Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow.
Congratulations to Bret Peterson and Ginny
Ackerson and their team at the UGA Spring Conference. I have never
seen a conference planning committee nail a keynote speaker like these
people did. Paul McCarty was honestly the best keynote speaker I've ever heard. I couldn't take notes fast enough.
a Psychology professor at BYU. He volunteers at the Family History
Center at the Utah State Prison. I don't know if they have Family
History Centers at other prisons but from what he talked about it sounds
like they should. (I'll have to look into that.) Paul talked about
the amazing rehabilitation that he sees in his work at the prison. I had heard about this program but the stories he told were fantastic.
One of the examples he gave was a young prisoner who had been incarcerated for some serious gang activities. Paul said he was angry all the time. When he started doing family history research, he found out that he was descended from a Spanish prince and from some of the conquistadors. You can imagine what that did to his self image and he reported feeling the presence of his ancestors. Paul said he did a 180% turn in just a few weeks and was quickly involved in leadership and mentoring positions in the center.
Like I've talked about many times here, apparently family history is helping to heal the prisoners' relationships with their mothers, their children and other members of the current families too. No surprise there.
Another prisoner he talked about was in prison for life without parole. He was angry all the time and quite violent with the other prisoners. He actually found out that his great great grandfather had been a security guard for a frontier bank and his great grand uncle had arrested Black Bart. He was so enthralled that he actually ended up writing to some of the people back home and with permission started researching the family history of some of his victims. He sent the information that he had found to these victims families and there was alot of healing and forgiveness that came from it.
He said that indexing and researching family history gave the prisoners a chance to "escape from prison" and do something good in the world. They are able to feel good for a bit and leave that guilt at the door. It has also become a key part of the rehabilitation when these prisoners are released from prison as well. After they are out of prison, they are encouraged to volunteer once a week at the FHC near them and they do much better when they do. Paul said that Family History is the "key to changing an attitude of failure to a person of worth."
That's what it is all about isn't it? Wow wow wow wow wow.