Thomas Porter

Happy to be Alive? – “Oh to my Differences” – by Thomas Porter – Short Essays by Inmates

Thomas is sending me poems on a regular basis now and we are also putting together a book for him. The book may probably take a while, but it’s exciting to be part of this process.

Today, I have a short essay written by Thomas Porter. Even if it’s not poetry, he still manages to bare it all, be raw with his words, and get us to think – it got me thinking, for sure.

Happy to be Alive? - "Oh to my Differences" - by Thomas Porter - Short Essays by Inmates

Oh To My Differences

How do we describe differences? Disagreeable in an opinion or even distinction, or discrimination in stance, or causing disagreement?

I’ve always thought that differences made our world beautiful, given that through these differences we have amazing Music of Love, Pain, Joy, and even something to lean towards on those days when everyone weighs heavily on our nerves. Differences have given us amazing Art. When we all look upon the created forms we are able to see differently but still understand within ourselves what the artist provoked emotionally,

Yet, I’ve noticed within the very characteristic that distinguishes one from another or from the average, Men in prison find themselves committed to proving themselves to other men for whatever reason of their past lives or their negative behavior. For they insist one will live and kill over principles that I don’t value at all, It’s devastating to me to constantly question my self-worth in that nature of populated Prison.

wrongfully imprisoned

I am partly or totally unlike the nature of this population or mental principal state that is this culture, I believe wholeheartedly the element or factor that separates or distinguishes me is that I am at times struggling with the fact that I’m deserving of the existence that was given to me for actions of creating someone else’s demise,

I’ve been going around in mental circles striving to piece together my thoughts, Knowing only through other people’s compassion that I am worthy of more than what I believe I am,

Yet, everyone I come in contact with in this population is trying to change my perspective with words like you should “just be happy” you didn’t get executed. Is there something soft-hearted about me that makes me wonder if I could ever have a conversation about my anxieties and anxiousness towards this life of relief?

Who would cherish my vulnerability, talking about the very things that chipped away at my soul…

By Thomas Porter


Some background information on Thomas. In 2005, Thomas killed a police officer. It was charged as a coldblooded murder, although Thomas has insisted throughout these past 16 years that he acted in self-defense. He was sentenced to death. He spent 14 years on death row – in absolute isolation – and he watched 24 men walk to their executions … He knew each of them by name …

When I started writing him in February 2021 there were only two men left on Virginia’s death row (he is incarcerated in Virginia), and soon after I contacted him Virginia abolished the death penalty. So, now Thomas’s sentence has been commuted to a life sentence. They recently gave him another one + 28 years, so Thomas has now 2 life sentences and 28 years.

As he said to me, he is still going to die in prison, it’s just a slower death.

prison cell

There are people who have done things that are a lot worse than what he did and they got a lesser sentence and are even released. My heart goes out to the family of the victim, it does, this is a tragedy, but destroying Thomas’s life is not going to bring anyone back. And truth be told, the reason Thomas is made to suffer is not so much because of the crime but because of who the victim was. It was no “ordinary” citizen, it was a police officer. They won’t forget or forgive it …

Should punishments be based on who the victim was? I don’t think so, but living in the world we are, things like equality are naive aspirations.

I hope that you can look past Thomas’s past and crime and see the man he is today. Through his written word you can see who he is. I see no malice or repeat offender in any of his poems or essays. I see a kind man who has paid a harsh price for what he did, a man who has redeemed himself, and now it is up to us to show that we can also ignore our cruelty and give him a second chance at life instead of attempting to destroy it over and over. How does the destruction of a man’s mind make justice justice?

Find here some books by inmates. I’m currently reading A Voice from the Killing Machine by Kenneth Foster.


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  1. Christine,

    The justice system is skewed, and has been for some time. I can honestly say that it has ruined several lives around me, not just my own.
    In Thomas’ case, the people that he is surrounded with will never understand the knowledge that “they will die”. Meaning, everyone on death row has a different view of life. They know that death is looming once that sentence is given. He has been in a different world from them. Most people in prison have simply a “time to serve”. They live day by day, in their ignorance, and yes, many will reoffend when they’re released. And not because they love to, some do, of course. But mainly because as a felon straight out of prison, you simply don’t find a job. In order to get money, survive, many turn back to what landed them in prison in the first place. Selling drugs, working for cartels, robbing or thieving. Whatever they need to do to get by.

