Hi, my name is Michael Ketcham. I am 40 years old and currently incarcerated in the Michigan Department of corrections. I was sentenced to 28-60 years in Dec of 2009 and my release date is in 2037. I don’t think that my story is much different from so many other’s in this environment. I was born to a young single mother who had no true idea what it would take to raise a child. Her parents had no way of teaching her because they didn’t really know how to raise any of their kids. This cycle is prevalent in our society where the ‘village no longer helps raise the children’. Although she did her absolute best all I have ever truly known is dysfunction to one degree or another.
I’ve never really known my father and when my mother died in 1993 I was 15 years old and lost the only person I ever loved and trusted. My life went downhill pretty quick and I am still dealing with the lifelong consequences that come from a momentary decision. Within the year I was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison. I grew up incarcerated in a system that has never made a concerted effort to rehabilitate. In a system that saw no difference between a 16 year old child and a 45 year old predator who’d been in prison for 20 years. We were housed together and treated the same. During the most critical developmental years of my life I was raised around men that society had thrown away. I learned at a very young age that I had two options, fight or become a victim and that definitely affected me both emotionally and mentally. I will never make excuses for my actions and behaviors, I have always been considered an intelligent person (I received my GED when I was 14) and knew the difference between right and wrong. We can only be who we have been taught to be. As children we see and hear and therefore learn from those around us and if what we are surrounded by is not conducive to succes, then what can be done? The only chance that existed for me was the compassion and kindness of certain people in my life, Christian’s who saw some worth in me, or the man they knew I’d become, they loved me unconditionally and allowed me a glimpse at a different lifestyle.
As you grow older and develope you find your own identity and establish your own beliefs and understandings. It has taken me almost 35 years to find those things in myself, to understand what a MAN is, to comprehend what being a beneficial part of our society entails, to realize that we ultimately get back whatever we give in life, to take responsibility for who you are and what you do, to be honest and protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Now that I have learned these principals and as I keep working to improve myself and those around me, I refuse to allow my past decisions to define who I am going to be in the future. All I want to do with my life is exalt God, give back all that I’ve taken and be the best man and friend I can be.
These things are not simple, especially now in this me first, instant gratification world of ours. It is extremely hard to love the people around us all the time. It is not easy to give when everyone in life seems to want nothing more than to take from eachother. It is not difficult to get distracted by the chaos of the world and forget God or the important people in our lives. I think for most of us, giving up when things get tough often seems so much simpler than striving for something better. But I am a firm believer that nothing of value is easy, the things we work the hardest for always have the most meaning. If we want to be better human beings it will take sacrifice instead of selfishness and love instead of hate, it will take compassion and unity and the belief that this thing we call life is bigger than ourselves. The journey to a world where we all take care of eachother, where children are not thrown away, where women feel safe and valued, a world where racism and sexism does not exist, a journey to that place will be a long and arduous one, but I am positive that once we get there the views will be stunning. There’s only one way to that world, TOGETHER!
Michael L. Ketcham#241552
snail mail: Alger Correctional Facility
N6141 Industrial Park Drive
Munising, Michigan. 49862.
email contact. WWW.jpay.com
please include return address inside of any written letters.
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