Reflections from time in Wright County Jail include inmate’s apology
To the editor:
What you are about to read is an apology from me, Erik Carlson, a lifelong resident of Wright County.
This is not a plea for sympathy or a list of excuses attempting to justify my wrongs. This is me, Erik Carlson, sober minded saying I’m sorry.
For many years I took the hatred for myself out on society. Committing crimes to fuel my addiction and running and hiding from police most times like a crazed lunatic with a careless disregard for my fellow man and society at large.
I was one who embraced life on the other side of the tracks as “the only way,” and if you weren’t with me, you were against me. So day after day, night after night, in a constant self-inflicted, drug induced stupor, I plotted every way possible I could maintain my drug high in an attempt to blot out the Erik Carlson I grew to hate.
I did not grow up like most. I spent my life cycling in and out of foster homes, boy’s homes, detention centers, treatment centers, jails and prisons. But as I look back I can see a lot of it was my bad choices.
Although my upbringing was not the best, me choosing the path I did is what made my life hard on me. Every day I wish I could rewind, but knowing I can’t, I put my feet to the floor trying to embrace change.
I am an individual who is trying to change, and the past five years has been a frustrating pursuit of change. But at the end of each day, even in my failures, I am getting better. Within me seems to be a war of good and evil. At times I feel as if the good me is standing on a bucket reaching for the stars while the bad me is pacing circles waiting for the right time to kick the bucket out from under me.
I am trying to change by the ways the bible teaches, but that is a process, also. I wish I could click my heals like Dorothy and be back to normal, but I can’t and even if I could I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t even know what normal is or looks like. But every day that I pursue change I do find peace and some semblance of normal.
I know what I have done in life is wrong, and for many years I did not care, but in recent years even though I have failed, I have gotten better.
Each time I have walked out the doors of Wright County Jail I have stepped on more solid ground. My struggle seems to be that at 32 years old, I am learning how to “re-learn” life.
I’m learning how to function in society as a “normal” human being, and I am learning these things through programs offered here at the county jail and through court.
During the past years, I have seen and experienced Wright County Jail and the courts more and more seek to help offenders change their lives by different types of programming – some free, some at a cost, but more cheaper than prison.
If it weren’t for the taxpayers that funded construction of this new jail, I would not have found the good person in me.
I am not a person who wastes time when on the right track, and Wright County Jail offers programs to individuals that can be life changing if we have the desire to change.
Programs that are taught by volunteers who know that changing the heart and life of a convict benefits so many people –children get their parents back, parents get their children back.
Here, addiction finds an adversary and that adversary is ourselves with a sober mind.
Please don’t misunderstand me in what I have just said, where justice is to be served, Wright County does service its justice, but in my opinion and from my experience, Wright County tries to look through the smoke of the fire to the reconstruction of something new.
If you know me and are reading and wondering if I am the same Erik Carlson or a changed Erik Carlson, I will say yes to both, but like a good book I am being revised and republished year after year with better chapters and the beginning of a different story line.
This letter is meant for friends, family, victims and taxpayers, but most importantly it’s meant to give a story of hope, a story that each and every person in Wright County has knowingly and unknowingly helped write.
The Bible teaches in Ephesians, Chapter 2, “That is by grace we have been saved through faith, it is not in or of ourselves, but the gift from God.”
It may seem to some that in my failures I haven’t taken advantage of grace, but it is actually in my failures and in humbling myself that I have experienced the purest form of grace.
For everybody reading this, I am thankful, but most importantly from the deepest depths of my heart and from the core of who I am, I am sorry for all my wrongs.
Someday I pray you hear my name in the context of good and remember this letter and find peace in the idea of a debt to society being paid.
Editor’s Note: Erik Carlson recently submitted this letter to the Monticello Times to provide additional details about how his time served as a Wright County inmate changed his life.