After 6 months I finally got another dog. And this one is awesome! His name is Willy. He is a Blue Heeler (aka: Australian Cattle Dog).
The only thing I know about Willy is that he’s a DOC drop-out. That means he was training to become a drug sniffing dog, but didn’t make the cut. As for ”why” he didn’t make the cut, I have no idea, because Willy is highly intelligent and learns super quick.
I’ve had Willy for about two weeks and he already knows more than some dogs learn in ten weeks!
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.
I chose this title because the majority of prison tattoos revolve around hate. Not all. But most.
Some guys will get their woman’s name plastered across their neck. So I suppose I could’ve called this post : PRISON INK : THE ART OF LOVE. Because it’s also common to see the faces of loved ones etched in the flesh. Along with their names, birth dates, death dates, anniversary dates, etc.
I’ve seen convicts sporting tattoos of the hand prints and foot prints of their newborns. Just today I saw one that said, ”Family’s gone, but not forgotten.” That was in cursive and on his neck. Then on his left hand was some gang stuff.
So, as you can see, it’s not all about hate. But no matter what, it is all bad. Consider the risks involved, such as transmittable disease, bad ink, getting your ass kicked, infractions, and loosing goodtime.
I just met a guy who got kicked out of The Dog Program because during a strip search they discovered a tattoo of his favorite dog. He told them that the tattoo was old. They asked, ”How old?”
He was honest. He said, ”Over a year ago.”
Book em! It doesn’t matter how old a tattoo is. When a guy comes to prison, DOC documents all scars and tattoos. If you get a new tattoo while in prison, and they discover it 25 years later, it’s a major infraction!
I know this white guy who got “WHITE PRIDE” tattooed down his back arms. The guy who did the tattoo is a black man. When the white fellas (see: prison glossary) found out that a black man tattooed “WHITE PRIDE” on a white boy, they beat the white boys ass.
For months I watched a white tattoo artist sling hate monger ink all over dozens of other white boys. The artist then went and tattooed some gang graffiti on a black man. The white boys beat the artist damn near to death.
Why? Because they felt their new tattoos were somehow tainted because that artist also worked on someone who wasn’t white.
A lot of drama and misconduct goes into getting a prison tattoo. I asked a lot of old timers if they like their tats? Most say no. They regret getting them. And if they could do it over, they would stay away from tattoos.
Tattoos are addictive. Most guys can’t stop at just one. At first they look nice. As the years go by they fade, bleed into the skin, and get blurry. This has a lot to do with the poor quality ink. Guys make ink out of soot and baby oil. As a matter of fact, back in October of 2013, some guys caught the unit on fire as they were making ink. It’s dangerous! On many levels.
NOTE: All pictures were taken from a smuggled-in cell phone. I did 7 months in the hole after I got caught with it years ago. While in the hole I wrote a book called, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary. Buy the ebook today!
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.
Some guy just got his jaw broke and was hospitalized. The other guy is in segregation. The dispute was over JPay. Ever since JPay has issued the new JP5, there has been a rise in the number and severity of assaults and fights.
JPay upgrades the handheld devices from the JP4, to the JP5. Thousands of inmates pay for that upgrade. They then all get their new and improved device within a few weeks of each other. Now everyone wants to link-up their new device at the JPay kiosk so they can download all their music on their new JP5.
JPay’s software is so old and cheap that it causes the kiosks to freeze up and run super slow.
The logins are limited to 20 minutes. In that time, inmates are only getting 2 or 3 songs. A lot of these guys have over 1,000 songs!
In an already volatile environment, you can imagine the frustration and anger this creates.
There’s now a feeding frenzy mentality revolving around the JPays. Everybody is trying to log on all day, everyday. And because these guys are only getting 2 or 3 songs per login, there’s no end in sight to this unnecessary, totally preventable, madness.
The remedy is quite simple:
*Pre-load the JP5’s with everyone’s music.
*Upgrade all software and technology to the best money can buy. (JPay can afford it. They’re a multi-million dollar business!)
