Remember my NA series and all those NA Meetings I attended? Well they just now paid off in the form of good time. My release date has been adjusted from 8-9-32 to 3-7-32. I haven’t done the math, but according to DOC, that’s 155 days!
Upon receiving this good news I was also informed that I will be getting back an additional 90 days at my next review in August. All I gotta do is remain infraction free, stay in The Dog Program, and receive positive evaluations.
It feels good to be going the other way. To be earning good time rather than loosing it. To be living in harmony rather than conflict. To be progressing rather than regressing. To be making friends rather than enemies. To be focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
For almost 23 years my environment hasn’t changed. PRISON! It’s still full of misfits and misconduct. But what has changed is my attitude, perspective, outlook, and priorities. During my quest to seek knowledge and understanding I’ve learned that the mind is like a garden. Either you can intelligently Cultivate it, or neglect it and let it run wild. That’s why its crucial for me to constantly cultivate my mind by weeding out all the wrong, useless, destructive, impure thoughts. And nurturing my mind with right, useful, constructive, positive thoughts.
By constantly pursuing this process of mind evolution, I am starting to reap the rewards. Such as: I found my beautiful soulmate in Suzie, I made it to The Honor Unit, I got accepted into the dog program, I’ve met new people and have devolved new friendships, I’m no longer getting in fights or hurting people, and I’m earning back good time. Just to name a few.
For years I allowed my mind to run wild. The results were devastating! For more on the devastation you can read my ebook titled, STONE CITY : LIFE IN THE PENITENTIARY.
I was oblivious to the fact that a deeper level of consciousness existed. I was mindlessly wandering through life, and inappropriately reacting to everything life threw at me. With a neglected mind, I didn’t stand a chance. But with a new and improved cultivated mind, I have so much hope and excitement for today and the rest of my life.
If you had the power to be happier, to change your environment, and to have better relationships with friends and family, would you use that power?
Of course you would!
So why don’t you?
The power is within you.
Take the first step and read : “AS A MAN THINKETH” by James Allen. This book will teach you LAWS OF THOUGHT that cannot error. By reading this quick little 55 page book, you’ll be taking a crucial step towards intelligently cultivating your mind. I hope you feel inspired.
For those who don’t know, IMU stands for “Intensive Management Unit”. It’s basically long term segregation. Some guys spend years, even decades in IMU.
So the question is, “How could a filthy, dirt bag, scum-of-the-earth inmate get a jelly-filled powered donut while in IMU?”
Well the answer is actually easier than you think. All the inmate needs to do is cover his window, cause a disturbance, and refuse to comply with directives until his demands are met.
But he shouldn’t get too crazy with his demands. He should keep it simple and reasonable. For example, he should demand a jelly-filled powered donut. This is more than a reasonable request. The simplicity of this demand should result in success.
It’s a win-win for everyone. The inmate gets happily fed, and the S.E.R.T. squad doesn’t have to suit-up and commit controlled acts of violence.
It makes a lot of economic sense as well. Jelly-filled powered donuts are way cheaper than canisters of pepper spray, and all the extra pay that goes to each and every S.E.R.T. member.
Although this post drips with jelly-like sarcasm and powdery satire, it is based on an actual episode that recently took place here at Stafford Creek. An inmate covered his window and refused to comply with directives until he got a donut.
Prison officials can deal with this in one of two ways:
#1 – They can spray him with pepper spray, bum rush his cell, beat him up, and drag him out. Then uncover his window for him.
#2 – Give him a donut.
What do you think they should do?
Now that I’m learning a little about Occupational Therapy, I feel like it’s giving me a deeper, richer, more thorough understanding of life in general. I reflect back to my days of crime and misconduct, and I see direct parallels to the fact that I had zero to very little meaningful activities in my life.
Today I engage in several meaningful activities. And as a result, I live a healthy lifestyle full of love, compassion, excitement, and happiness. It’s so clear to see that the healthy lifestyle came AFTER I started to engage in meaningful activities.
Early in my incarceration I had a desire to live a healthy lifestyle. I told myself on numerous occasions, “It’s time. Let’s do it!” But time and time again, I’d fail. Why? Because I wasn’t engaging in meaningful activities. The ONLY way to achieve a healthy lifestyle IS to engage in meaningful activities. There’s no other way to do it!
