OCTOBER 15, 2002
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
This is the first in a series of regular updates I plan
on writing in the months to come to friends, colleagues,
supporters, and other interested parties.
no secret as to what I will be doing. As this update is
being posted on the web, I will be in route to the federal
penitentiary in Oakdale, Louisiana. A six-month sentence
awaits me. One hundred and eighty-two days of confinement
in a minimum-security facility.
readers might question why I am so open and public about
what I will be doing in the days ahead. Most of you who
have followed my battle against the federal government know
it is not my style to shy away or stay low key about what
happened to me. I have tried to be open and up front through
this entire five-year ordeal, and I can think of no valid
reason why I should "go underground." I take this
approach for several reasons.
of all, I have no reason to slip away from public view or
to hide what has happened to me in any way. The system let
me down, and I was wronged. I am the first person to ever
be convicted in a federal court in this country that was
charged with false statements, yet not allowed to confront
my accuser or see the handwritten notes of my conversation.
For the rest of my life, I will fight this injustice, and
I will certainly not "hide my head in shame" for
something that was done to me, not by me.
it makes sense to give periodic reports to so many of you
who have followed my career for so many years. When I return
to my home and to my friends in six months, I will not have
to spend lots of time explaining to person after person
"how it was" at Oakdale. You will be reading about
my experiences on a regular basis.
I will not be the first to write from prison
a long shot. I am inspired by the fact that some of the
world's most important literature was drafted and often
written while the author was behind bars.
spent four years in a Siberian prison where he bitterly
"roughed out" some of his most well known works,
including Crime and Punishment, as well as his
grand autobiographical work, The Idiot.
Walter Raleigh wrote The History of the World,
as well as many of his poems while in prison in the Tower
of London in England. Plato transcribed Socrates' last words
in prison, and Saint Paul, we are told, wrote some of the
New Testament, the very word of God, while imprisoned.
now, I am reading Solzhenitsyn's first book, One Day
In the Life of Ivan Denisovich. This book covers a
period in Russian history in the 1950s when he was unjustly
imprisoned. In our lifetime, Martin Luther King wrote his
famous Letter From the Birmingham Jail. If you
want to take it to the extreme, I have even read of Cuban
poet Roberto Marteen Perez who served 28 years in a prison
cell measuring four feet by four feet. He wrote poems to
the love of his life in his own blood.
I hope to share with my friends in the weeks to come is
of minor consequence compared to these important writings.
I just make the point, that far from stifling one's thought
process, prison might even allow someone like me the opportunity
to think about my life in an uncluttered way, and focus
on the simple priorities that make it easier on any of us
to make it through our day.
thing that I will surely do is read a great deal. As I understand
the rules of any federal prison, a prisoner cannot receive
any hardback books through the mail from his home or from
friends. Only paperbacks. By stroke of luck, the LSU Book
Fair was held a few weeks ago. I bought 125 paperbacks.
I took pleasure in picking out older books I read many years
ago that I will now re-read, as well as some titles I always
wanted to read but never got around to.
list includes short stories by Hemingway, as well as Faulkner's
first novel, Soldiers' Pay. I included James Joyce's
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
(his more famous novel, Ulysses, was just too hard
to get through back when I was in college). New Orleans
author Richard Ford was a guest several times on my weekly
television show. His novel Independence Day won
the Pulitzer Prize, but I never got around to reading it.
I will now. Former McNeese State professor Robert Olen Butler
has also been a guest on my television show and he too won
the Pulitzer Prize. I plan on rereading his wonderful group
of short stories on Vietnam, A Good Scent From a Strange
bought a golf book by James Dodson that I plan to read called
Final Rounds. It's a story about a father with
only a few months to live and his final journey with his
son. I just recently took up golf, and I regret not taking
the opportunity to play with my father, an avid golfer,
before he died. My son and I have played together regularly
in the past year.
are just some of the many titles that I picked up and should
have time to read in the coming months. I have made arrangements
for five paperbacks to be sent to me each week throughout
my prison stay.
regular reports will be posted on my website, located at
www.jimbrownla.com. You will find on this site a great deal
of information about my case, going back to the trial itself.
Posted and available are various briefs that have been written
during my appeal, including my request to the U.S. Supreme
Court to stay out on bond. In addition, you will see the
various newspaper articles that have appeared in most of
the daily and weekly papers raising questions about my unfair
conviction. There is a variety of information involving
the Department of Insurance, and my various activities in
public life. You will also be able to use the website to
be added to my e-mail list, or to have your name deleted,
if you so desire.
Dickens begins his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities,
by writing, "It was the best of times, it was the worst
of times." This certainly applies to me. The worst
has happened through this unjust conviction, and the hardship
it has caused on my family. Friends have told me that bad
things often happen to decent people, but there is still
bitterness over the unfair actions that took place in my
case. But I still consider this "the best of times"
because of the reaction my family and I have received from
our community and people throughout our state and our country.
Gladys and I have simply been overwhelmed by the outpouring
of support, understanding and concern from people wherever
we go. We can't go to the movies, eat in a restaurant, or
enter a supermarket without a number of people wishing us
well and expressing their concern over how unfair my treatment
despite the injustice that I have suffered, I am approaching
my stay in Oakdale with a positive attitude. My family and
I have a lot to be thankful for. We have many wonderful
memories of my more than thirty years in public life. I
would like to think that we have touched and improved the
quality of lives of many people here.
don't diminish or take lightly the fact that I will be in
prison for six months. But in the scheme of things, this
is not a long period of time. Baseball season lasts longer
than six months. I'll be home for the tail end of LSU basketball
season, and will be able to see some New Orleans Hornets
games in April and May of next year.
I plan on making the best of it, and returning in six months
in good physical shape, having written extensively, and
ready to get back to being involved with my family and community.
of us in the Brown family send our thanks for all your interest,
your concern, and your prayers. Stay attuned to my website.
You will be hearing from me soon from Oakdale.