May 27, 2018

Life Saving Consequences

From Death Row Inmate by Michael Flinner (author's profile)


File Under: Papyrus Collective Group


While no single arc covers all of human complexity, not much can be said for living an implacably-hostile existence beyond myriad walls and fences at San Quentin State Prison --- a sentence of death to be carried out by lethal injection might be a wee-bit on the complex side, but it is "my" tug-of-war with morality, one replete with shame and regret the enormity of which, no "just" society could ever ignore.
An ardent Jew of 51 whose broad commitment to both family and tradition remain in tact, I'm plagued with a nagging select few questions:

1.) In a society where mass-incarceration functions as a part of a social control system, one might ask, "What is justice if it isn't the act of making something great come from something altogether terrible?"

2.) How might a broken man like myself find the self-discipline to achieve some meaningful semblance of idealogical, politically-systemic, and palatable reform capable of dispelling the various myths that prisoners are without redeeming value?

Just days prior to my father's untimely passing, he whispered to me, "a man can preach a better sermon with his life than with his lips". There was a moment of profound lucidity wherein thereafter, I realized that absolutely nothing stood between my misfortune and whatever good intentions still loitered from within.
Internalizing the concept of "repay[ing]" my debt to society through restitution, rehabilitation, and punishment for my alleged transgressions came by and through understanding that the word "penitentiary" simply put, meant a place to learn penitence. With that, I dropped an ambitious idea upon a local senator's desk, the result of which gave birth to --- an inducement-free living inmate organ donor initiative, currently dubbed, "The Ultimate Restitution".
While death will always be the incomparable great bipartisan, but for the bravery and human dignity of those who inspire us, the pursuit of national legislation which replaces destruction with life, would be a mere figment of anyone's imagination.
If a once shameless and beyond contemptible man like myself can put something of this magnitude into working order, certain others in lesser shoes might discover their very own humble solution which promotes general public welfare.


Michael Flinner is a Southern California former general contractor, ex-wiseguy (JDL), accomplished author, and unwed legislative advocate for inducement-free living inmate organ donation whose interests include art, literature, history, religion, and writing.

Michael Flinner
CSP-SQSP # V-30064 (NSS-4)
San Quentin, CA. 94964 USA

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Replies (3) Replies feed

FatherJohn Posted 1 year, 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 year, 2 months ago   Favorite
Dear Michael,

Although I find your idea ambitious, stoic, aesthetic, and esoteric, it also renders and disarms me as so much "dust in the wind." What can one man say sitting in his easy chair in a climate-controlled living room that would convey how humbled one feels looking out on another man's self-sacrifice?

I believe the God of Abraham, the Father of faiths (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), showed at AKEDAH, human blood sacrifice could be substituted by the blood of animals (see Genesis 22:12). That being said, many Christians believe the blood of one could be the expiation of all for transgressions against God's covenant given many chances and times, including at AKEDAH (see the Book of Hebrews 9:15). All that being said, as a religious and spiritual man, I am in deep conflict over your proposal.

On the one hand, I am intensely opposed to the death penalty. The sanctity of human life, the value of each and every human person, and the dignity and worth demanded for one and all, demands that every person deserves redemption. If one cannot be redeemed, what right have I for redemption? The blood of the Lamb tells me so (see the Book of Revelation 12:11).

On the other hand, for death to lead to life for another is beyond noble, for what greater love can one man show than to lay down his life for his friend? (See the gospel of John 15:13) Can you see the ethical dilemma you pose for a man such as myself?

In the final analysis, nothing can convince me you are unworthy of life. If the state cannot see this...for your death to have meaning will provide solace to yourself, your family, and the family of that person's family desperately seeking an organ donor. I intentionally left the victim's survivors off this list (see Matthew 5:38). With the caveat that I vehemently oppose your sacrifice as "imposed" by the state, I support your actions to give meaning to (in my mind) state-sanctioned murder.

God grants both life and in God's time, death. May your death Michael not be AKEDAH revisited and revised by man; this is my prayer.

Much respects, Father John

BIO: John Pfister is a Catholic whose interests include art, literature, Bible study, writing, the spoken word, spirituality, and the psychology and ethics of elder care, addiction, dying, incarceration, reentry, and rehabilitation.

Michael Flinner Posted 1 year, 1 month ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

FatherJohn Posted 1 year ago. ✓ Mailed 1 year ago   Favorite
Dear Michael,

I will have a snail mail out to you soon. I spent many days considering what I would write to you.

I myself have an extremely active pen pal ministry, writing by hand up to a thousand pages a year, in my own time, with my own dime. I write to all who desire spirituality in their lives. Some write regularly upon receipt, while others write sporadically. I write 25 institutions in 20 states, and I also write side letters to public officials and judges about specific issues. My postage bill, is not as great as yours, but it is still considerable. Many men must use spirituality to make "sense" of intense suffering. All religions oriented towards the good in humankind, are all useful to spiritual, physical, and emotional healing, We write of addiction counseling, surviving segregation, abandonment, spirituality, litigation, reentry, Scripture study, Church history, the Catechism, and for the long timers and no timers, just my experiential ramblings of the out.

That being said, I would like to help you from time to time. I will send some books here directly. If Anyone reads this would donate books of stamps but do not want to share your address with death row. You could send them to me for forwarding: Rev. John Pfister, 625 Frame Rd., Newburgh, IN 47630 - I would make sure Michael received them.

More soon Michael, John Pfister

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