Sunday, March 30, 2014


Art Club comes to Okaloosa

It has been several years since they closed down the art department at Tomoka C.I., and most of my art materials, paints, brushes and canvases were pilfered and stolen by guards, and I’ve gotten out of practice with my artwork. But a couple of months ago, here at Okaloosa C.I., the administration instituted an “art club,” fifteen member limit, with an initial launch of colored pencils, graphite pencils, and a sketch pad to get it rolling. I can’t let any creative opportunity pass by, so I signed up early, agreeing to help with instruction.

Although I would prefer working with watercolors and acrylic paints, I’ll settle for what I can get. It turns out that there are several fairly accomplished artists here, along with novices who want to learn.

I’ve done a few pencil sketches just to get back in practice. Included here are two of them. Portrait of the Artist’s Hands is self-explanatory, and the other is Green-eyed Girl. While our sponsor was on strike, and we couldn’t get access to the colored pencils, I began a new portrait using just a Number 2 pencil.

Let me know if you like these.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


 A Positive New Program that has come to Okaloosa C.I.

Creative writing is a skill with wide-ranging applications in education, employment, and daily life, including the development of critical thinking skills. The Creative  Writing Club of Okaloosa C. I. held its first class November 4, 2013, and has completed nineteen classes in the past four months. Sgt. Worrell sponsors the meetings. Inmate Instructor Charles Norman has conducted a variety of writing programs over the past thirty years.

Classes are limited to about fifteen students, with a waiting list, and are held in the Re-entry Classroom, although inmates from any housing area are eligible to attend. Classes are taught in modules, including Introduction to Creative Writing, Poetry Workshop, Fiction Workshop, Memoirs and Creative Non-Fiction. Students are required to complete weekly writing assignments.

It is a well-proven fact that education reduces recidivism by high double-digit percentages, and the Creative Writing Club fits into the goals of the Re-entry Program. Response has been enthusiastic.

Materials and supplies are donated. The PEN American Center in New York City, an international literary  society that, among other programs,  sponsors prison writing programs in all fifty states, donated copies of their Handbook For Writers In Prison.

The program is ongoing.


Saturday, March 15, 2014



Refused and rejected mail

In the past three months several friends have sent me cards or letters that were refused, rejected, and eventually returned to sender. Although the reasons were invalid and in violation of federal court rulings on handling mail to and from prisoners, nevertheless, most of the cards and letters were refused because they had one or more decorative, adhesive “stickers” on the envelope. This is pure mean-spirited spite by hostile mail room staff who retaliate against me every chance they get, because I had the audacity to file complaints against them for mishandling my mail. I was not notified that the mail was sent back, and only learned of several when they told Libby via e-mail. I learned of two others from a grievance response.

I don’t get much mail anymore, but I treasure what is sent to me. They play games with my mail in an attempt to isolate me from the world, friends and loved ones. I don’t want them to think their evil tactics are working.

Return address labels don’t count, but if you do send me a card or letter please don’t  decorate the envelope with stickers, no matter how innocent. Thanks.

The second excuse the mail grinches have used to reject my mail is if someone addresses the envelope to “Charlie” Norman, rather than the official “Charles” Norman. That is also the subject of a federal legal complaint, but for the time being, please be sure to address any mail to me this way: Charles Norman #881834
                                                             Okaloosa Correctional Institution
                                                              3189 Colonel Greg Malloy Rd.
                                                               Crestview, FL  32539

No matter how much they target  and harass me through tampering with and hindering my mail, I maintain a positive attitude and follow the legal remedies available to me. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution guarantees every person’s freedom of speech, and that includes prisoners. Federal courts have repeatedly ruled against any governmental efforts to restrict correspondence to and from prisoners. Free citizens retain even stronger federal protections of their rights to communicate with people in prison. So if you have had a letter rejected, don’t get discouraged. Just resend the letter with the offending detail removed, and let me know, so I can file another appeal.

Thanks, and best regards,

Saturday, March 1, 2014



Editor’s note: We received this note recently in response to Charlie’s entry,  “Keeping In Touch With Your Former Self.”  This blessing so moved Charlie that he wanted to thank our reader for taking the time to send it. Readers like this one are huge encouragement to Charlie, to keep him traveling the right path, especially when times get dark. Thank you, our new friend! and we thank God for you and are keeping you in our prayers.

Hi Mr Norman. It's so amazing to know that our (the public’s) comments don't get forgotten. Well it says a lot about the blogger who takes the time out to send a personal email to his commentators! (AND HE IS IN PRISON).

 You make me smile and make me see that life is so worth living, if we just see that Jesus Christ is always there for each and every one of us. For you to even mention your commentators in your blog, it shows what calibre you are made of! Pure love, hope and faith, the three elements which The Lord Jesus Christ wants us and all to have! 

I cannot say this enough but you are one 'hell' of a guy! God knew exactly what he was doing when he made you! You are his soldier. Even from the depths of prison, you bring and show people who and what the Lord is. 

Your sheer determination is unbelievable, and seeing you being in such a horrific environment and still striving and still not losing faith and still helping others and still not forsaking Our Lord and still bringing people to the Lord, it just takes my breath away! 

Thanx for being a source of encouragement to me and many people even though we never met, but I know it’s not by coincidence that the Lord put us on a path to 'meet' each other, (via another blessed person). To meet a person specifically chosen by God, is a blessing. Thank you so much! And Thank You, God, for using Mr Norman to bless me.