Parting Words

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Jacki Lyden leaves listeners with parting words for the week.

JACKI LYDEN, host:

Our parting words tonight come from that inmate I mentioned at the beginning of our show, Randy Gometz, the man who's done 29 years in solitary confinement in federal prisons and whom I've known for 25 of those years.

Mr. Gometz is serving a life sentence for being an accomplice to the murder of a prison guard. Once, he was considered to be one of the most violent and troublesome of offenders, but slowly and surely, that changed.

He wrote letters of remorse. In 13 and a half years, he hasn't had a single citation for problems with guards. He even became a rat, someone who'd testified against former gang members, but that didn't change his status in prison, even though he'd been promised a transfer by the authorities.

He's become an ordained Eastern Orthodox monk, a passionate student of philosophy. He's also a very good writer, which is one of the reasons I continue our correspondence. So here, in his own words, are how he feels about his incarceration.

(Reading) Somewhere in the morass, I've lost my sense of humor. I'm just tired, beaten, despairing. It's the rock quarry's trifecta. The win is the promise of an end. The mind simply closes down. Enough is enough. No more reports, inquiries, studies, research, evaluations, analyses, surveys, documents or interviews.

But here I am, yammering on about authenticity and originality as if I have something useful to say on the subject. Maybe the real goal of life is to expand a canvas of the human condition and not separate ourselves from it.

And he jokes: If I can shock us out of our apathy, maybe I'm the proverbial inspiration.

Parting Words from Randy Gometz, an inmate who's been in isolation for nearly three decades.

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