Friday, March 14, 2014


63 year old Artie Fox was everybody's favorite guy.

A CEO for over 20 years, Artie's company outperformed all of its competition over that time because employees wanted to work for Artie and were inspired by him to do their best, for Artie always took a sincere interest in each person and did all he could to help one after the next to get ahead.

And then one fateful day:

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused top management of defrauding the company's shareholders of many millions of dollars. "I don't know anything about this massive fraud," Artie proclaimed but to deaf ears.

People who reported to him acknowledged their wrong-doing and in plea bargains for light sentences to be served in minimum security prisons, claimed he was the mastermind behind their fraud.

But while most people who knew Artie doubted such claims, knowing him to be an honest man, the SEC prosecuted him. Based upon the testimony of those who had taken the money and the plea bargains, Artie was convicted.

"I'm going to make an example of you," the judge said sternly, his voice echoing loudly in the court room. "You will serve 8 years in prison, and not in a minimum security prison.

"You will serve your time in Folsom Prison, one of California's maximum security prisons."

"But I'm innocent," Artie pleaded, as the handcuffs were clicked onto his wrists and he was taken away by heavily armed police officers, as his wife and two daughters cried aloud.

When Artie arrived at Folsom, and saw all the concrete walls, the iron bars, the guards wearing protective vests, and he heard the heavy doors slam behind him, he knew he was in another world, one filled with a sense of forlorn hopelessness.

In this world, men who had committed serious crimes were locked up together in tiny cells, with all of their activities closely watched, even their bodily functions done using toilets in their cells.

Visitation rights were tightly restricted and it was a privilege to shower, to exercise, to receive mail or to walk in an open yard under the heavens above. Yet even with all of this security, death or serious injury could strike at any moment, if an inmate had a score to settle.

But as the days passed and Artie got to know many of the guards and prisoners in his cellblock, he realized that just as in the outside world, people had many of the same needs behind bars including a deep desire for appreciation and respect.

As an ex-corporate leader, Artie began to apply his skills and soon he earned widespread support as he encouraged inmates to discuss their issues rather than striking out, as he helped mediate some of their disputes, and to use this time to further their educations, something many of them lacked.

Some inmates learned to read and write, while many inmates began earning high school equivalency diplomas and even began taking online or correspondence college classes, working to attain college degrees.

The dark and foreboding hopelessness that had pervaded the cellblock when Artie arrived, had lifted as the men began to realize they could help themselves to a far better future.

Even those men Artie couldn't reach treated him with respect, as he encouraged and tutored all those who had an interest in bettering themselves.

Everything went so well, Folsom Prison released Artie after he served just half his sentence. But even after he was freed, Artie returned regularly to Folsom to counsel and tutor prisoners, as he and his family relocated nearby.

"Even though I never committed the crime of which I was convicted, I found my real calling," Artie later remarked. "I could help to uplift the spirits of thousands of inmates and their families. For me, Folsom became a blessing, and I forgave all those who were responsible for taking me from my family and sending me there."


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