Until something changes, JPay will continue to be the cause of numerous assaults and fights. I just hope that DOC will hold JPay to a higher standard before another jaw gets broke…or worse.
“I think it would be helpful for the audience to understand how you personally were affected by Occupational Deprivation.” ~Sandra Rogers
That single sentence stood out to me and is where the title of this post came from. First, I had to understand the meaning of Occupational Deprivation (OD). As far as I can tell, it means: The lack of meaningful activities. Hmmm…all of my activities have had some type of meaning behind them.
I hustled, gambled, sold drugs and tobacco.
The Meaning: to make money.
I got in fights.
The Meaning: to earn respect and to release pent up frustrations and aggression.
In a Penitentiary, or a Correctional Center, these truly are meaningful activities. If I want to spend the rest of my life locked up and miserable! Early on in my incarceration I knew I had to change. I wanted to change! (For an in-depth look, please read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary)
The cure to Occupational Deprivation is Meaningful Activities. But for years, I was denied. I asked numerous DOC employees for help. The answer was always the same, “No. Those programs are for short timers…you have too much time.”
My misconduct would continue and I’d end up in the hole. Again! I shed many tears in The Hole. Because that’s when & where reality really hit! Prison. 43 years. The pain I’ve caused others. Isolation. Being a failure. A loser. The list goes on…
One time when I was in the hole they cuffed me and escorted me to the recreation enclosure. On the way there I saw a flier advertising Anger Management and Victim Awareness. These classes were available in the hole. Two classes I desperately needed. So I submitted a kite requesting them.
To my surprise, they denied me. The reason: I wasn’t doing enough time in the hole.
That pissed me off! While in population I’m denied for having too much time. And in the hole I’m denied for not having enough time. But if I seriously hurt someone and get, let’s say,12 months in the hole, then I’ll get the classes and my long prison sentence is no longer a factor.
It’s logic like this that’s so discouraging.
Lucky for me, I have a strong will and a burning desire for redemption (see: Redemption, It’s My Choice). Despite set back after set back, I continued to seek understanding as I took moral inventory of myself. As I write this and reflect back, I now see that I had the desire to get better, but I severely lacked in the “meaningful activity” department. Therefore, I struggled.
Occupational Deprivation was my program! And I suffered greatly because of it.
Today, my life is full of “meaningful activities.” And as a result, I’ve never been happier or more productive.
I go to NA Meetings, which I gain so much wisdom & knowledge from.
I’m in The Dog Program and I have the privilege of loving a dog named, Yahoo.
I graduated from my Redemption and Roots of Success classes because I wasn’t told, “No. You have too much time.”
I’ve started reading Influential Books, which I thoroughly enjoy.
I mentor those who are ready to hear positive messages. I lead by example so my words have greater impact.
I’m the nations leading blogger from behind bars.
I have meaningful relationships with the people I call Friends.
I have a job passing out commissary to thousands of guys.
I prepare healthy meals for myself and I workout regularly.
The list of “meaningful activities” goes on and on….and my most treasured one is my marriage. I have the most caring, loving wife any man could ever hope to have. Suzie has blessed my life beyond what I thought possible. The love I feel for her in my heart is stronger than any other feeling I’ve ever known.
All these “meaningful activities” have completely wiped out OD. Perhaps I should’ve titled this post, “How I Am Affected By Meaningful Activities.” Because this is where the beauty is. This is where true transformation is realized.
Its great to learn new terms and articulate my journey under the umbrella of Occupational Therapy. But the truth is: If someone wants change, they must want it for themselves, then relentlessly pursue it everyday for the rest of their lives.
It is now, after I am well on my way, that I make the connection between “meaningful activities” and rehabilitation. It would’ve been nice to learn all this years before I did. Better late than never.
I’m always hearing people say things like:
“DOC does not rehabilitate people”
“DOC makes people worst off”
“DOC doesn’t give a f**k!”
