One gets good friends by the grace of God! Friendship does not sprout at all times. It needs certain favorable situations to evolve and grow. In business, often you get timeserver friends who change their colors like the Chameleon. For instance, you all must be viewing movies, TV serials quite often. You need no further explanations, how instant friendship develops, flourishes, breaks, friends become bitter enemies, and afterwards turn dear, dear friends again, prepared to lay down their lives for each other – but of course without actually laying down!
Sociologists like Thomson and Daydream, after conducting a three years research in many Prisons, have concluded that friendship developed within the Prisons, forms into a unique human relationship. But do individuals enter Prison for picnicking? That is supposed to be the abode of criminals. But can the society allow them to remain as criminals, once they come out of the Prison after serving their sentences? When a criminal is constantly nagged and abused, condemned and ostracized by society, he turns into a viler and bitter individual.
Heartfelt care and concern, an understanding approach and tender regard for his feelings are necessary prerequisites to heal his inner wounds. Coupled with this, we need to learn to forgive and forget one’s past, in order to help him build a new identity. The released prisoners must be provided with grants and loans, along with their release order, to enable them to make a fresh start in life. Whether it is fructifying to conduct the reformation and rehabilitation program for the benefit of the ex-criminals when they are released, after serving their prison terms?
The friendship between the four heroes of this story, Alex, Rex, Monte and Felix happened and developed under strange circumstances. God brought them together and united them, in the Calcium Prison-in the Penicillin barrack! They were all young – more or less of equal age, 20-22. Who enters the prison Iron grill gates for doing good deeds! Such was the case with these youngsters! They were born in the countryside. Their parents were too poor to provide them college education, or stomach-full food! – The boys had no alternative but to migrate to cities.
They took their ‘flight’ to Houston, Texas. Like any combustible youngster, they too wished to get rich quickly. Is it possible to become so, by doing sundry jobs or working in road-side restaurants? Never! Their career began by taking to pick-pocketing, chain-snatching and then house-breaking. With all these trial and error methods they could not attain the reasonable standard of living – so they wished to do some thing result oriented – they picked up the latest in the line—stealing cars! They did brisk business and promptly landed in Jail, for identical crimes!
Coming and going out of the prison became their routine, and their friendship, deepened. But they were waiting for the rare opportunity, when they all will be out of the Jail at the same time. Destiny obliged them. When they were out of the Prison, they decided that time had arrived for them to strike big! Enough of local cars! Their eyes fell on a Mercedes car but their patch of bad luck had commenced! The first Mercedes they stole belonged to the Governor of Houston. If they wish, if it is expedient in public interest, the police have the ability to recover a stolen sewing needle also.
Within four hours of the theft, the Governor was again seated in the air-conditioned comfort of his Mercedes car – and our friends in the Prison-cell, badly beaten and bruised! They went through a quick trial and were promptly awarded three years rigorous imprisonment! That was their opportunity to think deep! They had chance to attend counseling sessions within the Prison. “On release from the Prison, we should also live like any other citizens of the country, by giving up the path of this type of crime”. Of late, they had heard of many such stories of ‘transformation’.
Abbas Ali, the gold-smuggler of international repute for two decades, caught, tried and after completing his five year Prison sentence, bought a plot of land at Houston, and had started building, buying and selling residential & commercial flats. He had earned so much money within two years, he deeply regretted why he wasted two decades of his life in gold- smuggling! “This is more lucrative than gold-smuggling”, he had emphatically opined! Ferdinando, who reveled in international drug-peddling, now a prosperous high-profile politician, had deep regrets about his previous career!
‘How ignorant I was then? Why I did not take up to national level politics earlier? ’ Their prison-term was about to end. The Prison authorities had announced a cash grant up to $5000, for the released prisoners under the reformation and rehabilitation program. They all decided to turn businessmen, by buying shops in a row, in West End Shopping Mall and engage in different trades! Grocery, Electrical Appliances, Photo Studio and Candy Shop, – the plans to open four shops were finalized.
After establishing in the business, all of them would marry, and lead the respectable life of house-holders! They would aim an ideal life, remain good friends, excellent neighbors and live like members of a family. But they imposed a strict condition on themselves. They will never enter into day to day discussions about business matters. Exactly after one year, they will review the issue – whether they should continue in business or revert to the old profession! They would pursue that vocation, which would be more profit-giving and more happiness-providing!
“I expect you back here soon,” the Jail Superintendent, Mr. Robertson said good-humouredly, on the day of their release from the Jail, while handing over the Government Pay Order for the grant of $5000 each. “Respected Sir, let this be our last meeting, behind the iron grills. Thank you for your co-operation and the Pay Order. Please bless us,” said the friends in unison. The Jailor listened to them in surprise! They walked out to their freedom on a sunny morning. They bought four shops in a row, in Cantrell, a suburb of Houston.
