For days I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the emotions I’m feeling just enough to even begin writing about it. Matt called a few days ago and told us he received notification that he will soon be transferred from county jail to state prison. State prison. That sounds so scary!
I guess I should give a little bit of back story at this point. Last year Matt’s drug problem landed him in jail. He was there for about a month and a half before being released on 10 years probation. A few weeks after being released, he was picked up in a neighboring county on misdemeanor charge. He only spent a day and a half in jail before a friend bailed him out. Here’s the thing though… when you’re on probation, you can’t get arrested and not expect it to catch up with you as a probation violation. He had about 2 months before his probation officer caught wind of it and went to pick him up. At that time, he fought with the officers and earned himself a felony obstruction charge to go along with his probation violation.
Matt has been back in county jail for more than 3 months now. His public defender told him to expect a 6 month sentence with the possibility of being released at 3 months. He was certain he would be released the day he went to court because it had already been 3 months. We talked to him about how he planned to support himself when he got out. We suggested a sober halfway house and offered to help make that happen but he wasn’t interested in that option. I prayed. I asked God for so many things. I asked for God to help me accept whatever the outcome of court would be. I asked God to provide housing options for Matt. I asked him to provide rehabilitation and job training options. I asked him to help change Matt’s attitude and give him the desire to live a different kind of life and to desire sobriety.
One thing I’ve learned over the years, God often answers my prayers but rarely in the manner I expect him to.
When Matt went to court he was given the anticipated 6 month sentence. What he didn’t get was the option to be released at 3 months. It seems privileges like that are reserved for inmates who show desire for reform while they’re incarcerated, such as inmates who work. Matt was offered work when he went in but it required him getting a haircut so he turned it down.
Now Matt has to complete the 6 month sentence. somehow I just assumed that his time would be served at the county jail. That’s not the case. He will be finishing his sentence in a state prison. People have told me state prison isn’t as bad as it sounds but, to me, it sounds like BIG jail. It sounds like hardened criminals. It sounds like moving from boyhood mistakes to grown man punishment. Maybe that’s silly but it’s just how it feels to me.
Now I’m trying to remember the specific things I prayed for. Housing. He’s got a roof over his head for the next 3 months. Rehabilitation and job training. Perhaps there are programs available at state level that are not an option to him at the county level. (And this time, knowing he’d be out already if he’d chosen the haircut and work, I suspect he’ll take any job option they offer.) Change of attitude. I think God’s still working on that. When I talked to Matt 2 days ago, he just sounded defeated. When David talked to him last night, he was more receptive to the idea of a halfway house after jail (although it’s still not something he wants). Maybe over the next 3 months, we’ll see some real change. I’m still praying.