Letter from Terri Harper in July of 2014
Please tell us something about yourself. Feel free to include whatever you feel comfortable or interested in sharing.
I am 45 and counting, but I’m not aging in a negative way, despite having had major back surgery, and carpal tunnel surgeries. Amidst all this ugly, I envision light and beauty every day through faith, the valuable friendships I’ve built and with the love of those I call my family (blood related and not). I absolutely love to read and write, and yet I find the most peace in total silence, which is a rarity. Oftentimes, I feel I’m on an island all by myself, because I seem to see things so very differently than most of the people I come in contact with, and then I chide myself for my momentary disassociation with all that makes this world go around (differences). My main goal is to make a difference, so I need to fully embrace different people and their ways. I want to be known as one who overcame her poor choices and weaknesses of character and became the human being worthy of another opportunity at happiness, fulfillment, and a positive legacy. For today, I want to be seen in 2014, not 1991.
Letter from Terri Harper on August 8, 2014
When you write about the current “justice” system, you mention several ways in which the amount of money and privilege a person has determines how the system treats them and who ends up getting sent to prison. What do you think has caused the conditions of mass imprisonment, why has the broader public allowed it to happen, and who has benefited from it?
In part the conditions of mass imprisonment, I believe, have been caused by the great lack of education, via budget cuts and defocus on its importance for future success in this life; on the unavailability of jobs with wages commensurate to today’s cost of living and taking care of a family unit, to loss of solid family structures with positive male models for children and young people to follow; mass media/entertainment/social media being the go-to for everyone and everything, so people aren’t doing enough research or truth-seeking in matters of utmost importance, and the easy road is the one most traveled, which is the downfall of so many. I think the broader public has allowed it to happen either by feeling they no longer can win against the greater numbers of people unwilling to change and grow, or they feel they don’t have the knowledge to make the difference, or they’ve been defeated before and are afraid of being defeated again, so they just don’t try. The rich, and the legislators who have the mindset that people can’t change, benefit from mass imprisonment. The closed-minded people who choose to live in fear and feed into media propaganda also benefit, because a good number then invest in companies that supply prisons.
Letter from Terri Harper in October of 2014
What questions would you ask the other people serving life sentences who are participating in this project? Are there specific things you would most like to hear them respond to?
If I were going to ask other people serving life sentences who are participating in this project questions, I would first ask, “who are you doing this for?” After that I’d ask 2) who do you feel you most disappointed, 3) who do you think is best served by your realizations/growth/development? 4) How do you stay engaged in real life matters, without wishing too intensely for something you may never have? 5) why are projects like Lifelines important? 6) who or what are you living for/what’s your purpose? And lastly I’d want to know what’s next for you?