The application of spirituality in prison is particularly difficult for sexual offenders. This article describes how spirituality in prison can heal rage and anger and despair. Prison is particularly difficult for men with X’s in their box. Sexual offenders are called that, because every inmate’s status sheet has a line which states “sexual offender”. Those who have committed sexual crimes have that box checked with an X.
Forty-nine year old, Timothy Pabst, an innocent man, faced a heart-breaking decision. He had already spent three years in prison for crimes he did not commit. Not just any crimes, but the most heinous of crimes, possession and distribution of child pornography. Now, well before a hearing at which he would present evidence of his innocence, he was offered a deal. He could plead guilty to one felony count of possession of child pornography, and he would be released that day to pick up the fractured pieces of his life, and spend the rest of his days on a sexual abuse registry. Or he could proceed with the evidentiary hearing, and then wait in prison for up to eighteen more months for this evidentiary hearing.
Prison is very tough for men with X’s in their box. Sexual offenders are called that, because every inmate’s status sheet has a line which states “sexual offender”. Those who have committed sexual crimes have that box checked with an X. Three years in prison had extracted a terrible toll on Pabst. A former standout high school athlete, he had gained 50 pounds. His black hair was long, greasy and unkept. His face turned puffy and pasty over the years, distorted by a perpetual scowl. He spent his first two years in a protective custody tier, where inmates are only permitted outside one hour a day.
When Tim asked Dr. Melvin Morse what he would do if he was him, Dr. Morse could not imagine any other response than taking immediate freedom even if it meant pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit.
Tim is one of Dr. Morse’s very best friends in prison. Dr. Morse met him when he was first incarcerated. Because of the notoriety of Dr. Morse’s case, he was initially placed on the same tier that Tim was housed. It is a huge stainless steel and concrete room with a loft housing 70 men who sleep on metal bunk beds arranged in rows. They only left the room for one hour a day to exercise in the gym or in the yard. The communal showers and toilets are open to the view of everyone in the tier. They took showers wearing boxer shorts to preserve some sense of dignity and modesty. Next to the metal bunks are stainless steel tables where they ate meals, played cards and talked. There was a constant background noise of men screaming, arguing, fighting, and swearing that only ended well past midnight.
Meditation in Prison
It was in this environment that Tim and Dr. Morse practiced spirituality in prison. The two meditated together, studied spiritual texts together and practiced advanced meditative technique called Spiritual Sight. This practice was first described by Siddhadda Gotama, the Buddha, over two thousand years ago. Tim and Dr. Morse would wake up early in the morning, while all the other men were asleep. They had what Tim would call, “mornings with Melvin” in which they would meditate and practice spirituality together.
Remote Viewing Technique
Dr. Morse taught Tim spiritual sight. This practice involves entering into what Buddhists call “ultimate reality” and physicists call “non-local consciousness”. The goal is to return with specific verifiable information about a remote location somewhere far beyond the prison walls. The viewer initially has no idea of the identity of the remote location, as it is designated only by a number. They typically used targets sent to them by Dr. Morse’s fellow researcher, Isabelle Chauffeton Saavedra. Neither Tim nor Dr. Morse would know the identity of the remote site until they were done with a session. Tim became so expert at meditation and spiritual sight that he helped Dr. Morse to write a manual on it. The manual was published while Dr. Morse was still in prison (see Spiritual Sight ,the Manual).
Dr. Morse says that he will never forget the first session he did with Tim. The two meditated for about 20 minutes. They then began the advanced meditative protocol of Spiritual Sight. Tim perfectly described a baseball diamond and then even said, “I keep thinking of a baseball field”. After they were done, they opened the envelope and looked at the target that Isabelle sent them. It was a baseball stadium. Tim gazed at it for a few seconds, then suddenly jumped out of his chair and leapt backwards several feet. He simply could not believe that he had mentally traveled to that place. Successful spiritual sight sessions involve a profound sense of awe and wonder which Tim dramatically demonstrated.
As Tim wrestled with his decision to accept a plea and end his nightmare of being imprisoned for crimes he did not commit, he paid Dr. Morse the highest compliment. He told him that his work with him in both meditation and Spiritual Sight preserved his sanity while he was in prison. The practice of spirituality in prison validated for him the insights and wisdom that he achieved with his daily meditation routine. He accessed a realm of total knowledge, wisdom and unconditional compassion, which nurtured him while he was in prison. “Spiritual Sight kept me out of the rubber room,” he told Dr. Morse.
Melvin Morse spent eight months with Tim on the protective custody tier. Tim convinced Dr. Morse of the innocence of committing that crime. He was working on his Motion for Post Conviction Relief during that time. Dr. Morse then spent a year in the Key Program, a treatment regimen for criminal thinking and drug and alcohol abuse. After that, Dr. Morse was housed in Minimum Facility, where he met up again with Tim.