I’m so glad I’m learning this stuff. In addition to the clarity it brings me, it also teaches me effective ways to articulate my journey when mentoring and helping others.
I feel like I’ve done a lot of this work on my own. And just now, I’m starting to learn about it from a clinical standpoint. Which is great! Because the principles and philosophies have been validated before they were recognized.
Now it’s time to continue to learn and build as I use Occupational Therapy (Wikipedia definition). That in itself is a meaningful activity that is essential to a healthy lifestyle.
I’ve learned that in Occupational Therapy there are 7 areas of occupation that people engage in. Some are self explanatory. Some are not. But I feel they are all important to know. By knowing them, I can achieve a better balance in my life. I can do a self evaluation and determine if I’m lacking or over compensating in a specific area. The 7 occupations are:
#1) Activities of Daily Living (ADL) – This refers to basic needs such as eating, showering, hygiene, clothing, sex, etc.
I’m definitely lacking in the sex department. So this is something I need to address in my life. And address it I shall…in March 2017!…EFV’s with my wife, Suzie. 🙂
#2) Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s) – This is the act of caring for my environment, such as ordering my commissary, cleaning my cell, helping my disabled celly, taking care of my dog, turning off the water that people deliberately leave on, etc.
I feel balanced with this one. However, I can do more. A lot of guys don’t clean up after themselves. Therefore, the sink and microwave area is always a mess. From now on, whenever I see a mess, I’ll take 30 seconds and clean it up. Why not? It’ll be good for me.
#3) Education – Participating in a learning environment or learning activities.
I could definitely use more of this. And now that its been brought to my attention, I will actively seek opportunities to engaged in more educational activities. I currently engage in two educational activities: NA Meetings and the Sustainability In Prison lectures.
#4) Leisure – A non-obligatory activity that is engeged in during discretionary time.
I have plenty of leisure activities, such as: blogging, writing Real Love Letters to the love of my life, working out, taking my dog for a walk, reading, etc.
#5) Work – Employment. Making money. Getting paid! Also, volunteer activities.
I do both. Freedom Tails is all volunteer work. And I find it way more rewarding than my actual job. If I had to choose between my “Remunerative Work” and my “Volunteer Work” I would sacrifice my pay and choose my Volunteer work. This just goes to show how rewarding volunteer work really is.
#6) Play – Any activity that provides enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, or diversion.
This is interesting. Because what happens when these adjectives can be applied to work, volunteer, and leisure? All of a sudden, play becomes a dominant meaningful activities in my life. I like that! I’m going to make it happen.
#7) Social Participation – Activities associated with patterns of behavior within a given social system.
Prison is a social system. A lot of misconduct goes on in here. So I’m better off engaging in anti-social participation when it comes to the prison social system as a whole. Another word for “Social Participation” in prison would be “Institutionalized”. This is just one perspective. My reality is: there are sub societies within the overall predominant prison social system.
By conducting myself in a positive, productive manner, and observing The Law of Attraction, I find my self socially participating in a positive mini sub-division within a predominant negative social system. The social participation that I engage in, is strong enough to give me strength to navigate through the negative prison social system without getting caught up in the current of negativity.
Back in 1994, I was in a drunken rage and shot 4 innocent young men. It is only because of their strong will that no one died. I got what I deserved: 43 years in prison. I’ve never appealed it. I’ve never seeked clemency. And I have no desire to be paroled.
I take full responsibility for my actions and I accept my sentence in full. I have about 13 years left to serve. I refuse to take my incarceration in vain. I am determined to match and exceed all my negative behaviors of the past, with present and future actions of love & compassion towards all of humanity.
My crimes of the past has set my bar extremely high for the present and future. As of today, I’m nowhere near where I need to be. I know I can never right my wrongs. But I can and will use it as motivation to give it my very best.
My setback is a 43 year prison term, and the fact that I hurt 4 people and all their friends and families, and all the bystanders and their friends and families, and all of my friends and family. Therefore, my equal seed of opportunity has to be extraordinary. And that’s exactly what I’m striving for.
The consequences of my crime has and will continue to inspire great change.
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!!!
Check out this flyer I just read on the bulletin board:
RESTORE PAROLE IN WASHINGTON STATE
Who are we? We are former and current legislators, friends and families of former and current prisoners, survivors of crime, volunteers in the prison system, representatives of impacted organizations, and community members. We are diverse in cultural and political values, and united in our concern that our justice system be just to all parties and elevate wise compassion over vengeance.
