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.
On Thursday December 1st, DOC spent $18K to shakedown two units. DOC brought extra guards in by the buss load! Literally.
The first unit they hit was G UNIT. The dog program is in that unit. So at about 10 am, a guard brought me Sam from G UNIT. Sam is a two year old Husky/Shepard mix. We spent the day playing and getting to know each other.
Sam is an awesome dog, and he’s looking for a forever home. For more information on how to adopt, please read: Adopting A Dog.
I was expecting to give Sam back at 3:30pm. But to my surprise, he spent the night with my celly (Jesse Bailey) and I. The next morning, we got raided! Sam went back to G UNIT, and all of H3 (my unit), went to the gym. There we sat for 9 hours while our cells were getting TORE UP!
Some cells got hit harder than others. I was actually surprised that my cell didn’t get hit that hard. Everything was moved around, but they didn’t dump everything on the floor like they did others.
These shakedowns are to be expected. I mean after all, this is prison. But the interview tactics was out of line! As we all sat in the gym, DOC conducted interviews with everyone. Or should I say, they interrogated everyone.
As soon as I walked in the little office, the lead investigator looked at me from above his glasses and simply said, “Sit down!”
I said, “Yes sir” and sat.
He asked, “Are there drugs in the unit?”
I said, “I’m sure there is. This is prison.”
He asked, “Who has them?”
I said, “I don’t know. I’m not in that scene.”
He said, “Don’t lie to me. You live in that unit and you know where its at!”
I said, “Sir, I understand your position and objective. But I can’t tell you what I don’t know.”
He responded, “So if you knew, you’d tell me?”
That’s when I got philosophical with him. I said, “What’s done in the darkness will eventually be brought to light. Guys that come in here and tell, eventually get exposed. And that in itself presents a whole host of problems that often turns out worse than a guy sitting in his cell getting high.”
He says nothing as he jots down notes on his pad.
I continue, “So with all due respect, let’s just focus on me and what I’m doing.”
That’s when he says, “You’re getting high. I’m ordering that extra attention be paid to your cell. I’m also ordering that you get tested for drug use.”
I’m thinking, man, this dude is hardcore! I feel myself taking offense. Then all of a sudden, The Four Agreements pop into my head. I remember the second agreement: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY.
At that moment I start to relax and realize this guy is just doing his job and he views me as a number. He doesn’t care about me or my journey. He’s just doing his job and I just so happen to be within his line of work. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
He quickly snaps back, “That doesn’t mean anything!”
I quietly say, “To me it does.”
Then he asks, “Who do you run with?”
I reply, “No one. But I associate with all types of people.”
“Does that include the White Boys?” he asks.
It would be so easy to be a smart-allic to this guy, and at times I’m tempted. But I stay composed and answer his questions as he attempts to put his own twist on things.
I say, “Yes. And it includes my Black friends, my Native American friends, my Asian friends, and my Mexican friends.”
As he’s interrogating me, he’s looking at a computer screen, reading some type of inaccurate information on me. At least I assume it’s inaccurate, based on his line of questioning.
He asks me, “Do you sit with all these different races in the chow hall?”
I tell him, “Yes.”
He asks me, “How do the White Boys feel about that?”
I tell him, “I’ve never went around asking, but I assume it’s just like anything else in life…some hate it, some like it, and some don’t care.”
Then he asks me, “Have you ever been affiliated with the Skinheads?”
Have you ever been affiliated with the AF (Arian Family)?
“Have you ever attended any Asatru meetings or European events?”
“Nope. But I have attended Native American Pow Wows and Cinco De Mayo celebrations.”
“Let me see your tattoos,” he demands.
“I don’t have any,” I say.
He says, “Either you willingly show me your tattoos or else I’ll strip search you, then write you up you for lying to staff.”
“If I had tattoos I’d gladly show you. But I don’t have any.”
Silence filled the room.
His entire line of questioning was an attempt to tie me to STG (security threat groups) and make me out to be a racist. (please read: Prison Ink: The Art of Hate)
As silence filled the room, he continued to read from the computer. So I took it upon myself to give him some more unsolicited insight on myself.
