A Solid Foundation Built on an Unstable Landscape…

Whenever I receive letters from the five men in Wisconsin prisons I’m always anxious to open them and read about actual prison life. The letters represent history in the making for some special people I’ve yet to meet. These letters are a valuable source for them to vent freely without fear of undue judgment. I never forget that the deeply personal messages contained in them are from vulnerable men who’ve placed thier trust in me and hope that I will never betray that trust.


Michael Hirn; Art courtesy of Artist Jared Manninen

Michael Hirn easily fills both sides of two pages with whatever is on his mind. He’s always focused and clear about the humility and patience needed in prison because of how difficult it is to achieve recognition for accomplishments. He often airs his complaints before apologizing for harboring angry feelings. But he doesn’t dwell on criticism and ends his letters with a sincere appreciation for those who’ve shown support. Michael is and always has been a hard worker. He’s never wavered in the belief that he will one day be free. He’s determined to help correct some of the many flaws within the justice system that could benefit those still incarcerated. I believe that he will follow through with that mission and I’ll lend whatever assistance I can to support his efforts.

During last year’s “Walk for Truth and Justice” in Green Bay, I was introduced to Michael’s son Tyler-his only child. Tyler was a baby when his Father was taken so he’s never known his dad outside of prison. Even so, Tyler is polite, mature and kind despite the unfairness bestowed upon his family. He’s grown into a handsome adult who shows tremendous gratitude for all that is being done for his dad.

Michael had sent me a picture of the two of them taken at the prison over the holidays. Their smiles expressed their close relationship despite the separation. That picture is on my refrigerator as a reminder of why I continue to be so passionate about helping these people.

Michael is the youngest of the five incarcerated men. He’s lost the best years of his life that should have been spent with his son. He was an avid outdoorsman who should have been able to spend all of his spare time teaching his son how to fish and do the things that fathers and sons do.They’ll never get those years back. But when given the chance I know they’ll somehow find a way to pick up the pieces and build a new life. They’ll do the best they can because of the solid foundation on which they’ve built thier relationship.


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