Letter: Inmate to hometown: Can you forgive me?

To the editor:

My name is Joshua Brook Baumgardner. I’m formerly from Franklin. I’m currently incarcerated at the Branchville Correctional Facility in southern Indiana. I’m serving a 12.5-year sentence for dealing in a controlled substance.

I was sentenced under the old law that allows me to serve only half of my sentence if I stay out of trouble while in DOC. I can also get additional time cut off my sentence for completing certain types of programs, which I’m currently in the process of. My hopes are to be released Jan. 1, 2017.

Each year of my incarceration I have dedicated to a certain area of my life to better myself. My first year, I used to just get sober and get my mind and body in a better working state. My second year, I used to try to re-establish and strengthen my relationship with the Lord. I read religious books and read the Bible from front to back.

My third year I worked on relationships with family and old friendships I was able to salvage. Now, I’m getting ready to start my fourth year, and the word that I keep repeating over and over in my head is “redemption”: to make a wrong a right. Atonement for guilt. The first step on my road to redemption is to ask for forgiveness, and that’s where I’m hoping the Daily Journal can help me.

The Daily Journal has been a part of my life since I was just a few months old. In December 1984 when I was just 11 months old, I was on the front page of the Daily Journal with my parents at the Remington trailer park on U.S. 31 South picking out a Christmas tree when they used to sell them in the parking lot of the main office. As a teenager, I played football and track and field at Franklin Community High School and had several pictures and articles published in the sports section.

My first job was in 1995 when I delivered the Journal in my neighborhood in Knollwood Farms. Even today, the Journal is very important to my life. Being 2.5 hours away from home it’s hard to know what’s going on back at home. My family has provided me with a subscription to keep me up to date with things in Johnson County. It gives me a little piece of home.

That’s why I’m asking for your help. I’m wanting to make an apology to my community. If I was to make a written apology to Franklin and all of the residents of Johnson County, would you be willing to publish it in the Daily Journal for me?

I’m not doing this with the hopes of using it to get out of prison early. As part of my plea bargain with the Johnson County prosecutor’s office, I’m not eligible for a sentence modification or reduction. I’m just doing this because I feel like it’s the right thing to do.

I love my town, county and community; but up until this point, I’ve had nothing but a negative impact on it. I want to ask for forgiveness and start in a positive direction my community can be proud of.

Thank you for your consideration.

Joshua Brook Baumgardner

Branchville Correctional Facility