Dear outside world, my name is Christopher Trotter. I’m calling from inside the belly of the beast at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, Carlisle, Indiana.
I would like to speak to you in regards of prisoners with violent cases being oppressed and forgotten about. While I understand the public’s concern regarding prisoners with violent cases, the public is only hearing one side of the story.
It seems as if prisoners with violent cases’ lives do not matter or are deemed by those in power as being unable to be rehabilitated. In Indiana in the past 30 years, there has not been one bill passed giving rehabilitated violent offenders a second chance. But allowing them to die in prison.
Like for instance, during the Coronavirus pandemic, there was only discussion regarding releasing non-violent offenders, while leaving offenders with violent cases to die by the Coronavirus. Which is a sentence that prisoners were not sentenced to: death.
All prisoners with violent cases are not bad people. It’s just that politicians, prosecutors, and judges have decided to put them in all one category. However, there are two classes of violent prisoners.
There’s one class of prisoners who are actually remorseful and have demonstrated this in their everyday walk in prison. He or she has completed every educational and vocational program that prison has to offer. While in prison they have maintained clear conduct reports, staying drug and alcohol free, volunteering- making their time doing various different things and helping others.
And then you have another class of violent prisoners, who come to prison and don’t do any- and don’t do anything to better themselves. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. The point is that we should be given a second chance. We understand the nature of our charges will not change. But the man can change.
It is clear, in Indiana especially, that the lawmakers have been rendering vindictive justice whether it is operating on a principle of reformation. Now to speak about myself, I’ve completed every program the DOC has to offer me. I’ve gotten my education, vocational programs. I’ve taken “thank it forward” change, stress management, anger management, [inaudible]. I’ve completed the Plus Program Purpose Living Unit served. But still, I’ve not given a second chance. I haven’t had a conduct report in over eight years. So there has to be something wrong with the system.
When is enough enough? When is the system going to truly start to believe in rehabilitation opposed to this vindictive justice? I’m not in prison for killing anyone or raping anyone or molesting anyone. All I did was hit someone. Man, it’s time for the system to work for me and others that have taken the initiative to rehabilitate themselves.
Do you say these men don’t deserve a second chance of life- at life? Is this system truly bent on vindictive justice? Instead of allowing a person to rehabilitate themselves and judging that person on the progress that he has made since his incarceration? Giving that person a second chance at life?
There has to be something wrong with this system. ‘Cause it’s not right; it’s not fair. And if we allow this system to keep clinging to just vindictively incarcerate people without any means of letting them out, what does that say as a society? What does it say?
I’ve been in prison 38 years now. I’m a changed man. Shouldn’t I deserve a second chance at life? I wasn’t sentenced to death, but do I deserve to die a slow death in prison? Does rehabilitation mean anything?
Let me know what you think out there. Because I think it’s wrong. I think the system is wrong. And if we don’t do something about it, there would be a lot of people that have changed their lives for the better who will end up dying in prison. Never receiving a second chance.
Because statistics show those prisoners that have done 30 or 40 years in prison, the recidivism rate is low for them. While your so-called non-violent prisoners are the ones that constantly play a part in the revolving door of prison. Either the system needs to change or the system needs to be abolished. And the way I see it right now is: it needs to be abolished because it’s not fair.
Thank you for listening to me. My name is Christopher Trotter. And prisoner’s lives matter too.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.