My name is Tony Casson. 5/22/15
The words that occupied this space until the date above were written by yours truly shortly after entering the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, LA on April 1, 2010. I was 56 years old when I wrote those words, and I really had no clear picture of what this blog would look like as time went on.
I mean, originally I suppose I intended to write a lot of gripping, nail-biting articles about the brutality of prison life. You know, gang rapes and such. I also suppose I intended to entertain with my sabre-sharp wit.
Initially, at least, “TOC”, as we lovingly call it, was something along those lines, although there is little in the way of brutality at Oakdale FCI, and my wit, perhaps, is considerably duller than I thought or care to admit.
But along the way, something very interesting happened. As the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, and as those months turned into years, this tiny little piece of internet real estate became something of incalculable value to me.
As I wrote articles to enlighten others, I helped God open my eyes to see who He wanted me to be. During those times when I would wonder why I bothered to write at all, He would always present me with someone who let me know my efforts were helpful or comforting. As my relationship with God grew, so did my love for other people, and “TOC” was transformed into a place where we could all share the pain and suffering of separation from our loved ones as we examined the reasons we were separated in the first place.
“TOC” became home to my first public proclamations of my faith in God and in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and the first shaky steps of the new child in Christ that I was, became bold strides, full of confident purpose.
When I left prison on May 20, 2014, I headed for Washington, DC and I really had no idea what direction “TOC” would follow, but as I exercised my trust in God and focused my attention on the “Path To Freedom” He stretched out before me, I saw the signs of His active presence in my life – which I call His spiritual ‘bread crumbs’ – and “TOC” is more alive, useful, and full of purpose than ever before.
I started a new blog called “The AFTER-Oakdale Chronicles” in which my primary focus is trying to help others find the way to their own “Path To Freedom” through the retelling of the steps I took to find mine, and to share what God has taught me through His Word by regularly reading and studying the Holy Bible.
When I first started “AOC”, my plan was to simply post an occasional article here on “TOC” and see what transpired. I thought that it was useful only through what had already been written. I figured it would be something that would provide a point of reference for people who had a new connection to Oakdale FCI, but honestly, I did not think it could grow as a blog about prison life with me being free.
But God had a different idea. He introduced me to a young woman whose husband was soon to self-surrender at the same facility. She had questions. She had fears. She had a love for her husband that was held in place by her love for God.
“….but God” is one of her favorite expressions, and I have to admit, I like it too. Her name is Diane S. and she has a great God-given ability to turn her emotions out and bare them for all to see. It is devastating and uplifting, crushing and encouraging – all at the same time.
So here we are. You, Me, Diane, God, and a cast of characters that cannot be found anywhere else.
Take your time and poke around on “TOC”. There is a lot here to discover.
And for the ‘short version’ bio on me, and how my life brought me to Oakdale FCI in the first place, read this article I wrote for the Central Union Mission newsletter.
Enjoy your visit. Come back often, and let us know what you think.