It is true that I found trying to understand the legal system frustrating, infuriating, confusing and generally nuts. But the more I have worked in prison ministry* the more I have come to understand that each fiefdom (facility) has its own rules, with large differences or small and they change with frustrating frequency, so my hope of understanding and "mastering" the interface with "the system" was not ever going to happen. Even within a given state rules between facilities can and do vary widely and I have never found an outside force, baring a situation so bad that a facility must be investigated by state or federal officials, that can do much to influence the rules or interpretations of rules by a given institution. And just about the time you think you kind of understand, a new warden or chaplain will arrive to make yet new rules or a legislative body or ruling board will issue new regulations or edicts that have to be interpreted within the facility. I'm not saying they are always worse rules; I'm just saying that correctional facilities are in a near constant state of flux. And if they are reasonably stable, it is likely your loved one will be transferred and you and the inmate will have a learning curve yet again.
So, pretty early on I figured I needed to get and keep my own head on straight if there was any hope of being of any use to my child. In other words, I came to believe that keeping my own spiritual journey on track was vitally important for the well-being of my child. This is not to say that it was easy or well received as I have developed new ways of thinking and living. But as long as I was enthralled to his journey I was far more likely to get in his way than to be of long-term, pragmatic help.
So no matter how painful, I needed to quit the magic thinking that I was able to "fix" anything for another human being. Over the next few days we will consider some of the ineffective assumptions I have been worked on upgrading.
Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.
Philippians 2:4 (CEB)
* I began in prison ministry some years after my son's incarceration was completed.