"Missing for so long" by the Oakdale Community Choir


You reach for my hand, it wasn't there

It's been missing for years

One day it was there to help soothe away your fears

Then next it wasn't, and I let you fall


And I'm sorry that my guiding hand can't help you along

It's been bound and hidden, missing for so long

Gone and not there, need to be strong

To not lose hope and hope it's not long


I wrote you a letter the other day

'cause you're on my mind

I wish I was there

To help you when you fall down


I'm sorry I won't be there

Till you're a man

That was not my plan

My guiding hand is praying for you now


It may seem bound and hidden, missing for so long

Gone and not there, you need to be strong

To not lose hope and hope it's not long

I pray it's not too long

Small Group Break Outs:

  • Start with group introductions - by sharing your name, how did you join this conversation, and what are you hoping to get from the book club
  • After introductions, have each person share either a reflection on the quote shared, or a separate part of the text that was most impactful and why
  • If time allows, begin to explore additional discussion questions with your small group:
    • Part 2 goes into detail about the financial strain that incarceration places on family and loved ones of the incarcerated. How did you feel learning about this additional burden that the state places on families contacting each other?
    • How is the criminal legal system linked with parental rights? What stereotypes are perpetuated through this link?
    • Courts try to determine what is in “the best interests of the child” whenever minors are involved or impacted by a case. Should a convict’s parental status be considered in determining their sentence?
    • What barriers are placed on formerly incarcerated people upon reentry? Do these barriers serve to meet an end? How can these barriers be dismantled?
    • Incarcerated people are more likely to contract most illnesses and communicable diseases. In the age of COVID-19, high rates of infection are recorded in prisons. What robust policies can be implemented to mitigate the grave consequence from exposure to COVID-19?


At 4:40pm please return to the main Zoom room for the large group discussion and wrap up.

Join us next week on Thursday, October 21 at 7pm for the Author Keynote with Dr. Miller.

Summary Part 2:Wage

Summary provided by UI Law Student Laura Pico

Chapter 4: Millions of Details

In this chapter, Miller goes into detail about the way in which he maintains his relationship with his brother Jeremiah while Jeremiah is in prison.  Miller talks about the phone cards, correspondence, money, magazine subscriptions, books, etc. necessary for Jeremiah that Miller provides.  Miller includes a list of the groceries that Jeremiah asks for.  Miller talks about the logistics of calling Jeremiah in prison, as well as those of vising Jeremiah.  Miller mentions his fellowship in New Jersey and his life as a professor.  In this chapter, Miller also introduces the reader to Yvette Singleton—a woman who had a lovely singing voice, who is a playwright, a social worker, and a well-known figure in the nonprofit sector in Michigan. Although she had grown up with a loving mother and grandmother, Yvette had been sexually assaulted as a child.  As a teenager, Yvette met a young man with whom she ran away to a town close to the Southern U.S. border—although she thought they were in love and the relationship was consensual, in reality, it was akin to human trafficking and he forced her to work at strip clubs. She escaped from that situation and went back to Michigan.  Yvette was caught with a package of drugs that a man asked her to deliver (this man had been an undercover police officer) and she ended up in prison.  Even after having changed her life for a decade (post-prison) and having been a model citizen, her felony conviction followed her and she was fired from her job.

Chapter 5: In Victory and Spectacular Defeat

In this chapter, Miller starts by talking about the connection of children to prisons—incarcerated children and the prisoners who have minor children.  This leads into a discussion about the foster system and the many Black children who get taken away from their parents.  Many incarcerated parents get their parental rights taken away, as many incarcerated parents are seen as unfit to parent.  Miller talks again about Jimmy.  Jimmy has been in a relationship with Cynthia, to whom he feels some type of debt for having been there for him while he was imprisoned.  Jimmy would not have been with her or continued in a relationship with her had it not been for prison.  Miller introduces the reader to Connie and Daniel.  Connie had been involved in the prison system through her social service work, and she eventually meets Daniel in prison, during her visits and work with incarcerated individuals.  Daniel had been incarcerated as a teenager for having broken into his teacher’s house with his friend Adam—they killed the teacher and Adam raped her.  Daniel became a model prisoner and he and Connie fell in love.  Daniel was released on probation after 30 years and came to live with Connie.  Miller talks about meeting his father, who had been formerly incarcerated.  The chapter ends with a party Miller throws for the individuals who have been helping him in his data collection project for this book.

Chapter 6: Chains and Corpses

In this chapter, the reader finds out that Daniel passed away soon after having been released.  He died of cancer.  Miller mentions that incarcerated people are more likely to contract illnesses and communicable diseases.  Miller goes into detail about Connie and Daniel’s life together after Daniel was released, as well as the impact of Daniel’s death on Connie.  Miller also discusses the marginalization of individuals who have been imprisoned and their social death once they come back to society—whether it be an actual death like Daniel’s or a social death from not being able to reintegrate themselves fully into society.  Miller goes back to Ronald’s story and the details of his appeals process, as well as more details about Ronald’s time in prison.  Miller tells us for the first time that a 14-year-old minor kills Ronald’s son while Ronald is in prison. 

Thank you to the UI College of Law Research Assistant for contributing to the discussion questions for this year's One Community, One Book Virtual Book Club.