Hudson Valley Reentry Network
Ernest Henry a dear friend shared this with us today:
Prison is a humiliating experience, one that constantly whittles away at your sense of self worth and humanity. It’s a dark human hole where more than most lose themselves and their sense of right and wrong. It could have been the mental, emotional, social and spiritual death of me, but PEOPLE saved me. First, through the love and support of my family, then when they passed away, or moved on with their lives, the volunteers that facilitated the educational and therapeutic programs stepped in and became my surrogate family. They reminded me that I was worth caring for, worth saving. They understood I came to prison as a young man who could not see the bigger and better options life had to offer me. They understood that I didn’t know any better, but more so, they believed if I knew better, I would do better, so they offered the best parts of themselves with the knowledge they voluntarily brought to men like me— in that dark place called prison and I learned to be better. Not just from they knowledge they brought, but more so, from the love and concern it was packaged in. Then there was my wife Kathy. Who proved to me that I was deserving of a better life after my social punishment. In retrospect, I come to realize in a dark place you need light and to me and the millions of people in prison, people who reach out in love are the light in that dark place. Those people are what saves us, not the punishment of isolation from the rest of the world. Not prison programs and in most cases, not us. It’s the people who reach out to us in love, when we are in that dark place that makes us better. That makes us want to do and be better.
- Ernest Henry 24 years