A Different Kind of Cell

We have just completed (February 4th) reading A Different Kind of Cell: The Story of a Murderer Who Became a Monk.  While the title didn’t seem  to offer anything more than a potential script for a James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson  1950’s film, it proved to be a very challenging biography. It is the story of Clayton Fountain, a man convicted to prison for the murder of five people.  Written by Rev. W. Paul Jones, a family brother at Assumption Abbey in Missouri, it describes the transformation Clayton experienced while in solitary confinement.  The drama portrays not only his conversion, but the incredulity and disbelief his conversion  continually encountered.  Even Jones, who began an acquaintance with him in 1995, entitled one chapter: From Skepticism to Friendship.  He had established relationships with the monks of Assumption Abbey and was accepted as a family brother there, although he was never able to see the monastery. The book raises questions about a penal system which seems to thwart any attempts at rehabilitation and denies the very possibility of someone not deemed worthy of continued existence experiencing a transforming conversion through God’s grace.