What Elsinore-Bennu Means to Us
A life sentence in the state of Pennsylvania means a social death. This is the punishment that has been legislated by our state.
Because we are guilty of taking the life of another, we lost the right to have a social life. But we still live. We breathe and love and hate and have OK days and better days like all other humans.
So my questions are: is life without parole enough of a punishment? And should there be a more just sentence?
Life without parole seems like a less barbaric sentence than the death penalty. It gives the family and friends of the deceased an opportunity to face the one charged, the state has the opportunity to bring forth its evidence, and the accused has the opportunity to mount a defense.
But after the cameras leave, and judges and lawyers prepare for their next cases while the wheels of justice move forward, what has actually been accomplished?
The family and friends of the victim have an empty place in their lives that a trial may not fill. And it is like the one found guilty is sent to the moon with limited provisions, leaving the tears of his friends and loved ones in his wake.
Now there is one thing that I want you to consider: the power of human endurance.
The victim’s loved ones all must carve a new meaning of life from what’s left behind. Although some don’t, many do. They go on and decide to not let the perpetrator win. Many times, physical death causes the emotional death of others and those that stand strong in defense of their dignity should be commended.
But we, the doomed, also endure. There are those of us that accept the call of darkness and inevitably flash and tumble into the jaws of oblivion. When this happens, we lose the few pieces of us that still kept us loosely defined as part of humanity. And we succumb to seek the fitness of becoming the ultimate human hyenas.
But others fight back. The incarcerated men here, and others who share our agenda, have found a way to use the meager scraps of self-determination we managed to scrape together in this abyss.
We secured a way to sew together shreds of dignity, inflated with hints of hope, and use this to float above the depths of the living dead.
It is my opinion that only those on both sides of the coin who chose to better themselves despite their situation or condition are in the best position to help others going through similar circumstances.
People who suffered victimization and overcame their struggle are the best fit to convince someone grieving to find the inner strength to endure.
And also, it is those who have caused pain and suffering in the past and who overcame their struggle who are best equipped to find an answer to reduce the mind set in individuals that says I am entitled to your possessions, your body, your life more than you: and because I’m stronger or more cunning than you, I deserve it.
Back to my questions; is life without parole enough of a punishment? Should there be a more just sentence? What if it was placed upon the shoulders of the condemned an encouragement to find a way to retroactively abort what caused the kill?
What if we then received the added support and requisite nurturing required to continue to quash any hints of thought embedded in us that made it possible to steal another’s life?
And once we offered plausible answers and actions in our present environments, shouldn’t we be persuaded to share our conclusions with victim’s advocates and others, but especially face-to-face encounters with those whose actions are pushing them to the same ultimate condition of an empty destiny?
It was wrong for me to take another’s life and in my opinion, I deserve to suffer a social death for my actions.
But what if I can stop the same anti-social, venal, monster that enticed me to a bad decision from possessing someone else? Shouldn’t part of my sentence be to stand in defense against what I’ve done and act against it ever happening again?
The inmates we mentor here have already committed crimes, and our goal is to prevent more damage to the social structure once they leave. But what if people like us served as “medics” to the lost and dispossessed before another trial, hospital visit, or funeral? Think about it.
We can’t just continue to follow the status quo and assume that handcuffs cure criminal hearts and continue to let the violent, greedy, and pushy cycle through the steps of their damage plan.
For the Elsinore-Bennu, our resurrection comes at a cost, and our role in this think tank is our best attempt at restorative justice. That’s what this name means to us.