Redemption Road: The saga of Stephen Reid

This story was originally published in The Vancouver Sun on March 29, 2014

I find myself stripped bare, beaten back from hope, all out of illusions, in yet another prison cell. Having fallen through the crust of this earth so many times, it seems only on this small and familiar pad of concrete, where I can make seven steps in one direction, then take seven back, do my feet touch down with any certainty.

— Stephen Reid, from A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden

Certainty, for Stephen Reid, is available only in the confined space of a jail cell. Liberty comes with its own price: uncertainty. The acclaimed author — and notorious bank robber — was released from prison in February, and is now on parole. At 64, he is going about the uncertain business of beginning again.

Living in a federal halfway house in Victoria, Reid gets up in the morning at about six or seven and heads up the street to a coffee shop that has Wi-Fi, where he can respond to email and poke around on Facebook. He recently shared a photo of veal-fattening pens. In the photo only the cells are visible — grey and orderly as tombstones, but the animals trapped inside are hidden. It’s a cruelty that bothers him deeply, another certainty, these invisible souls that will never be freed.

Yesterday was a good day, he explains over the phone from Victoria. He went to the home of his daughter Charlotte. She has been away in Mexico with her four-year-old twins for a month. He wanted to set the place right before her return. He worked on the yard, raked away the debris of winter, fixed up the woodshed, lit a bonfire to burn off the dead branches.

Stopwatch gang members Lionel Wright, left, and Stephen Reid, captured on a …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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