Updated: Jan 19
Carmen Best Chief of Seattle Police Department P.O. Box 34986 Seattle, Wa 98124
Re: Gang Prevention and Intervention
Dear Ms. Best,
My name is Charles Champion and I am currently incarcerated in the Department of Corrections at Stafford Creek Corrections Center here in Aberdeen. Let me first tell you why I am writing you, and then I want to tell you a little bit about myself and what it is that a brother of mines and I are doing.
For the last several weeks I have been following the news coverage concerning the spike in gang violence in the city of Seattle and your commitment to keep the citizens of your city safe and to stop the gang violence. The reason why the spike in gang violence in your city has become of interest to me is because, as an Ex-gang member, I understand the psychology and what drives the gang mentality. And having had the scales removed from my own eyes, enabling me to see the false realities of the gang lifestyle, I've worked tirelessly to undo and uproot the illusions, lies, and destructive mentality that perpetuate the gang lifestyle that I've sown in the lives of so many men and communities across the Northwest.
To this end, a movement specifically targeting former and current gang members on the "big yard" of one of the largest prisons in our State, has grown into a nonprofit organization called Filthy Rags Outreach. Using Biblical principles and concepts, my brother Alphonso Bell and I began by specifically targeting former and current gang members with the intent of first, leading men to Christ, and second, changing the mindset of men by exposing the false realities of the gang lifestyle and equipping men with the tools and knowledge they need to make a difference in the communities they will one day return to. What began with only a few men on the prison "big yard" rallying around Christ and the desire to change has grown into over thirty men--and not just ordinary men, I'm talking about prominent men of influence. Men who have long misused their gifts of leadership and now desire to use their influence for change. What we have been doing has had such an impact that administration has allowed us to take what we have been doing out on the big yard and have allowed us to have a classroom in the education building. Ms. Best, this is no small feat. If you were able to see with your own eyes the type of men we're bringing together and hear with your own ears the things that we're talking about, I am very confident that these are the type of conversations that you would want to be apart of.
We would like to invite you up to get a first-rate view of the changes we're making in prison and the impact we're having on men's lives, and offer some insight and some methods of approach that have proven to be effective. The courage that rise from our convictions have brought myself, and the men I'm referring to, to a place where we want to help turn this epidemic of gang life around. This, in and of itself, is powerful and worthy of your time and attention--and I say this very humbly and remorsefully--since you know first-hand the power of the courage that arises from our convictions, as you have been left to deal with it. We've learned that we have to bloom right where we're planted, so the soil that we till is the prison big yard. The majority of men in prison will release right back into the communities they came from, and we believe that if we can change the perception of these men before they're released from prison, then we can send them back into their communities to commit, not acts of crime, but acts that will help to reverse the perpetuation of the gang mentality and lifestyle.
In closing, Ms. Best I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this letter with hopes that we can turn this epidemic of falsehood around for our families and community as a whole. I look forward to hearing and collaborating with you in the near future. Please feel free to contact me at the address below:
Charles Champion #878837 (H-4-117) Stafford Creek Correction Center 191 Constantine Way Aberdeen, WA 98520