I’m in prison because I’ve taken something dear from somebody, which I will never be able to repay. I’ve stolen something I simply can’t return. A life. This is a topic I’ve thought about for years. I remember when it first happened, I was smug in the courtroom. In front of the guy’s family, I had the look of a man without remorse. The truth is, I have become somebody who hates the man I was. In the beginning, I told myself that “he deserved it”. I inserted artificial parts into the story so that I could live with myself, and maybe even gain acceptance. Really, whether or not the guy was good or bad, or whether he deserved it or not, it was simply not my call. I’m not sure it’s any one’s call. The fact of the matter is that he had a bunch of people who loved him. All of them decent folk. To some, I’ve taken a brother. A son. …a dad. Like I said, I’ve thought on this for years. This is part of my debt. …One I’ll never repay. And in these thoughts, I’ve explored what it would look like.. what it would feel like to have to tell my friends that I never met my dad because he was dead, or that I HAD a son, but he died before I did. .. brother.. etcetera. It hurts to put myself in those thoughts, but those thoughts are ones I put others in, and so I must.

I think often.. If somebody killed a family member of mine, would I want them to sit in prison to live the rest of their life being a pitiful scourge on the world, or would I want them to sit in prison and change the way they were.. REALLY change their lives around? My answer is that I would want them to reflect on their mistakes and fix that part of themselves. Do something excellent. So that if they were ever released, society would have a place for whom they have become.
In my thoughts, I wish I could tell the people I hurt that I have done this. And that I’m not done.. It’ s an infinite debt. And if I had the chance, I would begin by telling them that I am not the guy who was arrested for murder. I’m sorry. Although I can’t begin to ever repay any of you, I have spent my time becoming the man I should have been. I’ve stolen something permanent, and I can think of no other way to put even the smallest dent in my infinite debt than to give back something permanent. To achieve this, I have committed my life to the study of mathematics. I have become proactive by helping people move away from the convict lifestyle.. so that they might not be the person I was. I’ve started programs. Held mathematics events for the general population.. I have detached myself so far from prison culture and the culture of a user, and instead, immersed myself in thousands and thousands of hours of advanced mathematics. So many that I have been invited into a research group in Italy. My first joint research project is being published currently, with an amazing group of mathematicians. They are my people. I made new mathematics from behind prison walls. And although the mathematical community knows my checkered past, they have been gracious enough to let me show them whom I have become.

From behind the walls of my past, I have learned to become a contributing member of society to the extent that I will have a career mapped when I release, and the man who entered is not the man who will walk out of those doors. I can’t say enough that I’m sorry, but even at all, it feels cheap. However, I am, truly sorry. I’m not sure how else I can work towards justice for you. But I have no excuses, only regret. ..and debt.

Christopher Havens



















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