On 1st April 2007, which was incidentally the April fool’s Day, Alex’s Grocery, Rex’s Electrical Appliances, Monte’s Photo Studio, and Felix’s Candy shop were opened. From day one, they did good business. But sometimes when they recalled the adventures of their past-lives, they felt bored. But, according to the mutual understanding, they had to carry on and push the business-cart. After about a month, Alex thought that Rex was doing brisk business. “If I continue to live with honest dealings for one year, what if I forget my past expertise, he feared!
I must do something to at least maintain the level of expertise,” he surmised! But suddenly he remembered about the promise he made to his friends to remain honest for one year! But Alex failed to control his mind! ‘I must do something. This is the question of my future’ – He had arrived at a decision! When Rex was not in his Photo Studio, bidding his time, he initiated his action plan. A copper wire connected Rex’s electrical meter with Alexs’. He had to drill a small hole through the thick wall separating their shops.
He did it so efficiently and the concealed wiring was done so nicely that nobody could notice it. From that instant, Rex owned Alex’s electrical bill. ‘I now save about 40 dollars a month,’ he surmised. He was overjoyed! In the third month, when Felix purchased a second-hand car, Honda City Model, it set Rex thinking! He too didn’t want to forget his past skills, for his secure future! Felix used to park his car right in front of his Candy Shop! Rex dug a tunnel in his shop and the mouth of the subterraneous passage he created, opened right below the gas cylinder of the car.
He drilled a hole to the gas cylinder and fixed a rubber pipe that brought the gas, directly into the waiting cylinder at his shop. He made perfect arrangements for opening and closing the gas-donating hole of the cylinder! As soon as Felix parked his car, Rex profited, daily – gain of over 50 dollars a month, Rex was happy thus! In the fourth month, when Monte got his new landline phone connection, Felix thought on similar-lines. He lost no time to react. The keenly intelligent he, quickly fixed the ‘pair’ for his newly acquired ‘instrument’ through Monte’s authorized telephone connection.
Since he had the telephone facility now, he renewed his contacts with some of his old friends at New York and Montreal. He kept the instrument at a secret, and a sound- proof corner that he specially created in his shop, for the purpose. In the sixth month, Monte was restless. A sense of insecurity gripped him even in his dreams! He felt that ‘My friends are progressing and I am left far behind! ’ He knew the habit of his gluttonous friend Alex. He used to drink a liter of milk and lots of curd daily. A courier brought milk for him early in the morning at 5 a. m.
in a special can. He kept the can on an elevated stand, pressed the door bell and disappeared into the darkness. Monte purchased an identical can. Everyday, he used to keep his can ready with adulterated milk. He replaced this can with the original can. This he did in seconds! There was visible glow on the countenance of Monte, by drinking 30 liters of fresh milk a month, at the cost his dear friend Alex. A year rolled by! The time had now arrived for their annual meeting! One evening they all met at Cool Hiding Park. Now the question was who would initiate the discussion?
Who would give the account of his honest living for the last one year? Then, thus spoke Alex, “Monte is the youngest amongst us. We are all like his elder brothers. In this ‘family’, Monte is the baby of the family. Children are like God! Let us hear his honest thoughts. We shall treat his views like the grace of God. Monte dear, please speak first. ” Monte was overwhelmed to hear the loving words of Alex for the trust he enjoyed with his friends! “Did I cheat my divine friends? ” thought Monte and he could not control himself! Tears gushed down from his eyes.
In an instant, Monte lay prostrate at the feel of Alex. He gave a detailed account of his misdeed, sobbing intermittently, with a solemn promise that he would remain honest at all times and at all costs. Looking at the never- ending torrent of tears, Alex, Rex and Felix, all of them confessed to their crimes and unleashed an uncontrollable crying session! Competition in rhythmic crying! Then Monte owned the difficult responsibility of controlling them! From that day onwards, they lived an honest life. The telephone connection was cut. The meter wire was pulled out. The tunnel was filled with sand.
The milk remained unadulterated! “What is there in the life of crime? If you wish to earn money and become prosperous, do business”, they used to advise their former prison-inmates since released. Yes, Alex, Rex, Monte & Felix are leading an honest life. They are counted amongst the rich businessmen now. They don’t brag about their rags to riches story or discuss money matters with any one at all! For, none of them is paying income tax! Conclusion: The conclusion is simple and straight forward. The inner core of every individual is essentially good, even that of criminals.
“Americans by and large are in favor of “rehabilitative services for [non-violent] prisoners as opposed to a punishment only system,” reports an April 2006 Zogby poll. Americans acknowledge that the penal system, as it exists today, is failing both prisoners and society as it creates more victims every year. ”(Hastings, Dwayne, 2006). Released prisoners must be supported, morally and financially, and provided opportunities to reform.
References: Hastings, Dwayne, Article: Prisoner Reformation, Sep 1, 2006 faithandfamily. com/article/prisoner-reformation/ – 15k – Cached – Retrieved on February 21, 2009