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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Religion | 3 comments

Things That Matter: the Compassionate Jail Guard

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NOTE: This is a new series I’ll be doing on Things That Matter – the nonpolitical aspects of life.

It was Sunday morning when I visited a jail in San Diego County to see a young person in there for a dumb probation violation that he acknowledges as such. This was not a “hard” lockup for hardened prisoners but a jail. I was there with his step dad who loves him very much. They bring all of the inmates whose relatives signed up for visit out and they sit in a yard with their family to talk for a bit.

After the visit was over we headed to the exit gate and the guard at the door said to us: “Thank you for coming.”

And I said, “Thank you.”

And he said, “It’s good for them to see that there are people who care enough to come out to see them.”

And I said, “That’s very nice of you to say that.”

And this guard then said: “They’re people, just like you and me, and they made a mistake. They made a mistake and they’re here. There are lots of people who’ve made mistakes and haven’t been caught yet.”

I said: “How did you find out about me?”

And he said, “I’ve made mistakes in my life too. Thanks for coming.”

THAT is what I call a dispay of spirit…that “spark”…from someone who gets it.

He made my day — or, rather decade.

And how lucky those mostly young inmates are to have someone so thoughtful in authority in their midst.



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  • sheknows

    It is always great to see compassion,kindness,patience,understanding and all things positive from others. Just when you think everyone is in their own world, they step into yours for a moment 🙂

  • jdledell

    Joe – It costs a person so little to be nice, compassionate and understanding. Yet it is a priceless gift for those on the receiving end. I loved your story and as I read, a tear rolled down my cheek. That is when I know I have absorbed the meaning of the story and luxuriate in the warmth it brings to my soul. Keep the stories coming Joe, it is something all of us need. Even if it is for a moment, leaving our cocoon of worries and self absorption,to reach out to an other in empathy and understanding is important. It matters little whether the experience is direct or vicarious,it cracks open the soul to show everyone is a human being made in the image of G-d.

  • zusa1

    Thank you for sharing this story.

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