Unfortunately, the people who say things like this are exposing their attitude towards life in general. Perception is reality.
Prison is full of pessimism. Most of these guys in here focus on the negative. And the majority of their conversations are full of whining and complaining. It’s always everyone else’s fault, except their own. Some of them make valid points, but that’s it. They don’t follow it up with positive action.
Not too long ago I used to fight this environment with a bad attitude, harsh words, clinched fists, and devastating elbows. I was doing nothing to better myself. I recognized this. I wanted to change, but I didn’t know how. So I sought help from DOC (Department of Corrections).
I sent numerous requests for various treatments, such as CD, PTSD, MRT, VA, AM, etc. And every single request was denied! The reason being: my “time structure.” (aka: I have too much time left to serve). Unbelievable! I sought help, and they told me “NO”.
So, I had to help myself. I mean, if I really wanted to change, I didn’t need any classes to succeed. It sure would be helpful, but DOC had made their position clear…”NO HELP FOR GUYS DOING A LOT OF TIME.”
As I worked hard on myself and my attitude, I realized that there was still a major hump that I needed to get over. I still found myself on the verge of fighting. I’d be doing good, but then I would get into an argument which then resulted in a fight.
WTF!! I was actually putting forth a lot of effort to change my ways, yet I was still getting into fights. I asked myself why this keeps on happening?
I thought about that long and hard, day after day. I really didn’t like how I was failing. I should be able to control this aspect of my life. But I obviously couldn’t.
After a couple years since my last request for help, I wondered if maybe DOC would help me now? So, I tried again. I submitted several requests to get help.
Again, I am DENIED!
But wait! There’s a new program called “Redemption” and it’s open to all. I’ll do it!
I enjoyed it. I felt productive. I learned things about myself. I gained tools I could use to build a better me. Then five months later, it was over and I graduated from that class. I was getting along with my peers, and I was applying what I had learned. I was finally over that hump.
All was good, right? Wrong!
Within a few months I found myself in a heated argument. Dude swings on me with no real warning. He hits me twice before I slam him down on the cement floor. His head cracks open, he’s knocked out, and blood forms a huge pool under his head. I walk away. When its all said and done, I loose my EFV’s (Extended Family Visits) for 5 years, and I spend 3 weeks in the hole.
While in the hole, I requested help. But I was denied once again. This time because I’m only doing 3 weeks in the hole.
The help programs are designed for guys doing 3 months or more. Think about that for a minute. I’m denied self help programs because I’m doing too much time in prison AND because I’m not doing enough time in the hole.
But I wasn’t mad at DOC. I was mad at myself.
I was the one who kept doing this. I needed to figure this out. I needed to find something that would last longer than the length of any class. I needed to find a way to help myself and to impose my own goodwill within this environment. But how could I consistently do that?
Well, I am proud to say that I have finally found a way. I’ve created my own personal ministry. It involves daily meditation and inspiration rocks.
I know what inspires me…my family, love, peace, and living in harmony.
The challenge is…to remain focused throughout every second of every day.
That challenge can be difficult in here where I am surrounded by so much negativity. But thankfully, I‘ve found a way to channel my energy into a positive & rewarding form that brings me clarity.
Every morning before I get out of bed, I meditate. Meditation amplifies what I already know. It helps me to stay focused., and it also allows me to reset my mind and visualize a positive lifestyle.
In addition to meditation, I also hold my inspiration rocks. My mantra is to feel the rocks in my hand as I focus on the words written on them and their meaning to me. This helps to keep my mind alert, aware, open, and receptive. I now do this everyday, several times a day. It seems to be working. (Please see my blog titled: Inspiration Rocks).
My personalized daily mantra of meditation & inspiration rocks helps me to be more open to myself, and to others, as I expand my patience & tolerance level.
I want to be a peaceful man. And now, after 42 years, I am finally learning what it takes to achieve this…desire, dedication, and constant commitment.
Rehabilitation, it’s my choice. I’ll never give up.