit—a crime he could not commit. The last time I spoke with him on the phone from the jail in Memphis he was upset. He had been talking with his father and his 15- and 13-year old half-brothers in Maine earlier that morning. “Their voices changed. My brothers’ voices changed. Last time I saw them they were squeaky. The next time I see them I’ll be 37.”

It was hard not to develop a lump in my throat.

It was a bit easier to get James into a more upbeat mood. We talked about hiking in the forests and mountains of western Washington. James said he would really enjoy doing that with us. I again told him I believed he would never see the inside of a prison. BAZINGA! So, yeah, now I’m pazzo.

I can’t get the image out of my head of James utterly alone in a locked prison cell far removed from any friendly soul. I’m hoping he doesn’t feel utterly abandoned as well. That’s not the case, of course—we’re all out here for him. Hope he can feel the vibes. I set up the phone account so he can call me from where he is now. I don’t know if or when they will let him call out. I do know that you do not need to be approved by the prison before writing to him.

Here is James’ address:

James Prindle (508396)
Northwest Correctional Complex
960 State Route 212
Tiptonville, TN  38079

Please write to him. Encourage him. We’ve got to keep his hopes up.

~ Frank Manning


(Note: Today is Frank Manning’s 63rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Frank!)


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae performing “Whispering Hope”



Monday afternoon I got a phone call from Sam Prindle, James’s father. Sam thanked me for my advocacy of his son and for staying in phone contact with James. Sam and I talked for about 45 minutes. We got to learn a little about each other and each other’s family. And I guess we both got to find out just how passionately the other cares about the young man at the center of this intolerable injustice.

Sam also read me a letter James had written to him last Thursday, his first full day of incarceration. Remarkably, James is upbeat about his situation. He wrote that the prison is much nicer than the jail. His cell is bigger and cleaner, has more natural light, a real toilet and sink instead of the steel jail combo, and he was able to take all his books and other belongings from the jail with him. In the unit he’s in the inmates are allowed to wear their own clothes and shoes. They can even order name brand shoes from a prison catalog. Even more important, James will be able to continue his high school education at a full certified and accredited school. He should be able to earn a regular high school diploma.

We’ve also come to learn that James will be kept in that juvenile unit until at least his 18th birthday. If he stays out of trouble they will keep him in that unit even longer. That’s good news. Prison can be a living hell. For James it won’t be.

I’ve spoken so many times with James now. Given his circumstances, I am always amazed at his general good mood and disposition. I don’t know how he does it. So James explained it to me. “It’s my faith in the Lord that gives me the strength.”

~ Frank Manning

12 Responses to “pazzo”

  1. 1 Mage
    September 30, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Sending him a letter Monday 🙂

  2. September 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

    There come moments where base instincts such as words or emotions fail to do us justice. We look among the innocent and watch as they are mistreated. We yell and scream for justice yet it seems like nothing happens. It is at these moments you have to remind yourself that we are asking for justice in an unjust world. The odds may not be in James’s favor but the truth will find its way forward and the ones who committed these crimes against James and his family will be brought forward to face their punishment. Hang in there James we all support you!

  3. 4 Dana Hoffman
    September 30, 2012 at 10:53 am

    “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
    -Nelson Mandela-

  4. 5 Andy Rich
    September 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Bad news to hear, is it a 22 year sentence to serve 22 years or can he come out early with good behaviour?

    • 6 Frank Manning
      September 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      He has to serve the full 22 years. He gets credit for the 2 years he’s already been in jail, so he must remian in prison until 2032.

  5. September 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I was just talking to the Lord about what they did to our brother James! He will take care of him! I will write a letter on Friday , my day off! Let’s see what happens on the appeal! I will also post this to my website quickly !

  6. September 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I am also half Italian -mia famiglia is from Piane Crate, Cosenza. My mother came to America when she was 16…I have James in my prayers and have shared this post via FB. I will get a letter off to him soon. Ciao~

  7. 9 Jeanne
    October 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Gli ultimi saranno i primi. Sento che Dio protegge James. Egli lo liberera.

    Ho bisogno dii un eroe!

  8. 10 Jeanne
    October 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I am full blooded Italian and still cannot write in Italian. Yes, when we get mad, the hand sore like a rapid fire in California! Shoes fly, and one must learn the skill of “ducking”, or accept the fate of a dent in any part of the body. One thing about Italian grown “women” is that even when we are weak, down and out, we have learned from deep inside, to overcome. James too will overcome.

    I feel God has a plan for James. Though it is “pazzo” to see this young boy go to prison. He is not going back to the family. That terribly painful life where he struggled emotionally. If we can keep him safe, where he is, and get him out in the near future, I believe the odds of him developing a stronger character will prevail, rather than him never being released from that sorrowful environment he struggled in. (home)

    I will write to James, pray for James, and pray he experiences the empowerment we can provide him while he is in need. While he develops from a teenager to a young man.

    He needs a hero.

  9. 11 Gloria
    October 2, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Thank you Frank for letting us know. I’m glad to hear he is in a good place. I’ve been holding to post because I’m still so furious about this injustice that I don’t want to say something really bad. i’m sure James will get justice one day and with that his little sister too. I hope she is very well cared.

    You know Frank, I’m sure to remember that once, steven said that James biological father didn’t want to know anything about him, in fact if I don’t remember wrong, Steven said that James father has said something along the words that James had to learn to stand up for himself (now I realise that that was probably another of the lies steven was telling us). It honestely shocked me to hear that his father had said that. Now I’m really glad to hear from you that His father is a good person who will stand up for his son.

    Truly this update has easy my heart and gives me more hope for James.

    Thanks again for the update Frank.

    ps: although i’m not Italian I perfectely understand what you mean by gettting so mad about something that you erupt. I got that feeling everytime I heard aobut what’s happening to children in America. I guess Italian and Spanish are very much alike.:)

    Happy belated birthday Frank, I pass it out the first time, didn’t even see it written. Guess the rage I had at that moment didn’t let me read clearly. Hope you enjoyed your birthday.:)

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