Some DOC regulations prohibit Designed Conviction from conducting interviews, this does not mean that we just forgo the interview and not share stories of hope. Instead we work with the incarcerated through snail mail, and emails to bring to you a blog that highlights those who are not able to participate in the Life of a Lifer Podcast. We devote the same amount of time to everyone’s interview to share with you the extraordinary life changes that can and do occur behind prison walls. We hope you will enjoy these blog interviews and support change within the prison systems.
Geoffrey Sean Kennedy was convicted in 2001 for attempted murder, capital felony murder and armed robbery, he almost received the death penalty, instead he was given a natural life sentence.
Over the 20 years of his incarceration Sean has mentored younger inmates by sharing his story to show that even though they may be incarcerated they can change and live differently. Embracing his faith, because without God nothing is possible in life, Sean states that you get your blessings from helping others. For the past year Sean has worked as the chapel clerk and loves his job, working to facilitate life changing programs for those who are interested he travels the compound with the chaplain to pass out books and religious materials to inmates.
Sean is also an artist who likes to draw bridges, landscapes and city scenes with intricate detail, he enjoys drawing people and putting them in the places he creates, stating that he likes to capture life on paper.
- Would you say that art has helped change your life and the lives of others around you?
Art has definitely changed my life in so many ways. Drawing is to create and when you are doing something that gives, how shall we say, “life” to something it helps you to really think about what you have done in life to destroy. That can mean many things at least to me. Like broken relationships, things we have done against others, etc. It is always so easy to destroy but takes work to create. I have always enjoyed doing creative things and the feeling i get from watching others after they see something, I have done gives me a great sense of pride. That makes me realize what life is truly about, giving back to others and making people happy. To bring joy, peace, and love to everyone. As far as the people around me inside these fences art is enjoyed by few. I strongly think it should be promoted more but sadly it is not. They used to have Hobbycraft years ago but took that out for security reasons. So only a select few draw and then with limited supplies, what we can scrape together or run across. I would give anything to be able to order art supplies and have top quality supplies, but it is against the rules. Has art changed others’ lives? To those who have a passion I am sure it probably has. I know for me it has and I want to share my art with the world and will one day.
- How has art helped you deal with your sentence?
Art has given me the ability in an environment of profound negativity and chaos to rise above it thru my projects for my spouse, son, family, and friends to keep myself focused on something positive. While doing anything positive you either enjoy it or you don’t. I thoroughly enjoy it and in turn gave me that push 20 years ago to say, ” What’s wrong with Sean?! ” what were you thinking!!! So, art was a catalyst for me in taking a great inventory of my life and all I had done to hurt others. Any artist wants his work to be liked and to be respected for it but unless you have your life together at the same time you never will be.
- What charities are you passionate about and are you able to donate your work to them?
I am very passionate about charities concerning Cancer, Mental Health, Disabled Veterans, At risk Children, and Catholic ones to name a few. I have donated stuff before to churches or sent stamps to provide to inmates who can’t afford to write their families but as of yet not as much as I would like. That will change though.
- Can you tell us about your job as a chapel clerk? How did you get started, what do you do, how does it help you and others?
Working as a prison chapel clerk entails many things. We are responsible for the cleaning of the chapel. When we arrive in the mornings, we make sure even more so thru this pandemic that everything is clean and bleached. We get all the trash together and get rid of it and when caustics come, we replenish what needs to be. Then our day starts. Right now, me and my coworker who live in the same area are working one week and two off because there are two other clerks who live in two separate areas. Our duties are many things. Fulfilling requests for the inmates after the chaplains answer them. Like providing cards, religious books and magazines, etc. Sadly, we are not able to have any programs in the chapel right now, but when we do, we facilitate some and work alongside the chaplains and volunteers on others. On the weekends in normal times when there are services again we have to be there with the volunteers to sign inmates in, to make sure everything is ready and set up for the particular service, and we also have to keep an eye on things as if anything comes up missing it falls on us. We have not had Mass in almost 6 months sadly. I got started because of being here so long on PM and attending services regularly. My layman had spoken to the chaplain and then I did as well as my friend who is a clerk. The chaplain offered me a job if I signed off the PM unit, so I did last Dec. and have enjoyed every moment of working in the chapel. Working in the chapel helps me and others in many ways. My faith has gotten stronger and in turn it really makes me think what I can do to help inmates who want help. My coworkers also are great guys and they teach me things every day. Working in the chapel is about serving people and helping them thru their hardships from my own experiences as I try to do. Lord knows I fall at times, but I pick myself right back up.
- What would you like the general public to know about you?
That I am a person who has worked hard to change. To really take a deep look within myself and to understand myself. To take full responsibility for my actions and to make amends the best I can. I have worked hard these last 20 years in overcoming my flaws and becoming a man I am proud of and that my wife, son, family, friends, and society can be proud of. Most importantly I have become a man God can be proud of. I have always held the belief that a man/woman should be judged for how he/she acts now. Sadly, we are judged a lot on our past actions. Something Jesus told the Pharisees when they were getting ready to stone the prostitute. Jesus told them ” Let those free of sin cast the first stone.” None of them did. My point is everyone has the right to be forgiven especially if they have changed.
- How can we as a society change the perception about people who are incarcerated?
Well I suppose there are many things those of you out there can do to change the perception of us in here. First you have to realize not everyone in here wants to change so that is the tricky part. Maybe randomly picking inmates in all 50 states and sending them questions to answer is a start? You can learn a lot about a person just by how they answer questions. Then take the time to get to them and understand them. I think more people should become volunteers for religious services and in turn they would get to know inmates. A positive influence coming inside these fences just may be the catalyst for that person to change? A lot of men/women inmates never had any positive influences in their lives or compassion and lashed out at society because they felt abandoned and rejected. I know volunteers have had a big impact on my life.
We at Designed Conviction thank Sean for taking the time to answer our questions, sharing with us how he is positively affecting those around him, and for giving us honest insight into the perceptions of the incarcerated.