Thursday, November 27, 2014


I wanted to share a few more photos taken at Zephyrhills C.I. between 1983-1987, when I had access to a 35mm camera, and was allowed to develop and implement positive programs on a scale never to be duplicated. Prison has changed greatly, sadly, for the worse. I would appreciate any comments you have.

I told you about the Jaycee beautification project that resulted in the fish pond, waterfall, wooden footbridge and garden used as a backdrop for the photo project. The above photo was taken in July, 1983, an extremely hot day. My friend, Steve Opella (who has been free for many years) and I decided we would cool off , which was expressly forbidden. A sign just outside the picture, said, “Unauthorized area — D.R. Offense.” We thought we’d gotten away with it.

A couple of weeks later, the warden, Ray Henderson, told us that the Jaycee sponsor (a guard), who picked up our photos at Eckerd’s drug store, always delivered that week’s photos to him for review before they were passed out. He let that bit of information soak in for a minute, then said, “I saw that photo of you and Opella in my fishpond.”

He let us know that we hadn’t gotten away with anything.

“I don’t want to see any more pictures in the water.”

“No sir.”

Message delivered. This photo lives on for posterity.

This is another photo of four of us posing with Jack Murphy on the wooden footbridge the week before he went home  in November, 19884. That’s me with the ball cap and sunglasses. We were clowning around that day, something that is not allowed now. No group photos.

On October 19, 1985, Jack Murphy returned to Zephyrhills C.I. for the first time since his release. Tommy Lloyd and John Garcia, the two men wearing white shirts at left, baked the special cake, with the “Sonshine Adventure” whale logo, commemorating his return. On the morning of Murf’s release, November 20, 1984, seventy of us stood in a circle around the Jaycee fishpond saying prayers for his success. The prayers were answered. A CBS News and  ABC News helicopters circled overhead, Jack’s last words to me were, “I’m coming back for you, brother.” He has kept that promise, although I’m still imprisoned.

The cake was delicious.


I learned quilting at my grandmother, Memaw’s, side, as a child. Never would I have believed that decades later I would put those skills to use making handsewn quilted banners for the Kairos Prison Ministry and other outside programs.

This photo shows me, at right, with three helpers holding up a banner I made for “Chrysalis,” a three-day weekend religious program for teens in Ocala, Florida. The three-dimensional quilted butterfly, I told people, was my first stuffed animal. I heard the teenagers were impressed.

During that four-year period at Zephyrhills C.I., my family lived only twelve miles away, and were allowed to come in for Sunday chapel services each week, which was a great benefit. My entire family came in together at times, visitors were allowed to bring in home-cooked meals on special occasions, we had outdoor services inside the prison with our families, Easter Sunrise Services, Easter egg hunts for prisoners’ children, church choirs and Christian rock bands, and so much more. It was a truly special time that has come and gone.

I still have a few photos left that I will share soon.

May God bless and keep you.

Charles Patrick Norman
November 14, 2014


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