Life improves for prisoner Whipple, who hopes to be paroled

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Correspondent Robert Z. Whipple, whose state slave number is 399615, hopes to be freed soon. (Photo David Tulis)

PIKEVILLE, Tenn., February 10, 2018 — It was good to hear from you; I appreciated the articles you included. While I have read a bit about administrative notice, I’ve never written a formal notice,  though I always try to cite relevant law and Policy when I write a grievance that I believe might later lead to litigation. I especially enjoyed the “battlefield tactics” article. What an apt description of dull-witted creature known as a bureaucrat!

As to your comments about release, I should clarify and say that I may be released in April. I have given up trying to predict what the parole board might do. I’ve taken all the programs and classes they recommended (and some they didn’t), haven’t had a disciplinary since 2014, have been “release eligible” since 2015, and my crimes are non-violent property crimes.

That being said, they’ve already turned me down twice; the last time I was recommended by the hearing officer, but ultimately denied. I have prayed a lot about it, turned it over to Him, and whatever happens, I’ll praise Him. If released I’ll stay at the halfway house for 3-6 months, until I can get back on my feet, but I‘m in no hurry. I’ve been locked up seven years so the transition back to society will like require an adjustment period.

Colson’s great influence

I am always interested in learning more about God’s plan and His law for us, so I will make an effort to seek out literature about the neo-Puritan views. As for Chuck Colson, I truly admire him and his fellowship. His autobiography was one of my first exposures to God’s love. I read it in prison, before I was saved, because I thought it would tell more about Watergate than it dld. While I was disappointed at that time to see that he spent more than half the book talking God, I think it planted a seed.

As for my goal of serving God, I must admit it wasn’t my idea at all; it was God’s. In the past year or so, I have really drawn closer to Him, and the more I do that, the more clearly I see Him speaking to me. Not in the “burning bush” sense, but through events, other people, and “intuition” (for lack of a better way to put it). I am sort of hard-headed at times, so when God wants to show me something he will put it in my path so many times I cannot possibly ignore it. In these past months, he has made it clear to me that the best way to show my love for Him, is to help others, to be a disciple, and use the gifts He has given me.

One of those gifts is a keen mind and the gift of discernment, which has allowed me to learn a lot about the law, TDOC policy, and prisoner civil rights. I have always helped people with their legal issues while in prison, but I always demanded payment for it, and many simply couldn’t afford my services.

Loving others with legal help

God has shown me that instead of being greedy and demanding payment, I could use these encounters to love my neighbors, reflecting God’s love. Not to mention it is against TDOC rules to charge for legal assistance, it also violates state law as Unauthorized Practice of Law, and, of course since all authority is ordained of God, I am supposed to follow man’s law as well as God’s law.

Like most things I’ve experienced since being saved and reborn, I am amazed at the results when I do God‘s will. I have more “clients” than ever, of course, but many of them marvel when I refuse payment. And while I haven’t had any immediate conversions, none have resisted when I asked them if we could pray together, and about half accept invitations to come to a service with me. I hope I am at least planting a seed with them, but the results aren’t up to me, they are up to Him!

Probably my most enthusiastic work for Him has been in our AA meetings. While AA is open to all beliefs, its principles come from the Bible and provide even more opportunity to stay on a spiritual path.

The group we have at the BCCX annex is about 12 that attend faithfully, out of a population of about 120, so represents a significant percentage. God has allowed us to have a few “perks” for being in the group; the most significant being we can order free-world food for a banquet every three months. One brother started coming just for the food, and told me so. I told him it was fine, we’d love to have you. Several months later, this brother has started sharing, praying, and attending Christian services! This is how I know that God is using us!

‘Largely resolved now’

As for my personal issues, they are largely resolved now. I have my shoes now and am receiving all my medications once again. As for law library access through a Westlaw terminal, they continue to drag their feet, but I have some pretty good assurances, in writing that it is coming soon.

Through a public records act request, I was able to learn that the state began paying for the additional license in late December, so they are presently wasting $600 per month for nothing — typical bureaucracy!

I really hesitate to complain much right now, since I am in a good place (for prison), have a good job (inventory clerk, in charge of $400k worth of commissary items), and no matter what the parole board decides, will get out soon. I have about 33 months left to expire. Having said that, I will try to help others as much as I can (including Grenda Harmer), and try to spend as much time prayer and meditation as I can.  Yours in Christ, etc.

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