I said, “I know I’ve done wrong in the past. I’m ashamed and remorseful for all that. Today I’m a rehabilitated man. I treat all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their race, religion, or crime. I don’t use drugs or alcohol and I always try my best to do the right thing.”
He continues to read and says nothing.
Then to my surprise, he took off his glasses, looked me in the eye, and said, ”Thank you for your time Mr. Jennings. And good luck to you in the future. We’re done here.”
I was shocked! WTF just happened?
As I stood up, he stood up. Then he extended his hand. I felt uncomfortable shaking it. Because this is where all the snitches conduct their business. And this is the man they conduct their business with. But I have a clear conscious. I’m not a snitch. And I haven’t done anything wrong. So I shook his hand and said, ”Thank you sir” as I walked out the door.
For more on this crazy day, please read my celly’s perspective in a post he wrote on Stone City Blog called: SHAKEDOWN (the drug raid)
And oh, just so you know, they never did UA me.
Or strip search me.
Or pay special attention to my cell.
Did he grope women and make inappropriate comments?
Is he a perfect human?
So let me ask you: How has Donald Trump’s misconduct personally affected you?
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, supports sooo many failed policies (foreign and domestic), is and has been part of the corrupt landscape in Washington D.C., and is responsible for the massacre in Benghazi. She lies, she’s corrupt, and she IS part of the problem. She HAS affected you…in a negative way. Believe that.
SO WHY NOT TRUMP? What do we have to loose? The United States of America is failing on sooo many levels.
No one thought Trump would win.
That is your first clue that the man can work miracles. He can do amazing things that has never been done before. Don’t underestimate your new President. Support him and give him a fair chance to make America great again.
If he can win the presidency of the United States, then he can protect our borders, fix our economy, defeat terrorism, revamp education and healthcare.
Donald J. Trump will do more for America in 8 years, than Hillary Clinton could do in a lifetime. Watch!
CONGRATULATIONS MR. TRUMP!!!
NOW GO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
There is a perception that jails and prisons are doubling as mental health institutions.
Perception is reality. As I look around the dayroom I see a variety of inmates with mental health issues. The severity of their issues range from mild to extreme. For the most part, everyone in prison has some type of mental health issue. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in prison. So yes, mental health and prison go hand in hand.
So how bad are the mental health issues in prison? I say, not that bad. All things considered, it’s to be expected.
Most of these men are exactly where they belong. But because the criminal justice system is so massive, there is a margin of error. There are a handful of men in prison who should be in a mental institution. And vise versa, there are men in mental institutions who should be in prison.
For the most part, the system gets it right. I wouldn’t classify the mishaps as a massive problem.
The bottom line is, these men are a threat to society. They hurt, kill, and victimize people. They need to be removed from society. Whether they go to a mental health institution, or prison, that is for the courts to decide. If the courts get it wrong, that is of little consequence. Just as long as they are off the streets and society is safer. That’s what matters.
For those who can be rehabilitated and re-enter society as a law abiding citizen, good for them. Those people come from both…prisons and mental health institutions. So it’s not so much about the type of institution as it is about the mind of the individual.
I will say that being mentally sick is no excuse for any crime. If someone commits a crime and they are so mentally ill to where they don’t know right from wrong, they still need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Especially if it’s a violent crime. Lock them up in prison, or a mental health institution.
Some people disagree. Why? Because he’s mentally ill?
So what now? Let him go free? So he can go hurt or kill someone else?
Put him in prison or a mental health institution. Which one…I don’t care. Just get him off the streets. What he does from there, is up to him. If he doesn’t have the mental capacity to ever get better, then he dies in an institution.
Sometimes reality is sad and harsh. But life goes on. And the main focus should always remain on keeping law abiding citizens SAFE from criminals and the mentally ill.
This is an interesting topic. Keep the discussion going by utilizing the comment section.
This is a poem I wrote 14 years ago in November of 2002. As I go back and read some of my older poems, I contemplate whether or not I should share them. And if I do share them, should I edit them? Naw, I’ll just give it to you how it is. Here goes:
THE SKY IS BEAUTIFUL
The sky is beautiful, pure is the air,
the world is ugly and so damn unfair.
So I stare…
up into the peaceful blue,
f#@k this place and f#@k you too!
