Simply Human

Written by Martin Lockett

In 2013 Martin published his memoir Palpable Irony: Losing my freedom to find my purpose, and more recently his second book, My Prison Life, a Blogger’s Insights from the Inside". During his incarceration, he has earned a Certificate of Human Services from Louisiana State University, an AA from Indiana University, a BS in Sociology from Colorado State University, and an MS in Psychology from California Coast University. Martin works as an addictions recovery coach, and facilitates impaired driver victim-impact panels. When released, he aspires to counsel at-risk youth who struggle with substance addiction.

March 30, 2016


easter bunny

This past Friday (also known as Good Friday) I volunteered to work in the visiting room. I’d been asked–along with several others–to man the table set up with freshly brewed coffee, assorted flavors of creamer, sugar, tea, instant cocoa, and all the utensils needed to prepare the drinks. Visitors–along with their inmate loved ones–were able to stop by the table and help themselves to what we had to offer.

Kids giggled as they walked up to the table because sitting behind it they witnessed two muscle-bound inmates ironically wearing harmless yellow bunny ears atop their heads. Yes, I wore the silly ears! But I reasoned that this was the lesser of two evils since another one of us had to dress up in a full white bunny suit–head and all! But he did it and the kids loved it!

The big bunny made his way around the visiting room (led by me because apparently the suit didn’t have eye openings), handing out Easter baskets full of goodies–ranging from chocolate bunnies to marshmallow bunnies to Nestle Crunch eggs–to the many children that were there to visit their father, uncles, and brothers. One little girl, who couldn’t have been more than a year old, clung to her daddy (an inmate) as she couldn’t decide whether to be terrified of the bunny or ecstatic that he was so close to her. She shrilled one second and laughed uncontrollably the next as the bunny entertained her. Indeed, this was the highlight of my time in the visiting room that day. This little girl was simply enjoying her interaction with a giant bunny with human qualities, completely oblivious to the environment she was in or the people it housed. All that mattered to her for those few precious minutes was my friend in his bunny costume. It was refreshing, innocent, and human–things I don’t get the privilege to encounter everyday.

Oh, did I fail to mention how this Easter celebration was made possible? Forgive me. It’s worth mentioning that ALL funds used to purchase the items for the visitors to enjoy–all week–came from inmate donations! All monies used to purchase the items inside the baskets and the baskets themselves came from inmate fundraisers conducted over the past several months. Furthermore, each visitor who had a small child was able to take a free picture–again, paid for through the funds generated from inmate contributions.

The actual facilitating, planning, purchasing, and orchestration of this event was done by The La Raza Club–one of several inmate cultural clubs here that are composed of and run by inmates. Each ethnic group (even Lifers) has a club that raises money and sponsors events for all of us to enjoy throughout the year. This Easter celebration for inmates and their families/loved ones is but one of several that is made possible through the efforts of these clubs and their fundraisers. Fundraisers are also planned and executed entirely by board members from the respective clubs. Items for purchase generally consists of various food items that otherwise would not be available to us (i.e., Papa Murphy’s pizza, chicken strips, barbecue ribs, etc.). As you can imagine, inmates are all too eager to contribute to these fundraisers as they offer a two-fold reward.

I volunteered both morning and afternoon visiting sessions on Friday, and I barely realized I’d spent six hours in there. The atmosphere was a stark contrast to what I’m used to–I think small children have a way of softening their environment. Parents and grandparents approached our table throughout their visiting sessions just to pour a cup of hot coffee and tell us how much they appreciated what we were doing. Did you hear that? THEY appreciated US! I cannot express how much that meant to me, to hear from someone wearing civilian clothes tell me they appreciated me. That’s not been an exchange I’ve had in many years now. Again, it was a simple, yet profound, human moment. In fact, everything that happened on Friday was simply human–there’s no other way to describe it.

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  1. boden

    As someone who has been a prison visitor this week, I can well imagine how this break from the norm would be a most welcome sight for everyone involved and can only applaud those of you who were willing to wear the bunny ears or the costume and make the day for those children

  2. SonniQ

    I came back to read this more thoroughly today. It made me think. I know he’s in prison, and that part with all the time is hard. Does he know how lucky he is? med security and high security are worlds apart. When I think about how Jamie has to live – the beatings – the inhumanity – 23 hrs alone in a Cell. I’m glad Martin doesn’t have to experience that. They are both the same age and got the same sentence, But education and programs aren’t allowed where he is. Jamie has siblings but they won’t write. I do wish Martin the best. I’m glad he had a really good day with the families. People need contact with other people.

    • mbee

      Martin absolutely knows he’s fortunate, he speaks of it often.

      • SonniQ

        You must have gotten to know him pretty well. I wish Jamie could get to med security. I don’t know what it takes or if it is possible. I also know different states do things differently. Is Martin going to write another book?

        • mbee

          I think there might be another book in Martin’s future :).

          • SonniQ

            That’s good. Today I put put my first newsletter. Did ? ask you for your email addy? My brain is mush right now. I put this first one on my blog. In future ones I want to add things – Inmates for people to write to – books inmates have written. I know of several off hand – to help promote them, and also those that have blogs. I want to bring out the human beings aspect of the “felon”. I’m so tired of the phrase, “If you do the crime you have to do the time” by people who don’t know anything – working to try to change the perception that not every inmate is a thug. I got a nice amount of views on that blog post I reblogged – did it carry over by clicking on the post?

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