He was shocked to learn that he had stopped meditating and had fallen into lethargy and despair. He spent most of his days watching TV.
Spirituality in Prison
Dr. Morse immediately sat him down and told him that they had to have a spiritual sight session. Every time he saw Tim, he nagged him and cajoled him into sitting meditating with him. Finally one day they sat in the tier hallway, with other inmates walking up and down the corridor, and they had a session; they resumed their spirituality in prison.. The hallway was noisy; inmates constantly interrupted them. Tim told Melvin several times that he had lost his ability to communicate with that inner source of wisdom and knowledge that lives deep within us.
Dr. Morse completely understood how Tim felt. At times of great suffering, our fears and emotions can cloud our ability to communicate with the universe. Yet suffering can also serve to elevate our spirituality.
In order to understand Tim’s sessions, we must explain that with spiritual sight, we access a realm of consciousness that transcends ordinary reality. It is a non-verbal state of consciousness. As a result, a meditator who mentally travels to a remote location can only describe the location in terms of sensory experience, but he can’t give it a name. Tim’s first session where he actually named the baseball stadium was unusual.
After twenty minutes of meditation, Tim entered into that state of consciousness known as Ultimate Reality, where all knowledge exists, yet time and space do not. He told Dr. Morse that he saw a man-made structure that was hard smooth, cool, curved and made of made of steel. It was sitting on the ground, spraying a jet of mist from the bottom of it. The mist was red, yellow, light blue, green, brown, and seemed like misty water. He also saw flames and smoke. Inside the man-made structure, he was enclosed. He could hear voices from both inside the structure and from the outside. He felt safe and comfortable.
They opened the envelope that Isabelle had mailed them. Tim had done a perfect job of describing the hidden picture. It was a rocket taking off from Cape Kennedy.
Tim’s successful spiritual sight session reminded both of them that they are not isolated and alone, but that they are connected spiritually to all of reality. No matter how dire the circumstances, there is a reason for what they are going through, and there are lessons to be learned. In order to obtain the knowledge that Isabelle selected for them, they have to enter into a universal source of knowledge, which is imbued with unconditional compassion and wisdom. Such a session validates their deepest intuitions.
Tim immediately returned to his daily meditation routine. He came to Dr. Morse’s room and borrowed several of his meditation and spiritual texts to read. Several weeks later he was contacted by the Court and told that his evidentiary hearing was scheduled. There is a reason behind every action and we believe that Dr. Morse was meant to be transferred to the minimum housing tier just at the right time, so Tim could be in the right state of mind to make a good decision about the plea deal he was offered.
When Dr. Morse first met Tim, he knew at once he was innocent. Contrary to media impressions, most inmates do not falsely proclaim their innocence. Instead there are far more innocent men in prison than could ever be imagined. After all, “he pled guilty and the evidence against him is solid. I don’t see how I can help him.” a lawyer said.
It was Tim’s own determination and belief in himself that led to his uncovering the evidence that proved his innocence. Those who have been transformed by the near death experience tell us that all that happens to us has a meaningful reason. Perhaps one reason Dr. Morse was incarcerated was to meet Tim and be a part of his spiritual journey. If so, all Dr. Morse has suffered and endured has been worthwhile.
Tim describes himself as having little spirituality and no coping skills before his incarceration. He grew up in a dysfunctional family and he was the victim of childhood trauma. At age 9, he saw his older brother overdose on alcohol and called 911. At age 15, he saw the same brother stab himself in the chest, and again he was the one to call 911. His brother later died of alcohol abuse. Tim has been haunted with undeserved guilt ever since.
Tim graduated from a prestigious private high school, where he was a football and baseball star. He then did one year at the University of Delaware. He started working in a warehouse driving a truck, rising to a managerial position. He also drank a lot of alcohol, and did every drug except for heroin. He occasionally attended AA, and even briefly attempted meditation before discarding it.
He spent his thirty something years getting sober. He then married. He and his wife had a baby girl. After five years, they divorced, but his ex-wife was still his best friend. He frequently visited the house to see his daughter.
One Saturday, when his daughter was seven, he stopped by and spent the afternoon with her. They played computer games on the family computer, located in the living room. He hugged his daughter and kissed his ex-wife and went home.
The next day his ex-wife was horrified to find their daughter looking at a naked man on the computer. She had typed “nekid men” into the Goggle search box. Her mother started screaming. “Did your dad show you that?” The girl stuttered and mumbled and said, “Yes”. Tim’s life would never be the same again.
