The recent reversal by the Maine Department of Corrections on its policy regarding contact with the media is a victory for the First Amendment. The nation and its justice system were founded upon the basic principles of fairness and equality.

In prison we do not have access to the Internet, Twitter or Facebook, but people kept me informed of how the story about the Contact with the Media Policy made its way across the country. All of a sudden people from as far away as California were supporting the rights of prisoners in Maine.

When you take a stand against prison policy, you cannot help but remember that you are totally in the control of the authorities and you never know how the system is going to react to a challenge. In this case, they did the right thing, but it was good to know that my story was being told and shared, just in case.

Our forefathers fought for our principles and never intended for them to be removed from any person that chose to exercise them. The First Amendment protects the civil liberties of individuals in the United States; and makes clear that the Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

In this day and age, people no matter where they come from, where they are, or where they end up, should not be regulated on what it is they can or cannot say. Pro-active maneuvering which attempts to create positive change should not be the subject of condemnation, but should receive affirmation to encourage productive input.

This policy reversal will enable prisoners to maintain a strong connection with their families, the community and other resources, and a quality of life to bring about healthy goals and habits.

The journey through the correctional system can be devastating for those taking on the daunting task of changing their lives as they make their way through a place of conformity.

Communicating with the outside world is a necessary part of the process to allow for an inmate to feel connected. We need more, not less and we need some reasonable Internet access if we are going to be able to reintegrate into society.

On the flip side, changing human behavior one life at a time, realizing that most people incarcerated are fairly good prospects for rehabilitation, takes a great deal of effort and devotion on part of staff employed in the Maine Department of Corrections.

Huge challenges are par for the course for those responsible for producing productive citizens.

It is important to understand the dynamics that create a specific culture, especially if that culture needs to change. The stereotyping and misconceptions connected to people in prison will not change until people understand how the correctional system operates, because how the system operates will determine how a person sees the world when they are released from the isolated environment they have been locked up in.

When you put someone in prison, you not only take them away from their experience of society, but you take them away from the experience of a living planet of living things.

You cannot put a tiger into a cage and expect it to get better; you only make it more ill. People cannot expect inmates to get better or not get worse; unless and until the incentive is available to help them change direction in their lives.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Mercy bears richer fruit than strict justice.” If during the course of incarceration the results are such that a person is able to leave prison with a positive attitude, healthy emotional state of mind, productive motivation and a sense of self-worth, then the philosophy to provide some direction for those willing to self-improve should be firmly embraced by society as a whole.

After all, the “Department of Corrections” should mean just that. Communicating with the outside world has provided me with the opportunity to contribute in a positive way in the hope that people could better understand the life of a prisoner, the transitional change that takes place, and to realize that the end result must meet the goal of imprisonment – which is to reform people into value-driven, law-abiding citizens.

The crime I committed nearly 30 years ago has consumed my every waking moment with deep remorse and regrets. It has been through my communications with people in the outside world, including my spiritual adviser, that I have been able to forgive myself, to ask for God’s forgiveness and to internally heal.

Communications help to provide a stable support line and keep the prisoner grounded in the abnormal atmosphere we call prison.