Behind The Razor Wire - Testimonials on how the program is changing lives.
A letter from Inmate, Second Chance Program, September, 2006:
Dear Mrs. Sebastian,
There was always something missing in my life. I couldn't stand to be alone. The nights in an empty house were unbearable. I have been married three times to prove it. When they left me it felt like they took a piece of my heart. Even now as I think of them I feel the emptiness. Maybe I needed more love or attention than they could give.
After three failed marriages and five trips to prison it is hard for me to believe there is an ounce of good left in me. How could anyone or anything care for me? I had stopped caring for myself. Even I believed I should have received a harsh sentence. What good have I brought into the world?
Well, there are two things, a son, Jacob and a daughter, Alisha. But how can they ever know I love them? I wish I could blame someone for my shortcomings but the harsh reality of it all is that the separation between us is my fault.
About 4 months ago I wrote these words in my Bible. I think Shakespeare wrote them. I think they mean something different to everyone. Love is strong as death. Because of my bad decisions my children have never gotten to know my love. When weather beaten I come back ... my body a sack of bones, broken within ...: God help me heal.
This time I'm not asking for a deal. I just told God at lights out when I was all alone that I loved Him. And I asked that He forgive me. All I know is that when I went to sleep I didn't feel so empty or alone. The next day I'd play the part of being a convict. That night I would ask God again for his forgiveness of the sins I committed that day and could I please feel his love so I didn't feel so alone. Again an easy peace would come and I would fall asleep. But I think God saw where I was falling short through the day so he sent in the troops. Four of them ... Greyhounds!
We have so much in common with these dogs. They are literally coming off death row and now because of them I feel like I am too. It is the sentence I gave myself a long time ago. The difference between me and the dogs is that they did their best. But when the dogs stop winning they are put to death. This was the norm until this lady, Beverly Sebastian, came up with the idea of a second chance program.
Our hope for the dogs is that they will someday move in with a family who loves them as much as we do. As bad as I've been, Bingo came to me and with his big gold eyes he let me know he trusted me. I can't think of anyone else that trusted me enough to put their care in my hands. When he rested his head on my leg and looked at me it didn't take words for me. He loved me. I'm 49 years old and when I'm playing with Bingo and Oscar I act like a kid.
The prison fence and razor wire doesn't exist for that moment in time. My heart is free and I am not alone. It's a God thing. I'm starting to think there is something left of me to save. The dogs do too. I'm not asking for a break for myself. There is something way bigger that I ask. If you or someone you know needs a true friend or you want to feel unconditional love see if one of these greyhounds might be right for you. As for me I have a promise to keep and the dogs are helping me do it.
Ron Tompkins, inmate dog handler at Pendleton CIF.
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Beverly Sebastian, 352-628-2281, Executive Director NGF, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracy Sebastian, 352-212-9089, National Training Director, email@example.com
Keith Harper, 352-628-2281, FL. Prison Program Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
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