She knows her boyfriend deserves to be in prison. But she still wants him out.And she doesn’t want him spending his life behind bars — not when he could be with her and her children.
Melissa, a 32-year-old woman in Idaho, met Scott through WriteAPrisoner.com about three months ago.
She and Scott are now in a committed relationship even though they’ve never talked face to face. (The pair asked that their last names not be used.)
- FACES OF THE PRISON CRISIS: Melissa’s story is the third in our series about what it takes to live through prison. You can read the first story here and the second story here. Look for the fourth instalment next week.
Scott, now 35, was given a life sentence about 15 years ago after he and a friend beat up another friend they thought was a police informant. They were both drunk and high when they beat the man to death, Scott says.
“There was something about [Scott’s crime] that just captured” her, Melissa said of Scott’s WriteAPrisoner profile. “The shocking cruelty of it and the way it was portrayed.”
(His profile no longer mentions the murder, but it’s possible he has since updated it.)
Scott has to serve a minimum of 25 years before being eligible for parole, a sentence Melissa says she doesn’t think is “necessarily appropriate.”
“I think for me I can see the human in him where other people just see the monster,” she said.
Melissa and Scott are in a committed relationship and are hoping to get visitation approved as soon as possible at the privately run Idaho Correctional centre.
But in the meantime, they talk on the phone as often as possible. Scott is working on building a relationship with Melissa’s two children who are 9 and 6. The kids send Scott their artwork and he helps them with their homework, all via the phone.
One day, Scott even taught Melissa’s daughter how to fix a flat in her bike tire, Melissa said.
The kids know Scott is in jail but weren’t given full details about his crime.
“They’re so young, they might just think that he’s a monster,” Melissa said.
Melissa says she doesn’t believe she’s putting her kids in danger by encouraging a relationship with Scott and isn’t worried about the repercussions. But Scott has some reservations.
“Like to me I sometimes go back and forth on it,” Scott told Business Insider during a phone call from his Idaho prison. “Is it helping the kids that I’m involved or is it holding them back? I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do to involve the kids in the prison system but at the same time, I don’t think you should hide it from them.”
But the kids won’t be visiting Scott any time soon. The prison system only allows children who are direct relatives to visit an inmate, meaning Scott and Melissa would have to get married — something Melissa is willing to do but Scott is unsure about.
“I don’t know if he’s really into the marriage thing,” she said. “I would get married in prison, I don’t see a problem with it.”
The children already ask Scott when he is going to marry Melissa because they want to call him dad, Scott said. But he’s just not comfortable with it yet.
“I’d hate to do the marriage thing in here just for [visitation purposes],” he said. “I think that it’s something more, it’s something that everyone should be there for, it shouldn’t be in the visitors room with a cop standing over you.”
Melissa would also need the children’s’ fathers’ permission for the kids to visit Scott, which she doesn’t think she could get.
And while Melissa is comfortable with their relationship and its impact on the kids, her family has a decidedly different take on the situation.
“My family doesn’t support me in this endeavour at all,” Melissa said, adding that she grew up in “a very strict military family” that is “very old school.”
But Scott understands her family’s fears.
“I mean, who wants their daughter involved with a guy in prison?” he said, adding he has a “hard time” with her family’s disapproval.
“Regardless of whether they like it or not, they should still support their daughter and their daughter’s feelings,” he said, adding he doesn’t want Melissa to be forced to choose between him and her family.