In a previous blog, I introduced an inmate I called Charles.
He wrote me a letter introducing himself as an inmate in the Sheridan Correctional Center in Illinois. Charles wanted to issue a public apology and asked me my opinion about doing so.
That blog post included my response to him. In summary, I suggested he should definitely draft such a letter. Whether he should mail the apology to the local newspaper as he intended to do, was another matter.
But, Careful, Apology is Not Cost-Free
I support public apologies. But I tried to tell him that apologies are not without risk. Nor are they cost-free. Apologies are just less costly than the alternatives of denial, evading accountability, shame, and secrecy. But apologies present risk. In my book, I recount the story of a man who “got away” with date rape, felt bad about it, and, years later, apologized to his victim. The victim involved the police and the man went to jail. The man eventually came to understand that it was probably an equitable outcome.
But the letter-writer was already in jail and serving a sentence. I didn’t see a practical risk to issuing a letter of apology for matters for which he was already fully accountable.
I suggested he draft an apology and I would, if he sent it to me, give him the benefit of my opinion.
Well, he sent me a longish letter of apology that was detailed about his crimes and his remorse. I suggested that if he wanted a local newspaper to publish it, he needed to shorten the letter.
This he did and here’s the final letter. I wish all issuers of public apologies would take as much care in the crafting of the apology.
He invited me to share it with the readers of this blog.
By the way, his name is Nicholas Seidel. He is going public with his letter and wanted to start taking full responsibility right here.
This is the letter that Nicholas Seidel will send to the Kane County Chronicle, the newspaper that serves his hometown:
I apologize to the good people of the Tri-Cities. In my selfishness, I stole from local businesses. I was dishonest in my affairs. I was reckless on our streets. I betrayed everybody’s trust and I did all of these things on my own accord. I am so sorry about all of the damage that I caused. My guilt and shame haunt me every single day. Soon I will have finished my sentence. I owe my community some form of restitution. I’m making a commitment to serve the public in humble ways when I am released. My days behind bars have been well-spent. I have completed the nation’s most intensive rehabilitation program and earned my high school diploma with honors. I am sharing this to let you know that I’m taking my life in a different direction now; I promise never to return to a life of crime. I truly am sorry for all I have done. Signed Nicholas Seidel Nicholas Seidel has been incarcerated since December 22, 2011. He was transferred to the Sheridan Correctional Center from the Kane County Jail on June 16, 2013. He was convicted of burglary, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing and eluding, and forgery. He is scheduled to be released in December, 2015.
Congratulations to Nicholas for taking responsibility, issuing such a good apology, and taking steps to turn his life around. I wish him the best. If the Kane Country Chronicle publishes the letter, I’ll report on what, if anything, happens.