Hi Amy. I just saw your Brent Brents story on Paula Zahn. I get it. I am a teacher at a Texas state prison (20 years) I appreciate your research, bravery in sharing, and dedication to the -real- problem… the destruction of potentially socially valuable human beings. …and they all ARE human beings. I realize, as the forensic psych on the show pointed out (that is too often pointed out without eye for a remedy) that many people are horribly as children but do not become sociopaths. But many do.
And of those, many are bright, have an ability to engage (use it to induce victims) and have other valuable qualities that make me wonder what they -could- have contributed. Truman Capote said of Perry Smith that it’s as if the two of them grew up in the same house, and he went out the front door, and Perry went out the back door. Hopefully, the cycle can be stopped, but when the trauma does occur, how do we get them out the front door? So few can see beyond the horrific deed, or get the opportunity. I am so glad you realized the knowledge that could be gained by insight into the person of Brent Brents, and how he evolved, the courage and heart to do so and to continue in the face of criticism, and for sharing your experience. I completely understand the viewpoints of the victims, but even more reason to look at prevention. Your point was well made. Thanks again. MUCH respect….
My classrooms are 3 hours long, with 14 to 25 inmates, 5 days a week, and many guys are in my class for years. The curriculum is basically whatever a teacher -chooses- to teach, so the basic academics are covered, but I allow much time for general discussion and group and one-on-one conversation. I have been fairly successful, and have found that academic success comes fairly naturally when the student/inmate/man/boy realizes he is heard and valued. Many for the first time in their lives. I’ve taught guys of all ages, but last October I was given a new position: Each class (still 3 hrs long) consists of 10 to 14 young men (boys, to me) that age from 16 to 21 years old. Many have been locked up their entire lives, like Brents. This has been a new challenge for me… I have wracked my mind and heart on what I can tell them, what I can share with them, how to help them see their self-worth, know they are worthy and capable of a fulfulling life, to help them learn to -feel-, that they are not and don’t have to be who they have been led to believe they are. These are salvageable men! There is a wasteland of smart, intuitive, valuable souls out in our world wasting away in a world of pain and hurting others as a side-effect. Your website and the words of Brents will be an invaluable resource for me. I was only able to glance, but will be studying it (website) thoroughly.
I DO want Brent Brents to know that his self-search, discovery, and SHARING will certainly have a very positive impact on many of them. I believe he will be saving lives.
I also serously thought about quitting the prison system this summer, but this story alone, yours and his has renewed and verified my feeling of purpose.
Thanks again, and please thank Brents on behalf of the young men who will benefit.