Monday, February 14, 2011

Books on Consignment - Prison Ministries

What if we sent your group 36 "Serving Time, Serving Others" and 24 "Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul" -- That's how full boxes ship.

Then your group can sell them for $15 each or whatever you decide. Then pay us $5 for each book sold and return the rest (in sellable condition) to us here in Delaware. That way your group won't end up with books you really don't need. Your group would pay shipping and handling for the books to be shipped to you, and your group would pay the shipping costs for any returns to Delaware.

Interested persons may call Tom at 302-545-4261 or e-mail: to arrange.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What People Are Say About
Serving Productive Time

“Your book, Serving Productive Time, is an extremely helpful book. Seeing the obvious relief other inmates have achieved by writing the various letters and poems in your books have led me to utilize the same outlet. The amount of relief I have felt and the weight lifted from me is indescribable. The honest and true letters I have sent home at the advice of your books have without a doubt closed the gap on the distance between myself and my family and strengthened our bond while helping achieve the support needed on both sides during these trying times.”
Lackawanna County Prison
Scranton, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Steel and Concrete Christmas

In memory of our contributing author, Rod Carter:
A Steel and Concrete Christmas
from “Serving Productive Time” (for a pdf version, see: )

It was the beginning of a three-and-a-half-year bit. I’d be spending my first Christmas in prison at age seventeen. As the judge at my trial said, “Slow down, young man!”

Prison provided me with the opportunity for introspection. Looking inward I thought, If I’m going to get out of prison and stay out, I need to make some changes.

Spending Christmas with five hundred guys can be brutal. Initiating festivities through seasonal flourishes, like Christmas trees, wreaths, or songs with stirring lyrics, was next to impossible.

The cell block was two tiers high. Each of the thirty cells had a bed, toilet, sink, desk, and chair, all in moldy green or queasy yellow. Our gray shirts and sand-colored pants were an ideal contrast to the navy blue staff uniforms. Over time, this lackluster sea of mind-numbing colors produced sensory deprivation.

The prison was home to cons serving out their allotted sentences. The usual tension mellowed at Christmas as an unofficial truce was struck between cons and officers. Some inmates and officers even went so far as to break the code of “No Fraternization Between Staff and Prisoners” to shake hands and converse. On any other day of the year, this would have been considered dangerous.

God showed no intention of neglecting us in this hostile environment. It was Christmas in prison—not merry, but Christmas nonetheless. Allow me to introduce you to a few of the guys who lived on my block.

René, a muscular French Canadian, was tattooed and scarred from head to toe from prison scrapes, street fights, and involuntary arrests. Closing in on forty, he tended to leave most of the squabbles to younger cons. Once he told me, “I’m like the old baseball pitcher. I throw as hard as I ever did, but it doesn’t go as fast.” Like most old pitchers, warriors, and convicts, René recognized the fact that he was no longer at the top of his game. He found a pen with his name on it and began writing his memoirs; he wrote himself right out of prison. René discovered salvation through a ballpoint pen. He eventually published his autobiography and received the governor general’s award for best Canadian book of the year.

Chris, a fine-looking, athletic man in his twenties, was into sports and excelled at baseball. He combed his dark hair straight back. His case received national attention. At fourteen years old, he had been the youngest person in Canada to be sentenced to the death penalty. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. The institution arranged to place him in a stable workshop and to be lodged in a cell on a range that housed younger, less volatile inmates.

A few of the older officers had taken Chris under their wing, probably because they saw something within him that resembled their own children. They unofficially adopted Chris. No doubt that humanitarian act saved him from various assaults or worse. Because these officers, like many other Canadians, were convinced of Chris’s innocence, they were willing to take risks on his behalf. Several years later, Chris was released, changed his name, and relocated to a new province. He was released in the middle of the night to thwart roving news reporters. He married and lives an exemplary life.

I never saw him again, but I admire him for the Christmases he survived inside. Chris used to man the prison radio booth in the evenings. I appreciated when he’d play Bob Dylan’s music; those songs kept us connected with the community to which we would one day return.

D.J. paced inside his cell. As I looked in on him that Christmas morning, he was walking in circles, stopping on occasion to gaze at his mother’s photo. She had died in prison. He spent his childhood traveling through foster homes. As a troubled teenager, D.J. often spent time in jail. When I first entered prison, he took care of me, seeing that I had tobacco and papers until my first canteen arrived.

An important resource in my inner journey was our padre, a silver-haired former paratrooper. He established a special rapport with all of us, speaking each Sunday about responsibility, reconciliation, remorse, repentance, restoration, redemption, restitution, rebirth, and resurrection; they were lofty concepts, but when the padre spoke, we understood. Some of us grabbed hold of these concepts and began integrating them into our lives. Prison was a tough testing ground for practicing these principles.

The padre organized a Christmas Eve service. He recounted the Nativity with deep emotion and solemnity, and then we went back to our lonely cells. I wrote a letter home telling my parents about “the goodie bag” the prison gave us, which included butterscotch mints and a Christmas cake.

