Austin Cox Sr. joins Gen. Robert Harleston at Eastern Correctional Institution on D-Day, 2010, actor Charles DuttonIn Crisfield, we are proud of all of our veterans, and we show it throughout the year. It is always nice when our veterans share their experiences with the community. We feel especially honored to have two living native Crisfield D-Day veterans (Austin Cox, Sr. and Gen. Dana Tawes), both who fought on the beaches at Normandy.
On December 7, 2010, Austin Cox Sr., along with past warden Gen. Robert Harleston spoke to incarcerated veterans at ECI in Princess Anne. I was there to document the event.
A CO hands out questionnaire forms.
Austin Cox, right, is greeted by an incarcerated veteran.
Cox applauds veterans for their service.
Veterans raise their hands with questions.
The backdrops were painted by incarcerated veterans.
Gen. Robert Harleston, a veteran of the Vietnam War, greets Austin Cox, Sr. before speaking.
An incarcerated veteran takes video footage of the event, learning a new skill.
Gen. Harleston talks of his experiences.
I snapped a shot through the glass window on my way out, as both speakers took questions.
Thanks to Eastern Correctional Institution for allowing me to once again photograph inside. It is like a city, with jobs, schools, stores, rec areas, and opportunities to learn many skills. I know some people scoff at amenities at correctional institutions and prisons, but the institutions provide everyone equal opportunities to leave with new skills that allow them to become productive citizens in their chosen communities across the nation.
One example of how our Maryland State prison system works can be found in the success of actor and director Charles Dutton who was born in Baltimore.
Though never incarcerated at ECI, Dutton is a shining example of how people can turn their lives around if they take advantage of the opportunities afforded them while serving their sentences. At 17, Dutton was convicted of manslaughter, serving a seven-and-one-half-year prison term. Two years later, he returned to prison for parole violations. While there, his sentence of three-years was elevated to eleven-years, after he assaulted a prison guard. At one point, he was sent to solitary confinement. With him, he took a book of plays that inspired him to start a theater group. In order to organize the theater group, he was required to get a high school diploma. That led him to enrolling in the penitentiary's two-year college program. After his release, he attended Towson State University where he studied drama, and was eventually accepted at the Yale School of Drama.
Dutton's career has blossomed over his twenty-six year career. He was nominated for a Tony award, was the lead actor in Fox's sitcom "Roc", directed HBO's award-winning miniseries "The Corner", and that's just a small sampling of his works that include movies, TV, and the theater.
So why did I switch from Cox and Harleston on D-Day to amenities at ECI to Dutton? Because Dutton is a fellow-Marylander and proof that our prison and correctional institutions do work (I love his work, too). It's a two-way street, and our correctional officers, prison guards, and employees do all they can to send people back out on the streets with the tools they need to turn their lives around. Just look what one small book did for Dutton? Who knows what paths may have been changed by speakers Cox and Harleston?
I have always been impressed with the professionalism of the correctional officers at ECI. They do a great job. Kudos to both the administration and employees.
Mr. Dutton, if you ever feel like inspiring someone at ECI, I am sure they would love to have you. And I will be there, with cameras in tow.
Gratitude to Cox and Harleston, heroes in all our minds, for spending time with the veterans at ECI.