Tim was immediately arrested. His home was searched and his computers seized. The forensic report came back showing over fifty images of child pornography on his computer.
Tim protested his innocence to no avail. His close friends abandoned him, saying, “He seemed like such a nice guy, but I guess you never know about someone’s dark side.” It soon became clear that in fact he had nothing to do with his daughter looking at a naked man on the internet. A search of his ex-wife’s computer showed no pornography other than the pictures accessed by the young girl on Sunday, the day after Tim was in their home. However, the images said to be found in Tim’s computer were enough to put him away for a long, long time.
So why did Tim plead guilty to dealing in child pornography, especially if he was innocent? First, it must be understood that he was housed in the Pretrial Building at Sussex Correctional Institution, while awaiting trial. Bail was set at $700,000. In pre-trial detention, the men are housed in eight by twelve foot cells, shared with one or two cellmates. They are only permitted to be out of the cell two hours a day which includes meals. Tim was completely alone without any support system. Both his parents were deceased, his brother had died, his ex-wife understandably initially would have nothing to do with him. His friends abandoned him.
If Tim went to trial, he was facing a minimum of 50 years in prison and a maximum of 750 years. Either way, a life sentence. Finally, he broke, and accepted a deal for six years in prison and a lifetime in the sexual offense registry.
Tim discovered that when you lose everything, your ego is destroyed. Your heart then has an opportunity to open to the Divine Source that is in each one of us. It can be a time of anger and bitterness, or it can be a time of unconditional compassion. He taught Dr. Morse this same lesson.
When Dr. Morse first met Tim, he had just started his prison sentence. He was suffering the aftershocks of losing his prestige as a physician and the loss of everything important to him. Tim and Melvin nurtured each other spiritually, learning to use meditation to replace anger with patience, and bitterness with empathy for others.
It took Tim many months to get over the shock of what happened to him and to start fighting for his exoneration. He filed a motion, called Rule 61, in which he stated that he pled guilty because of ineffective counsel provided by his public defender. Again and again he had told his court appointed attorney that he was innocent. Again and again, he was instructed to take a plea. Of course, he only met with his attorney every few months for a few minutes at case conferences in court, while he was in pretrial.
Tim, however, was a spiritual warrior, invigorated by his meditative practices, and by the insights he gained by his Spiritual Sight sessions. He asked for and received the prosecutor’s and his own attorney’s case files. He poured over hundreds of mind-numbing pages of legal documents. He found nothing that would help his case.
His ex-wife filed an affidavit with the court stating that she no longer believed that he exposed his own daughter to pornography. His daughter made a statement exonerating him. Tim argued to the court that the issue of child pornography on his computer would have never come up if it were not for the misunderstanding about his daughter’s computer search.
In desperation, he went over the files again and again, not really even really looking at the words on the pages.
Until one day, he saw it. The serial number of the computer that was shown to have pornography on it was not in fact Tim’s computer. He brought this to the attention of his new court appointed attorney. He heard nothing. For an entire year.
By this time Dr. Morse had been moved into the Key Program. Tim stopped practicing his spirituality in prison, stopped exercising, and started binge eating. This was his situation when Dr. Morse was reunited with him a year later. This is when he used the spiritual sight session to reboot his spiritual practices and connection to the Universe.
Now with his evidentiary hearing only days away, suddenly the prosecution offered him a deal which would allow him to go home. But he would have to plead guilty to one felony count of child pornography. His lawyer, just like the prior court appointed attorney three years earlier, urged him to take the deal.
Tim didn’t take the deal. His attorney was apoplectic.
Dr. Morse spoke with Tim the night after he met with his attorney. His eyes were misty and he was scared. He told me: “I produced an affidavit from my ex-wife saying that this all started over a misunderstanding and a frightened girl’s remark. That did not make any difference. Then a year ago, I showed the court evidence that the computer that had pornography on it was not my computer. After hearing nothing for a year, suddenly I am told to plead guilty again to child pornography and I can go home. My own attorney told me to take the deal. And I turned it down! What was I thinking?”
“Tim”, Dr. Morse said, “Maybe you weren’t thinking. Maybe you were doing what your inner wisdom was telling you.” Tim agreed. They agreed: It was like God made the decision for me.
Tim made the right decision. The next day his attorney contacted him. Tim was offered and accepted a deal to plead to a lesser charge that did not involve registration on the sex abuser registry. He went home that day.
Dr. Morse hugged Tim as he left. He told him that all he had learned about spirituality from him made coming to prison worthwhile. He smiled and agreed with Melvin. “I hated this place, but I learned so much these past three years. I would not trade this time I spent here for anything.”
He walked out the door, and he said, “It is done”.