About 9:00 PM, D.J. lifted his harmonica and began playing “Silent Night.” His music guided us to a foreign town in another time. The cell block teetered on the edge of something supreme.

Although we were in prison, Christmas and its sacredness were not. We wept alone, because that’s done in private. That evening, no one screamed out in nightmare anguish. We slept soundly. That Christmas was simple and stunning, revolutionary and reverent.

A Steel and Concrete Christmas. Reprinted by permission of Rod Carter. © 2007, 2008 Rod Carter from the book “Serving Productive Time: Stories, Poems, and Tips to Inspire Positive Change from Inmates, Prison Staff, and Volunteers” by Tom Lagana and Laura Lagana. See website:

Rod Carter was the director of the Restorative Justice Program at Queen’s Theological College. He was formerly regional chaplain for the Correctional Service of Canada for five years. An ex-offender, he received a criminal pardon in 1977. He is a contributing author in “Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul,” “Serving Productive Time,” and “Serving Time, Serving Others.” He died in his sleep in May 2010.

For special discounts on our books, please e-mail:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Book Special
Serving Time, Serving Others

While supplies last, correctional staff and volunteers may request a box of “Serving Time, Serving Others: Acts of Kindness by Inmates, Prison Staff, Victims, and Volunteers.”

For the box of 36 books, pay only $99, which includes shipping and handling within the contiguous USA.

For additional details and to arrange, please call 302-475-4825 or e-mail:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What People Are Say About
Serving Productive Time

I’m 18 years old and just finished reading your book “Serving productive Time.” I'm writing to say your book has helped me. I was arrested at the age of 16, and I am serving a 23-year sentence. I’ve lived a crazy life style since I was about 12 years old. I guess you could call it a “thug life.” I’ve been involved with gangs, drugs, guns, and much more. I have really wanted to be able to help troubled kids, so they don’t end up like me. I know what it’s like firsthand to be involved in the street life and also to go through the stress, pain, and sadness of being locked up. I would love to help kids understand how important it is to stay focused on the positive. I know what it’s like to see your loved ones hurt. Me and my family have shed tens of thousands of tears due to my actions. I guess I’m asking for your help to help me get my word out to these kids. Nobody and no family should have to go through this, especially kids.
Washington State Penitentiary
Walla Walla, Washington

Friday, October 29, 2010

Books for Prisoners

Attn: Chaplains, Counselors, Librarians, and Volunteers

While supplies last, correctional staff, volunteers, and sponsors may request a box of “Serving Time, Serving Others: Acts of Kindness by Inmates, Prison Staff, Victims, and Volunteers.” For the box of 36 books, pay only $99. This offer is available for shipments within the contiguous US and payable by check or money order. No purchase orders or credit cards for this offer. For additional details and to arrange, please call 302-475-4825 or e-mail:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Books for Inmates, Staff, and Volunteers

Attn: Chaplains, Counselors, Librarians, and Volunteers

Please share the following with anyone willing to help us fund and distribute more of our books to inmates, prison staff, and volunteers. Also ask about our seminar “A Winning Recipe for Success Behind Bars.”

Note: If your needs or budgets do not fit within the parameters of the following offers, let us know what your working budget is, and we'll let you know what is possible. Thanks.

These offers expire January 18, 2011.

Option A -- Order 18 Serving Time, Serving Others at $13 each = $234
With the above order, you will also receive another 18 of same title for FREE:
36 books = $234 ($6.50 per book)

Option B -- Order 36 Serving Time, Serving Others at $13 each = $468
With the above order, you will also receive the following for FREE:
24 books -- Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul
60 books = $468 ($7.80 per book)

Option C -- Order 36 Serving Time, Serving Others at $13 each = $468
With the above order, you will also receive the following for FREE:
33 books – Serving Productive Time (new in 2009)
69 books = $468 ($6.72 per book)

Option D -- Order 36 Serving Time, Serving Others at $15 each = $540
With the above order, you will also receive the following for FREE:
33 books - Serving Productive Time (new in 2009)
and 24 books -- Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul
93 books = $540 ($5.80 per book)

The above offers include shipping and handling within the Continental USA by standard ground transportation. For books shipped to Canada, Hawaii, and Alaska, add $50 per box.

Purchase order and credit cards are possible. Make check or money order, payable to "Success Solutions" and mail to:
Success Solutions - Book Order
PO Box 7816
Wilmington DE 19803

E-mail your request to:

Continued Blessings,
Co-author "Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul,"
"The Quick and Easy Guide to Project Management,"
"Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul" and "Serving Time, Serving Others"
and now "Serving Productive Time”
Tom Lagana ~~ (302) 475-4825 -- PO Box 7816, Wilmington, DE 19803 ~~
"Tom is a professional speaker, trainer, engineer, consultant, and author
. . . helping people become their best."