Hanging out or talking to a sex offender in prison is extremely taboo. In fact, it could possibly get you hurt or even killed. The unchecked petty culture that demonizes people who have been convicted of a sex crime is both prominent and ridiculous. In over 20 years of incarceration, I can say that the most meaningful and genuine relationship I’ve shared has been with a person convicted of a sex offense — what we call an “untouchable.”
Our friendship began one afternoon when I was returning from my prison job. To my surprise, there was a baseball game on the T.V. in the dayroom and my favorite team happened to be playing. I love baseball, but it’s a sport very few prisoners watch.
There was only one other person watching the game. He was a clean-cut white guy who was recently transferred to our prison to complete a sex offender program. He was an “untouchable.”
As soon as I settled in to enjoy the game, a black prisoner invaded the common area and changed the T.V. to a day-time soap opera. I immediately challenged his behavior.
He started to explain how it was customary for the T.V. to be tuned to a soap opera at this time, but I refuted his argument with the fact that the white guy and I were already watching the baseball game. I’m the type of black guy who loves baseball and was prepared to defend anyone who wanted to watch it. Next, he tried the divisive argument that the untouchable’s opinion didn’t count. And what type of black man was I to choose baseball over a soap opera anyway?
Finally, after he finished throwing his temper tantrum, the agitator departed.
Moments later, the white prisoner thanked me for standing up to the bully. He explained how the past three years of incarceration had been filled with guys treating him like the agitator did. As a result of his “untouchable” status, he told me, cruel and senseless discrimination had been a consistent part of his prison life. I informed him that I was a prisoners’ rights activist and discrimination in any form was completely unacceptable in my world.
Ironically, the baseball game became a distant distraction. The white prisoner and I became deeply engaged in an intense yet refreshing discussion — and a true friendship was formed. My new friend and I became inseparable. We quickly discovered that we had much more in common than just baseball. We shared a burning desire to return back to the free society as productive citizens.
He was college-educated, successful and came from a wealthy family. On the contrary, I entered prison an eight-grade dropout with criminalistic values that I’d picked up in foster care. He’d been to all of the places I wanted to go and had no problem with showing me the roadmap for how to get there. Our friendship became invaluable to both of us. As a result of all the positive impact he made on my life, I gave him the nickname, “The Game Blesser.”
We hung out together in the common area and on the recreation yard. He shared his story and I detailed mine. The Game Blesser never raped or molested anyone! He was a successful high school girls basketball coach who’d gotten twisted up in a trivial parent/coach dispute over playing time. In the end, a personal text he sent to the student landed the Game Blesser in prison for violating a teacher/student statute.
I’d never seen a more remorseful individual. The Game Blesser was clearly pained by the actions that led to his incarceration. He was ashamed of the embarrassment that was inflicted upon his family, the shock cast over his community, and the strain that had invaded his new marriage.
I vividly remember seeing him cry real tears as he expressed his regrets. While prison culture labeled him an “untouchable,” the Game Blesser was only human to me. He was by far the most genuine and highest quality human being I’d met in my life. He was real, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to know him.
Upon his release, he was picked up by his mother and wife and I received a letter from him describing his road trip home. Once they drove off the prison grounds, he wrote, he began to cry. And while everyone in the vehicle thought the origin of his tears was his newfound freedom, his letter read, the truth was different.
“The root of my sadness and tears had nothing to do with my freedom, but everything to do with the fact that I had to leave you behind in such a dark place.”
Once again, I was touched. He signed his letter, “The Game Blesser.”
Jeremy is serving 75 years for murder in Texas. He is a former staff writer for the Texas Prison Newspaper, The ECHO. His writings have been published by The Marshall Report, The Crime Report, and Minutes After Six.