    As far as the justice system, there are several examples, in just my personal circle where justice was not served fairly.

    1. A man is dating a girl for some time. The girls sister moves in with them. Boyfriend ends up crushing on the sister. One night, his girlfriend is at work. They’ve had too many drinks, and they wind up having sex. Girlfriend walks in on them and in a fit of rage, calls the police. The sister flees, the man is arrested. Because his alcohol level was considered intoxicated, and the girlfriend says her sister was intoxicated as well, the man is charged with rape. Having sexual interactions while intoxicated is another form of rape according to the justice system. Girlfriend is the initial one to press charges because the police told her she could the night she was in a rage.
    Next day, she comes to her senses and tells the police she wants to drop the charges. She simply wants to walk away from the relationship. Nope, the state swoops in and picks up the charges of rape.

    2 years down the road in jail, the man takes a plea bargain and plea’s guilty to sexual assault in the second degree. Man’s life, for the next 25 years after probation, is labeled as a sex offender on every map in Alaska. In fact, neighbors, friends and even strangers have called him a rapist because of these charges. All because he crushed on a sister and had sexual relations while intoxicated.
    He deserved this?

    2. Man marries woman, whom he claims he’s madly in love with. However, years down the road, woman decided to have sexual relations with another man. Husband catches her, she’s goes mad in her fit of rage.
    Husband, whom also loses it, crashes into her car, which he pays for. Man is arrested for attempted vehicular manslaughter.
    Man fights charges, and eventually wins, after several thousands in attorney fees. Husband leaves wife over this.
    Woman then, days later, calls the state and claims husband was molesting her children and his.
    Man is immediately arrested, now with a prior record. Man sits in jail fighting for over a year, and wins again. Charges dropped with insufficient evidence. However, man was plastered all over news as being a child molester. Business drops, he owned his own business, and reviews were left on Google as him being a child rapist. Man leaves state to try to build business outside of Alaska.

    Ex-wife, 1 year later, states that she has new evidence of child rape to her daughter. That she saw her daughter give man oral pleasure in front of her. Man was arrested in another state, shipped back up. Charges are pending.

    Man sits in jail now for 2 years fighting same charges, twice brought up against him now, and once again labeled as child molester and rapist.

    But no charges are against the woman for “Watching her daughter, at 3 years old, giving the man oral pleasure”? Yes, the justice system is skewed.

    3. Drunk driver was driving on road late at night. 2 bicyclists, ages 15 and 16 are riding bikes. Driver goes off the road, hits them, and kills them. Flees the scene of the crime and drives home instead.

    Kids were found that night, already dead on scene. Case pends for some time, until vehicle is found with blood and hair samples from kids. Man is arrested and charged.
    Charged with double vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, as well as fleeing scene of crime. Several charges.
    Sentenced to two years in prison.

    It shows that the severity of the case has nothing to do with how justice is served. How was a man who had sex while drunk, sentenced to the same as the man who killed children on bikes while drunk?

    Or how about the ex wife who in a fit of rage, wants revenge on her ex husband not charged with sexual assault for supposedly watching the nightmare? How is this man fighting, once again, the same ex wife who attempted this years ago?

    It saddens me, that this is what the people call justice. And, to hear the horror from people’s mouths when they call someone a monster because of his “sex offender registration”, whom they also call a friend the next day?

    There is no such thing as justice in the US. Even if the sheep want to follow the herd and claim that they were served justice.

    Basically, they’re claiming that we can kill kids with our vehicles, but how dare we have sex while drunk.

    Sorry this is long. I felt it worth sharing.


    1. Oh my God, these stories absolutely have to be shared. The man who killed those teens got 2 years? That is such a joke! And others get life sentences for much less than that! Unbelievable! Thank you for sharing this.
      The ex-wife who ruined her husband’s business on false charges should face consequences for what she did. It makes you realize that you have to be so very careful who you let into your life, doesn’t it?
      The justice system is so messed up, so messed up!

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