Larry Bumgardner: Too-common view

February 3, 2014 

Recent letters condemning Michael Vick as a choice of speaker for a Raleigh Chamber of Commerce event don’t surprise me. Those letters reflect a too-common view of people who have been incarcerated: “We want to have nothing to do with you ... go away.” What he did will be forever brought up and stuck in his face.

I am a volunteer in N.C. prisons. I’ve been doing this for over 15 years. I continue to be shocked at people’s reaction when they find out that I actually take inmates who are near release on a pass to my home. The look of unmitigated horror never ceases to shock me. Readers may have difficulty believing this, but truly some of the finest men I’ve met in my life were inmates. It runs counter to public perception.

How one of the most Christian nations on earth can incarcerate at the level we do for crimes that many of our lawmakers have committed themselves is simply beyond my ability to understand. We have turned the gospel on its head. When inmates get out, like Vick is finding, the discrimination really begins.

Larry Bumgardner, Durham

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