Broken Grace: A Child's Journey Through Adult Maximum Security Prisons (Paperback)
Broken Grace: A Child's Journey through Adult Maximum Security Prisons is Joshua Wolf's memoir as a child overcoming unspeakable human pain and suffering. When Joshua was sixteen years old he was charged with killing his grandmother, Catherine. Immediately after her death, Joshua's grandfather, Andrew, forgave him and hired lawyers and a psychiatrist to beg the criminal justice system for mercy. This system ignored Andrew's merciful voice and even treated him like a criminal defendant under the banner of "justice." However, this did not deter Andrew from loving and supporting Joshua as he entered prison as a teenager. Andrew knew Joshua could still become the man he envisioned him to be when he would hold him high in the air as a baby.
Joshua shares the heartbreaking account of when Andrew forgave him when he writes, "'She loved you and so do I and I am getting you an attorney...' These are the words my grandfather, Andrew C. Thompson, tenderly spoke to me when I was in the Cape Girardeau Juvenile Hall Detention Center at the age of 16. After he whispered these compassionate words in my ear, he kissed my neck and left the tiny visiting room to begin a life for the first time without his wife of over 40 years. Her name was Catherine Thompson and we all called her Nana. I was in Juvenile Hall that day because I had been charged with murder for killing her. I did not know it then, but in the midst of this utter brokenness Papa's kiss would be the start of my journey, a journey of broken grace."
As Joshua travels through adult prisons, he gives witness to the unspeakable pain and suffering youths endure in adult institutions. Joshua gives us glimpses into this world as a seventeen year old, "We continued to walk toward the housing unit where I would be staying. We passed a white shirt along the way. The white shirts were the sergeants, lieutenants and captains of the prison. They had a higher rank than the blue shirted guards like the one escorting me. The white shirts had more control and authority over the inmates. 'Damn, how much is this one going to go for?' he mocked. I did not fully understand his words, but had a sick feeling in my gut he was talking about me being sold in the prison. I am sad to say that over the twenty years of my incarceration I have seen people sold for boxes of cigarettes...these human beings were purchased to be controlled and sexually abused by the inmates who bought them. They would often be pimped out to other inmates while under the control of their master."
Before Andrew died in 2018, he told Joshua that he could make Catherine's life up to him by making something of himself. You will see Joshua striving to do this as he matures through his journey of grace. As you turn the pages, you will see Joshua transforming into the man his grandfather envisioned him to be when he was a child. This journey will make you cry and laugh. It will also show you how to overcome and become whole again even after unspeakable loss and human suffering. May this journey touch, inform and challenge you as you travel along in the pages of Broken Grace.