When Washington abolished parole in 1984, it was from a sense of defeat. A belief that nothing works except to lock them up and throw away the key. We have learned a lot since then. NATIONALLY, we have reduced crime and incarceration with the help of:
* Education and other therapeutic interventions for people in prison.
* Better tools for parole boards to evaluate who is safe to release.
* More effective methods of supervising and supporting people after release.
But in Washington, we still cling to disproven “throw away the key” policies. And we pay a heavy price:
* More than 15% of people living in our prisons have life sentences. The National average is 9%.
* Almost half of the lifers are there for non-homicide crimes.
* Prisoners who are 55 years or older has nearly doubled 2001-2011.
* Our criminal justice system is one of the most racially disproportionate in the nation.
* Though crime is down, punishment continues to grow. In 2013, 139,000 Washington adults were incarcerated or under correctional supervision. Those men and women are parents to an estimated 4.5% of our children.
Today there is no process for determining when a prisoner is ready for release. That means many men and women must sit in prison for a decade or more AFTER FULL REHABILITATION is reached. This is long past the point where incarceration makes any sense. And we continue to pay for their unnecessary incarceration at an average annual cost of well over $46,000 per prisoner.
This comes at a time when we don’t even have enough money to fully fund our public schools. Our 15 prisons are full. We can’t afford to continue to house, feed, and guard people who present NO THREAT to public safety. And we can’t afford $250 million to build a new prison that’s already on the drawing board.
Research shows that we can afford to safely reduce the prison population through a parole system. A system of individual review of an individual’s behavior record, risk profile, programming in prison, and community support. The WA Coalition For Parole is working to create the opportunity for parole for those men and women who have clearly demonstrated that they’ve earned it.
WHAT WE CALL FOR
We have carefully and strategically chosen to focus on bringing back parole because:
* Parole will do more than any other reform to make our prisons safer, leaner, and more efficient by restoring hope and the motivation for change.
* Parole will save taxpayers millions of dollars that are now wasted warehousing people long after they have aged out of crime.
* Parole will allow the $250 million needed to build a new prison to be invested in the solution such as education and other social programs.
* Parole will make our community safer by determining which individuals are safe to release.
PLEASE JOIN US
Email – Info@WACoalitionForParole.org
PO Box 9971
Seattle, WA. 98109
All of my poems are a reflection of how I was feeling at that time. Certain feelings inspire certain words. On 10-29-13, I was inspired by my amazing wife and our beautiful love (see: The Power of Love). So I grabbed my pen and paper and wrote this poem:
FOCUS ON LOVE
Life is a mixture of joy and pain,
blue skies, dark clouds, sunshine and rain.
All days can’t be bright, this we know is true,
what you choose to focus on is always up to you.
Seek out the positive in your life and cherish every day,
focus on the things you love and your blues will fade away.
Show a smile instead of a frown,
look up instead of down.
Shine your light a little brighter,
and watch your burdens get so much lighter.
Life is good life is great,
focus on love ignore the hate.
If you live in love with a heart that’s true,
then love will reflect in all you do.
And when love reflects in all you do,
it takes from the time of feeling blue.
* * *
If I knew back then what I know now…I wouldn’t be in prison. Early on in life I was on a dark path that lead to destructive behavior. Violence, suffering, hate, turmoil, conflict…they were all a constant theme in my life. As a result, my writing reflected that.
This next poem was written during my middle school years. There is no title. It says:
Now I lay myself to sleep,
I pray to hell my soul will keep.
No one knows what I plan to do,
but you’ll find out when life is through.
Through for who is what I wonder,
but you’ll find out 6 feet under.
As I read this today I shake my head in disbelief. I was around 12 years old when I wrote that! I could easily shed a tear right now. Left to my own demise, I didn’t stand a chance.
As I reflect back to my childhood, I can remember a re-occurring statement that teachers, principals, coaches, and other adults would say. They’d say that I was going to end up dead or in prison.
The first time I heard the “prison” version, I was in the 3rd grade.
The first time I heard the “dead” version, I was in the 9th grade.
Sure enough, I escaped death only to land in prison. Considering my options, I got lucky.
Even after I got locked up, my mindset didn’t change very much.
