About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

Earnie Believed in Overcoming, Not Ignoring

Earnie Larsen died last month. A prolific author, he was known by people in recovery for the books he wrote about recovering from alcohol and other drugs. Larsen wrote a series of programs called the Life Skills Series for Inmates and Parolees. The programs helped inmates end the cycle of violence by recognizing the effects previous traumas had on them—and not passing those harmful behaviors onto others. Larsen didn’t ignore uncomfortable topics like childhood abuse nor did he excuse them. But he offered ways to overcome their legacy.

Earnie Larsen's books weren't always popular in a lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key society. But the popular way isn't always the right way. As he explained in the program Beyond Anger:

“Over the years, I have received many letters from inmates telling me they have taken some saying or sentence from one of my books or videos and placed it somewhere in the cell or pod. They said it was a daily reminder for them on this new road they were trying to travel.”

But treatment doesn’t work in Tim Pawlenty’s world.

Living near the city of Moose Lake, which houses one of Minnesota's sex offender treatment facilities, and having written extensively about Earnie Larsen's books, I am drawn to this issue on more than one level. It’s somehow fitting that the passing of Larsen, and a state report that casts doubt on the effectiveness of sex offender treatment, have intersected.

I also write occasionally for The UpTake. The views expressed here are my views.

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