The Honor Unit

 

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I moved to this unit because I wanted to get away from all the hate, disrespect, politics, and negativity.

When I read the flyer that described the honor unit, it said things like: honor, respect, dignity, positive living, mentoring, etc.

Yes, there are a handful of men in this unit who respect those values. But I am extremely surprised at the large number of men who make ZERO effort.

Since I have been in this unit I have seen inmates cuss at and disrespect staff. I see guys stealing from the chow hall. I see guys gambling left and right. The bathrooms are worse than other units. The floors are constantly covered with piss. Then I see several guys with their feet up on the stools we sit on. NO RESPECT!

The sinks have hair, whiskers, and food left in them. I am constantly cleaning up after those who don’t.

I do it because I honor the rules and expectations in this unit. I look for ways to go above and beyond.

Just the other day some guy came up to me and said, “You have too many sex offenders on your team. Take me off the roster.”

I said, “No problem…done.”

Then he felt the need to continue by saying, “Your entire outfield is sex offenders. I could maybe deal with one, but damn, I’m not trying to play with a bunch of sex offenders.”

A couple guys at a nearby table found his comment funny as they laughed.

I started to feel attacked. My adrenalin gave me a quick jolt! I felt an old familiar sensation. The same sensation I use to feel before I would lash out.

I almost said something crazy. Like, F#*k you! I’m not a sex offender! You weak mother-fu#*ers…go say something to their faces.”

But I didn’t. I have learned from my past. That type of behavior doesn’t serve me well. It’s not who I am & it’s not who I want to be.

So I ignored them the best I could. I said, “I understand your decision.” And I walked away.

I went to my cell and prayed for guidance & strength. I meditated. I calmed myself. I focused on my priorities and goals.

I concluded that I don’t care about what people are in here for. My goal is to treat all people with dignity and respect. I do that so I may have inner peace. Love and compassion serves me well. Hate and turmoil has never served me well.

I know who the guys are that now look at me funny because there just so happens to be a few sex offenders on my team. I now go out of my way to say kind words to them. I treat them with dignity and respect. Not because they deserve it, but because I deserve it.

Even here in the Honor Unit, prison politics run deep. Heck I was even told by a few inmates that I couldn’t sit at certain tables in the dayroom. Because those are THEIR tables! Ten years ago I would’ve smashed their faces and sit anywhere I want. I’ve gone to the hole for assaulting sex offenders.

Today I use all these encounters to strengthen my faith in LOVE and COMPASSION. If I live a life based on love & compassion, then even my enemies will be at peace with me. It’s only a matter of time before the universe responds.

This is equally true with the good and the bad. I’m done being the one that responds to negativity with negativity. Those guys will get theirs.

And I’ll get mine…in the form of LOVE…beautiful, sweet LOVE!!!

 

 

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Steven Jennings

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5 comments

  1. Alison and Don

    Boy Steven, you just keep doing it don’t you! Finding that courage, and space within yourself to make a choice, *right in the moment*! It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. So often we react spontaneously from anger and fear, especially when we’re feeling attacked, and then afterwards wish we’d handled it differently. It sounds as if you are mastering the art of quiet response no matter the circumstances. So impressive!
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maria McLean

    Steven I love reading your blog. God says to love our enemy and it sounds like you are putting forth that effort.I am proud of you and I know Our Heavenly Father is too 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael Moore

    Powerful witness my friend! I have a friend who has been given that label and has to deal with so much hatred and fear. By simply showing the love of Christ, you go a long ways in offering healing and hope in a world that judges, condemns, and rarely truly forgives.

    Another friend is active in a ministry that goes inside the walls of prison. Kairos is the ministry and they offer a Christian weekend retreat that has truly helped transform Holman Prison’s Death Row in Alabama. Amazing what God’s love and grace can do!

    It is an honor to meet you and pray with you!

    Liked by 1 person

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