Here is a poem I wrote back in 1994, just 6 months after I arrived at the Snohomish County Jail. It’s called “Who’s Lucky” because that’s what I used to ask myself every time someone pissed me off in the jail. Am I lucky because I have a release date? Or is he lucky that I have a release date? The poem goes like this:
People are lucky I have a release date,
or taking a life I wouldn’t even hesitate.
I’m already in jail paying a price,
I often times wonder why am I so nice?
Hatred and violence run through my veins,
murderous thoughts invades through my brain.
I use to think my thoughts were something I’d inflict,
now I see without thinking my thoughts come out sick.
I feel like killing for little or no reason,
look at me wrong and your death would be pleasen.
And for all you punks who talk too loud,
I like watching your blood drip like drops from a cloud….
with a big fat shank piercing through your gut,
dying slowly, you deserve what you got.
By all means don’t cross my path,
if you’re a punk ass bitch who won’t take a bath.
You’re better off staying in your cell,
because your life will expire if I get one smell.
When I was drinking these thoughts I’d be thinking,
but now that I’m sober it’s starting to sink in……
That maybe I was born with blood to kill,
because every thought that I get is way too real.
Today I wouldn’t have the slightest desire to write such non sense.
Behind all the mental madness, there was a little place of peace and love. Here’s a poem that shows a glimpse of sunshine in the midst of a storm. It was written in August 1996:
LOOK FOR HAPPY THINGS
Look for happy things in life if you desire peace,
appreciate all that’s done for you and watch your love increase.
Things like a loving gentle smile or sincere words of cheer,
a sunrise or the precious time when twinkling stars appear.
Seek out the good in people and cast errors to the side,
fill your heart with love because that’s where good resides.
Drink in soul deep pleasure that nature gives to all,
enjoy the beauty of a rock bound shore or a cascading waterfall.
And do not forget the value of just a humble prayer,
it doesn’t matter where you are because God is everywhere.
Open your heart to children they fill this life with bliss,
who can deny the love of a baby’s tender kiss?
I hope you see just what I mean, look for happy things,
If you do that, then you’ll have love within a heart that sings.
PS – Dear Readers, I thought twice about sharing these violent poems with you. I wish to be transparent about my transformation and my journey. Would you rather I didn’t share violent poems on my blog? Let me know. Thank you.
The year: 2010
Location: Coyote Ridge Correction Center (WA)
Coyote Ridge has TV’s in the dayroom. So when the Huskies play, the convicts gather. Emotions run high as people root for their teams. And for those who are gambling, emotions are intensified.
On this day, the Huskies are losing. The game is basically over. That’s when the heckling and trash talking begins.
“The Washington Huskies suck!” shouts a hater. He continues, “All Washington teams suck!”
G-man turns to the hater and says, “Keep talking smack and I’ll knock you out.”
The hater reply’s, “You got the easy part done. Knocking me out would be like the Huskies winning a game. It ain’t gonna happen. BOY!!!”
The negative trash talking goes back and forth for several minutes.
As soon as the hater fixed his eyes back on the TV, G-man slowly walked up to him and punched him as hard as he could. The blow landed directly on his temple. The hater was knocked out cold.
“I warned you. BOY!!!” G-man spats.
As he laid on the dirty dayroom floor, everyone was waiting for him to wake up. As the minutes ticked by, ol boy just laid there. It was soon evident that he wasn’t going to get up any time soon. Finally a guard walked by and saw him.
After about 30 minutes of laying on the floor, he was loaded on a stretcher and carried to medical. From there an ambulance came and took him to the local hospital where he remained unresponsive.
By the time his family was notified and arrived at the hospital, he was on life support. Several weeks went by before his family made the difficult decision to pull the plug.
G-man was charged with murder and will now spend the rest of his life in prison.
MORAL: Nothing good comes from negative behavior.
The hater and G-man were constantly saying rude things and stirring up strife. They were constantly involved in arguments and drama.
The law of attraction brought these two together. The universe responded to the constant negative energy of these men. I see it every day. It usually doesn’t result in murder, but it could.
The most common effects are pain, suffering, stress, grief, anger and constant turmoil. The law of attraction is simple. If you want a better life, be a better person. Display acts of kindness. Express love, compassion, and understanding.
I’ve lived on both sides of the spectrum. And without question, my life is so much better when I live under a halo of peace, love, and harmony.