The other day I had a casual conversation in the “Hole,” which is kind of like the jail within the prison. Groups here are structured a little differently because the guys are in locked cages while we run the group. That greatly limits activities we can do, so a lot of the time I just resort to discussion.
I overheard the guys say something about a fire in someone’s cell and jumped in on their conversation… “Someone’s cell caught on fire?” I asked. “No no, HE lit his cell on fire,” an inmate responded pointing at the guy in the cage next to him. I turned to him, “YOU set your cell on fire? Why?” then the conversation went something like this:
IP (inmate patient): Yea, that’s why I’m back here. I was tryin to commit suicide. So I took some White Lightnin…. you know what white lightning is?
Me: No, what is it?
IP: It’s vodka we make out of the pruno
SIDENOTE: Pruno is wine they make by letting the fruit they get ferment… yes, the inmates have a way to make their own wine)
IP: So I took the White Lightnin and poured it all over me and all over the bed. And then I lit the sheets on fire, and then BAM everything was just on fire and I was coughin cuz of smoke, that shit BURNED
SIDENOTE: They also have their own ways of making lighters in the cell, I’m telling you, these guys have a way to make a lot of things…
Me: Oh wow, are you okay? How are your burns?
IP: The cops came fast enough, so it was only my leg and face and it’s not bad at all. Like no blisters or nothin
Me: Well thank God for that, can I ask why you wanted to commit suicide? You don’t have to answer if you don’t feel comfortable..
IP: I was on the wrong meds and I just had lost my sister and her son in a robbery, so I was gone, not in the right mindset. And I just decided I wanted to die, so I lit my cell on fire.
To the normal person, this conversation may seem very out of the ordinary and maybe even dark… but in this world… this is just a normal day to day conversation. I mean literally after this conversation one of the inmates told us of how someone once made him mad so he slit his neck.
My heart breaks everyday for these guys. Some, because for what they did they don’t deserve all that has come to them, and for others at just how far gone they are from humanity. This is a broken world we live in. I only hope I can spread some light in this dark place.
The gospel gives me so much hope though. I’ve seen how it has completely changed some of their lives, and has caused them to be completely new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). That is why I want to be here, and share the good news!