Over the course of the next several weeks we will be posting impact letters from William’s friends and family as they reflect on how William’s incarceration has affected them. This post begins that series with a letter from William:
I am William Edward Arnold, Jr.; TN Department of corrections “Inmate #524840.” In case you are wondering and as far as I know, there have been five hundred twenty four thousand eight hundred and thirty nine people assigned an inmate number before me. I can’t say what they looked like, where they are from or what crimes they were convicted of. I can only tell you about me and how I came to become #524840.
I guess this journey started about seven years ago……..make that eight. While doing legislative work for a state agency I saw one of my fraternity brothers at the state capital. He was the Executive Director of an organization that needed mentors for kids with at least one incarcerated parent. At the time I was married, served on a couple of boards and was active in a few organizations along with mentoring about four other pre-teens and teens. I felt obligated to get involved as a one hour per week mentor due to a desire to help out and because of a connection that one of my organizations had with the mentoring organization. And what a BIG mistake that was……..
In the time that I’ve been in prison I have met a myriad of people. Some of the most talented people I have ever met are right here behind bars. There are also some truly big heart-ed people here who just made some bad mistakes. There are also some true pieces of work here as well. With so many different types of people in such an environment as prison, it makes trust a really hard thing. I often view myself as a Lakers fan at a Celtics’ fan convention. What does that mean? Well, that we like basketball the same, but we aint got much else in common. Can you imagine what that’s like 24 hours a day…….trying NOT to fit in without standing out. This has been my life for almost 2 years now.
I can’t do anything in this case but tell the truth and also tell how lies and individuals in the legal system have conspired to ruin my life. It will not be pretty and it will not be clean, hell……I don’t even know what direction it may go, but know this……..it is the TRUTH.
William Edward Arnold, Jr.