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 over20 years of incarceration, the most meaningful and genuine relationship I’ve shared has been with a person convicted of a sex offense — an untouchable!
It began one afternoon when I was returning from my prison job. Surprisingly, the T.V. in the dayroom was on a baseball game, and my favorite team was playing. I love baseball, but it is a sport that few prisoners watch. So to discover it on the TV was a pleasant gift. There was only one other person watching the game. He was a clean cut white guy who recently transferred to the prison for to complete a sex offender program. He was an “untouchable.”
As soon as I settled in to enjoy the game, a black prisoner very rudely invaded the common area and changed the T.V. to a day-time soap opera program. I immediately challenged his behavior.
Initially, he began to explain how it was customary for the T.V. to be placed on this soap opera daily, but I refuted his argument with the fact that the white guy and I were watching the baseball game already. Next, he turned to the divisive argument that the “untouchable” didn’t count, and what type of black man was I, to select baseball over a soap opera — in conjunction with supporting an “untouchable” nevertheless?
I responded sternly, “I’m the type of black guy who loves baseball and was prepared to defend anyone who wanted to watch it.” After throwing a temper tantrum, the agitator departed.
Maybe moments later, the white prisoner commended me for standing up to the bully. He explained to me how the past three years of incarceration had been filled with guys like the agitator. As a result of his “untouchable” status, cruel and senseless discrimination had dominated his life. I informed him that I was a prisoner 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 to free society as productive citizens.
My new friend was college-educated, successful and came from a wealthy family. Conversely. I entered prison an eight-grade dropout, with criminalistic values that I’d picked up in foster care. He had been to all of the places that I wanted to go and had no problem with showing me the roadmap on how to get there. Our friendship became invaluable. Since he’d had such a positive impact on my my life, I gave him the nickname, “The Game Blesser.”
We hung out in the common area and on the recreation yard. He shared his story and I detailed mine. The Game Blesser told me he’d never raped or molested anyone, and I believed him. 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 statue.
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 casted over his community; 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, to me, was a human. He was by far the most genuine and quality human I’d met in my life. He was real, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be touched by him.
Upon his release, I received a correspondence that described his road trip home. Present in the vehicle were the newly released Game Blesser, his mother, and wife. Once they drove from the prison grounds, the Game Blesser said he began to cry. He informed me that everyone in the vehicle thought the origin of his tears was his new freedom. However, my friend wrote, “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 incarcerated 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.
Jeremy Busby #881193
Mark Stiles Unit
3060 FM 3514
Beaumont, TX 77706