Jeffrey Skilling is the former Enron exec best known for the multiple felonies he committed which led to his company’s downfall. He is currently serving a 24-year sentence for those crimes. A recent appeal he made could reduce the sentence, but such a prospect is likely far from his mind today.
For Jeffrey Skilling just learned that his 20-year-old son, John Taylor, was found dead. Edgefield Federal Prison officials were likely the ones who delivered Skilling the bleak news.
Forbes blogger Walter Pavlo reports that the death of John Taylor Skilling, who went by J.T., is being described as a drug overdose. Pavlo has a unique perspective of the situation. You see, Pavlo, himself, is a white-collar criminal. He actually did his time in Edgefield Federal Prison, just like Skilling. In today’s post, he reflects upon the time he witnessed an inmate receive the tragic news of a child’s passing.
An inmate I knew was handcuffed by a few guards and told he had a meeting with the warden. He looked confused and wondered what he had done wrong. As we all peeked out the window we could see an administrator speaking with him and found out that the message he was receiving was that his 19 year old son had hanged himself. His knees buckled as they carried him away to a solitary cell to monitor him and prevent him from harming himself or others. He stayed there for 2 days before he assured staff that he was fine to return to general population.
Any parent who loses a child suffers from a grief that is impossible to explain. I watched with a broken heart as my 82-year-old mom put a spadeful of dirt on my sister’s casket this past October.
That said, there must be an even greater emotional toll on incarcerated parents whose wrongdoings likely add a layer of guilt to what is already an infinite amount to begin with.
Pavlo’s experiences left him with the following speculation:
Skilling… will feel guilty for is not being there for his son in a situation when going to his father for advice may have saved his life. Not being there for your family is an unbearable punishment in prison.
While I have no sympathy whatsoever for Skilling when it comes to his white-collar crimes, I have all the sympathy in the world for him at having to live every parent’s nightmare. From behind bars at that.