According to the Hechinger Report, an online journal covering education and inequality matters, when Bradley Arrowood was in jail and given a textbook, he laughed because education was the last thing on his mind. When he was a child, Arrowood was told he’d never amount to anything. He grew up in California, dropped out of school when he was sixteen, and supported himself with illegal activities until he was twenty-three years old. At that time, he killed a man he suspected of sleeping with his wife. Arrowood was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1995, and he admitted that he “deserved every bit of my sentence.”
Yet he did take the book that day and joined the prison’s book study group, in which members purchased college textbooks and taught themselves various subjects. He worked toward his Bachelor of Graphic Design Degree and a paralegal certificate, and then earned two associate degrees via correspondence courses from Coastline Community College. Eventually Arrowood received a commutation of his sentence because he “turned away from violence and drugs, and instead dedicated himself to rehabilitation and education.”
Last October, twenty-three years after he received a life sentence, Arrowood was released. Now, at age forty-nine, he spends his days on the outside rekindling a connection with his twenty-five-year-old daughter, Lena, and finding joy even in Los Angeles traffic jams. On his 127th day of freedom, he was sitting among the palm trees on the campus of California State University in Los Angeles, just twenty-four credits away from earning a bachelor’s degree. Arrowood said, “Had I not gone in for this offense, I was either going to end up dead or kill someone else.” Instead, he may be the first in his family to finish college. Released from prison by President Obama, he is now on the dean’s list. Obama wrote to him, “I am so proud of you.”
Unfortunately, like Arrowood, too many children are not nurtured properly and receive negative messages from their parents and caregivers. Healthy bonding with an adult is essential if a child is to mature into a loving and responsible adult. This requires education both for the parents and children. We can thank Bradley Arrowood for ultimately choosing a different path. Dear reader, what messages did you receive as a child, and in what ways did you experience nurturing or lack thereof? How do you think this influenced who you are today? All comments are most welcome.