I don’t remember if I mentioned this before: Every Thursday afternoon, I facilitate a support group for inmates who are serving life sentences. The participants range in age. The youngest is in his mid-30s, and the oldest is in his late 60s. If I recall correctly, the minimum amount of time served by an inmate in the group has been fifteen years; the longest has been thirty-two years.
I’ve been running this group for well over a year, and the members have been through a lot with each other. They conducted mock board hearings in which every week one of the participants was the subject of intense and challenging questions posed by the others who role-played commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings. They expected each other to be honest and accountable for their past actions and choices, and they didn’t hesitate to call out somebody if they thought he wasn’t being entirely truthful.
Last week I added a new member to the group, and today was his first day of attendance. Given the cohesiveness that had developed over the past year among the group members, I wasn’t one bit surprised when, upon my introducing the new member to the rest, one of the other inmates immediately demanded, “Who did you kill?”