Thanks, but I think I'll pass on being pals with a sex offender

Yesterday, I got a big envelope in the mail about the prisoner pen pal program I had signed up for. I sat with my hubby, and we looked through the info. He cautions me when I get taken away with some idea of mine. I tend to be too trusting when I first meet people. I tend to see the good in people to the point of fault. When I worked with parolees and people with drug problems, he knew I would come home many days enthusiastically describing how great my new clients were. "Yeah, you'd never know he committed armed robbery. He's the nicest guy!" I know this sounds ridiculous, and I acknowledge that I can be rather ridiculous. I'm not sure what it is about me, but it takes me awhile to figure out that some people aren't all they seem to be. Predictably, my hubby also grew used to me coming home a little droopy, "You'll never guess what happened today. One of my clients went bat crazy and put a hole in the wall when she slammed the coat rack into it." Or, "I couldn't believe it! One of the women punched a police officer!"

As you've probably gathered, my hubby makes decisions much more rationally than I do sometimes. As we went through the paperwork, he voiced his concern about the organization who runs the pen pal program. On one of the information sheets there was a misspelling. The paperwork stated that relationships should remain "plutonic." I trust they didn't intend to reference rocks at this point. So with that first strike against the program, I explained why I wanted to participate. I talked about my wanting to help people, being sad that I had to leave school after 3 years and trying to come to terms with the fact that I might never finish and become a counselor. Hubby told me he trusted me and told me he supported me. 

My pen pal's name and prisoner number were included in the packet of info. So, today I looked him up and am sad to report he's a sex offender. Bah! Of all things--why couldn't I get a drug offender or someone who stole a car. Do they even put people in jail for stealing cars? When I worked with people with criminal histories, I can get past just about anything other than sex offenders. Sex offenders scare the heck out of me. I imagine my husband saying, "As well they should." Yes dear. I have worked semi-effectively with sex offenders in the past. Of course I was just helping them get housing or working on their anger issues.  I never had to help them come to terms with their sex offending. And I most certainly would have had great difficulty if I had been asked to. I always felt so guilty when I actually worked well with a sex offender. As if that said something very awful about me. But I was in a work environment in the past. This is a pen PAL. I feel just sick inside thinking about being a sex offender's pal. <faint>

So now, I guess I am going to contact the pen pal program and tell them I cannot be a pen pal with this person. I feel so guilty! I feel like a fraud. Here I was all gung ho, "everyone is worthy of compassion because they are human." "As a society, we shouldn't throw people away. People should be given some support to get better." blah blah blah. Well so much for that. I just feel fear! Eek! What happens when he gets out of prison? What if I actually am able to work with him? Again, I wonder what that says about me. Of all people, it seems a sex offender would benefit from spiritual practice. Most of the time, they get out of jail. And we all have seen the stories where they reoffend. I'm not even sure what to tell the pen pal people, other than I don't think I could work with someone with that kind of criminal background.  I certainly agree with the pen pal program when it says that great healing can come through spiritual practice, but I guess I'm not up to offering my support with this person. I wish it didn't make me feel like such a loser. 


Oh Honestly Erin on April 22, 2011 at 11:55 AM said...

Hi Krista!

I've done the prison pen pal thing off and on since I was in middle school (until my mom found out---that wasn't a very good conversation). For the last 10 years, I've been writing to someone on death row. It can be rewarding at moments, knowing that your letters are brightening someone's day, but I find that he often gets a little pushy with wanting to utilize my resources. (i.e. contacting private investigators, passing on messages, things like that which I'm not comfortable doing.)

I've also written to people who were only doing doing time for a few years. One was in for drugs, another shot a Mexican in the ass (wtf). I have something written on my blog from awhile ago, with pictures even, if you want to read it!

But like you, I'd NEVER want to write to a sex offender!

Post a Comment