But I don’t feel like this when I’m up in a bliss,
where rainbows hug and clouds kiss.
Visions of life make up the o-zone,
as I look up from down here, I see it’s all gone.
Standing on the earth,
wondering what its all worth.
Looking in the sky,
is it where we go when we die?
Then why….am I already there,
locked in a vision with a cold dead stare.
Don’t trip on me because I’m tripping on this,
most points will hit, others will miss.
But that’s cool,
I’ll be the fool.
Or perhaps I’m a little too deep,
and the road to my mind is a little too steep,
I live my best hours in my sleep.
In my sleep I see in the sky,
instead of blue it’s black like when we die.
So what’s my point, what am I saying,
that life is better when our body’s decaying?
I don’t know, it kinda seems that way,
live my life and see what you say.
When living in the skies is your best damn times,
or the hours you spend when you close your eyes.
Or you could come on down and do it like this:
always be pissed,
constantly hurting over things you miss,
Its not living, you simply exist…
in a shadow of crime,
always doing time,
every second of the day,
but that’s not the case I’m happy to say…
Simply because I do it my way,
elevating up to where the birds play,
and loving the darkness at the end of my day.
The sky is beautiful, pure is the air,
the world is ugly and so damn unfair.
As a juvenile, I served 18 months at Green Hill. I was out for 14 months before I put myself in prison with a 43 year sentence. Approximately 80% of the kids at Green Hill end up in prison. So I asked myself, “What would it take to significantly reduce that number?”
The answer is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Drastic means requires drastic measures. Here’s my proposal:
Once the juvenile has been found guilty, sentence him to 20 years in prison. Send him to a Maximum security prison full of violent convicts. Make his prison stay uncomfortable and scary. Make this juvenile believe that this is his life for the next 20 years!
But really, its just an elaborate deterrent program that the juvenile knows nothing about. In reality, he gets 18 months (or whatever his juvenile sentence calls for). But he doesn’t know that. He thinks there was some bogus clause in the sentencing guidelines that allowed the judge to give him 20 years in an adult maximum security prison.
As for the Maximum security prison and convicts, they’re in on it too. It’s a specially designed program in a designated section of the prison. Everything is controlled and designed to truly reach these “unreachable” out-of-control juveniles.
As his actual sentence of 18 months starts to wind down, he gets a letter from the court that says he won his appeal. This will serve as an exit strategy that will release the juvenile without exposing the program.
WHY THIS PROGRAM WOULD BE WIDELY EFFECTIVE
You can lecture a juvenile until your blue in the face, and you still won’t reach them. Some things they need to experience for themselves. NOTHING could reach these ”at risk” juveniles the way this program could.
When I was at Green Hill I knew 80% of us would end up in prison. Green Hill is where I learned of that statistic. But who cares? I was the other 20%. So I spent my 18 months kicking it with Crips, Bloods, BGD’s, and thugs. I smoked weed, dropped acid, drank pruno, lied, cheated, stole, and fought. I sold drugs and cigarettes. Green Hill was the absolute worst for me! I came out WAY WORSE than when I went in. I only wish there was an effective deterrent program, like the one I just mentioned. Because I know without a doubt, if it’s done right, it will save juveniles from a life of incarceration.
Please read: How To Engage Those Who Continue With Misconduct
I was asked by Sandra Rogers, “What is your opinion about privatization of prisons in the U.S.?”
Based on my personal experience, it was quite enjoyable. From 2004-2009, I was transferred 5 times, to four different private prisons in three states. While in those facilities I had: Xboxes, Play Station 2’s, cellphones, porn, and anything else I wanted.
For more on my private prison tour, please read my ebook called, Stone City : Life In The Penitentiary. This ebook is full of pictures I took with my cellphone, raw and uncensored. Viewer discretion is advised.
My opinion on private prisons: They are bad for inmates. They breed corruption. They are full of misconduct. Most the staff are corrupt. The majority of rules are not enforced. There is a high turn over of staff. Most staff view their job as menial, whereas most DOC staff make their career in corrections. The staff in private prisons are under-trained and under-paid.
Most inmates would rather be in a private prison because they can get away with an absurd amount of misconduct. I knew of an inmate who had sexual relations with two female guards, one on first shift the other on second shift. And they didn’t know about each other until someone told.
