Its been over a month since the passing of Corrections Officer Steve Schrum. In that time, the inmate population has done a fair amount of grieving and even hosted a memorial service inside the prison honoring this man. Officer Schrum’s family attended and some wonderful stories and experiences were shared. To the free world, this would be expected. But this is prison. Normal social behavior sometimes gets lost in the madness. The ability of an inmate population to celebrate a corrections officer’s life so completely is unprecedented.

This acceptance is only made possible because of Officer Schrum’s ability to build a quiet legacy. A legacy built on subtle humanity and the ability to see far beyond law, crime, brutal backgrounds and broken souls. Steve saw us for who we are. People. And its these people who carry this legacy. In the last month, I’ve heard of other, older staff reference this to newer, greener ones. “That’s what it looks like if you treat them fairly and with dignity.” This is a two way street and a lesson to all involved. Be good to your fellow man and your legacy builds very quietly. A legacy of humanity.

There are many people in this prison who don’t have the pleasure of building their legacy in front of the ones they love. Nobody here is making millions and having hospitals named for their donations. Nobody here has a shop full of miscellaneous trinkets to invent the next great tech device with. Nobody here is shaping the minds of tomorrow’s youth through education and creating charitable trusts devoted to enlightenment.

But we do make quiet legacies. We make them the way Steve Schrum did. We find the ways to positively influence the community around us and we reestablish forgotten values through determined rehabilitation. We give our children a brighter future by making the wrongs right. We help our communities heal by learning to be simply better than we were on the first day of incarceration. Our families never see our day to day accomplishments, much like Steve’s family didn’t see his everyday work. But with every changed inmate come another brick in the building of a quiet legacy for all of us…

by Rory Andes

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