If you read anything today, we suggest you make it this blog post by Charlene Briner on Medium.
Briner, the chief of staff at Minnesota's Department of Education, writes frankly and emotionally about her trepidation over her adult son's upcoming return home after spending the last five-and-a-half years in the state prison system.
It's the second time he's being released, with the first having ended badly when he was unable to "find his way out of the maze of addiction, risky behavior and escalating criminal activity that had tangled and twisted his life since early adolescence."
The post offers a glimpse at parenting in extremis, while at the same time is illuminating about the ways in which criminals are treated by the current prison system.
While saying her son should be held accountable for the hurt he has caused others, she adds:
"Rather than preparing him for a life post-prison, [his] years behind bars have made him harder, and arguably less equipped to function on the outside. Barely an adult when he entered the system, he was at once streetwise and still impressionable. His youth, combined with the need to survive and prove himself, made him gravitate to the most habituated offenders, from whom he learned lessons no mother wants her child to learn."
Briner says that due to overcrowding, her son moved prisons eight times during his sentence, and she said he had to put up with some pretty bad conditions on the occasions he was moved to a county jail.
She is allowing her son to return home to live with her initially, albeit with some strict boundaries on behavior.
Her post also deals with the fallout of her son's actions, saying she has had to remain "fiercely present" for her two other sons while engaging in "some serious self-care."
And while she acknowledges how difficult the coming months will be, she ends on an upbeat note:
"After all this time, I think the best thing I can do for [him] is to continue holding on to hope. While it’s sometimes wavered, my hope that he will find his way has never been entirely extinguished. I still believe redemption is possible, and that no person’s entire life, least of all someone so young, should be judged by their worst moments or deeds.
"I’ll do my damnedest to impart that hope to my son."