I also knew of a female guard who had sexual relations with several inmates at one time. Only in private prisons have I seen such gross misconduct on a massive scale.
Here’s a little factual history on private prisons, according to Bryan Stevenson, author of the New York Times bestseller, “Just Mercy.” He says:
“Spending on jails and prisons by state and federal governments has risen from $6.9 billion in 1980 to nearly $80 billion today. Private prison builders and prison service companies have spent millions of dollars to persuade state and local governments to create new crimes, impose harsher sentences, and keep more people locked up so that they can earn more profits. Private profits has corrupted incentives to improve public safety, reduce the cost of mass incarceration, and most significantly, promote rehabilitation of the incarcerated. State governments have been forced to shift funds from public services, education, health, and welfare to pay for incarceration, and they now face unprecedented economic crises as a result. The privatization of prison health care, prison commerce, and a range of services has made mass incarceration a money-making windfall for a few and a costly nightmare for the rest of us.”
My bottom line is: Private prisons are bad and should not exist. People should not be getting rich from mass incarceration. Period.
It’s easy to identify those who will re-offend and come back to prison vs. those who will get out and be successful. So why not implement programs that REALLY focus on the 66% who will re-offend? In order to identify those who will re-offend vs. those who will stay out, I have randomly selected and interviewed 2 inmates.
Here’s an interview I did with a guy who will come back to prison:
Paul is a 35 year old white male.
He’s been in and out of prison 4 times.
He currently has 2 years left before he gets out.
His rap sheet is long: robbery, burglary, I.D. theft, possession of stolen property, possession of stolen vehicle, eluding, etc. And his infraction history includes: tattooing, failure to provide a UA, dirty UA, etc.
I asked him, “How did you end up in prison?”
He said, “Drugs and addiction.”
I asked him, “Who are you?”
He paused. He was stuck. I wanted to help urge him along, but I kept quiet as he processed the question. It literally took him 45 seconds before he said, “I’m a charismatic, outgoing, loving guy who is easily influenced. I know right from wrong but I always choose wrong for some unknown reason. My priorities are all wrong. I’m selfish and unresponsible [sic]. I always make excuses and justify my wrong actions.”
He said for himself that he is “easily influenced.” So why not influence this man with positive, meaningful activities that inspires great intrinsic motivation?
I asked him, “How do you spend your days?”
He said, “I play cards, workout, and kick it with friends.”
I asked Paul, “What do you want to do when you get out?”
He said, “Run a business and be a father. Enjoy life.”
I asked, “What type of business?”
He said, “A Tow Truck company. Or a Barber Shop. I’ve even been thinking about a Detail Shop.”
I then asked, “What are you doing now, while in prison, to ensure success?”
He said, “I’m reading a book on small businesses. I think about it a lot. I need to start writing things down.”
The last question I asked Paul was, “Will you come back to prison?”
He said, “I hope not.”
There’s no question in my mind that Paul will come back to prison. Every sign points to it. However, things might be drastically different for Paul if he was engaging in meaningful activities that would tap into his Intrinsic Motivation.
Now here’s an interview I did with a guy who will get out, stay out, and be successful:
Terry Essick is 33. He fell in 1999 and gets out in 2019. He got 20 years for 1st degree murder.
Infraction free for over 5 years.
Spends his days going to school, studying, working out, dog program, and applying what he learns.
Says he’s in prison because as a kid he lacked structure and proper guidance, which lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Describes himself as an outgoing, charismatic, empathic, kind, caring man who is very stern when need be.
Upon release he wants to get into small business management (fitness related). And invest in real estate, and other commodities such as energy, and the stock market.
To prepare for these future events he takes college courses, reads educational books, and watches educational programs. He’s already earned his Certified Training Degree. With his knowledge, he mentors others in here.
Now here’s something that surprised me. I asked him, “Will you be back after you get out?”
He said, “I don’t intend to. But you never know. I mean, I don’t know what fate has in store for me. If someone hurts my family or anyone I love, all bets are off.”
After that last comment, I went from believing there’s no way he’ll be back….to, he very well could be back. I mean after all, he is in for killing a man who was harassing his mother.
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.