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.
After reading an email from my sweet wife about what she is thankful for, I realized that my previous Thanksgiving post was incomplete. I failed to mention the things that I am thankful for.
I’m thankful for having such a wonderful family. Starting with my wife. She is so incredibly kind and loving. Her dedication & loyalty is absolutely impeccable. I am so blessed to have her. Thank you, Suzie!
I’m thankful for my amazing mother and all of her love & support. Thanks, mom! I love you.
I’m thankful for my sisters, and my nieces & nephew. I’m especially thankful for my brother-in-laws and how they treat my sisters and their kids.
Wow! There’s so much to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for my Friends.
I’m thankful for my readers and followers.
I’m thankful for being in The Dog Program.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to blog.
I’m thankful to be alive and to have a release date.
I’m thankful for my Marriage.
I’m thankful for clothes to wear and food to eat.
I’m thankful for JPay.
I’m thankful for football season.
I’m thankful for Influential Books to read.
I’m thankful for my health.
I’m thankful for Stone City Blog.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to take NA classes to earn back good time.
I’m thankful for all my blessings and for all the people who love & support me.
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.
Real Love Letters: Falling in love through writing. The connection. The journey. The romance.
How could a vibrant, intelligent woman fall in love with a man in prison? To most people, it makes no sense. I don’t even fully understand it. Yet, I’m referring to my situation. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? That is the question a lot of people ask. And if they don’t ask it, they’re thinking it! The answer is better SHOWN, rather than told.
I invite you to follow our blog: Real Love Letters. It shows how a shy, introvert, Mormon girl falls in love with an outspoken, extrovert…who just so happens to be a convict serving 43 years in prison.
My wife, Suzie, and I know we have something special and unique. A powerful love unlike anything we’ve ever known. And now we have decided to share it with the world. We share our back and forth dialogue that started with a Prison Pen-Pal Ad, and continues all the way through falling in love and getting married.
I feel truly blessed that such an amazing and wholesome woman entered my life.
Real Love Letters is a testimony that true love knows no boundaries.
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 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 went to brunch at 8:30 am. Then layed around and watched football.
Then went to dinner at 5:00 pm. I had: fried chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravey, yams, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie w/whiped cream.
It was actually pretty darn good! I was thankful.
Then I came back, hopped up on my bunk, and watched Chicago beat Green Bay! Who knew???
From 7-7:30pm, there was a live band made up of inmates who played a few songs in the dayroom.
I’ve never seen that before…not in the unit dayroom! It was cool. They were good.
But wait!!! The festive events arn’t over yet…
Today (Friday) was the start of several tournaments. I entered the Dominoe tournament. I won my first match and advanced in the bracket.
Then I subbmitted my name for the Pie Eating Contest. Outta 60 submittions…I got randomly selected. I ate one Chocolate Cream pie in 1:28! That was good enough for 1st place! By 5 seconds!!! I got a big ribbon that says: 2015 PIE EATING CHAMPION
Then the whole unit played BINGO for bags of homemade cookies. I was sitting at a table w/two other guys. We all agreed that if anyone of us win…we’ll split the cookies 3 ways. One of us won!!! The cookies were delicious.
I am so thankful for life.
No matter where we are…life is what we make of it.
The great joy of life comes into my soul, flooding me with love and thanksgiving.
I do not grieve or feel sorry for myself, because nothing is lost or gone from me.
I have friends and family who love me. I have the most sensitive, loving, wife in the world. I have inner peace with a spirit of love and appreciation.
No matter where I am, or where I go, peace, love, and serenity will follow me.
I keep my friends and family in my heart…they are always with me.
I am filled with the joy of living and the great peace that comes to all who believe in the power of love.
Happy Holidays To Everyone!
Enjoy your blessings & love your family.
“I don’t have any friends in here. I have acquaintances.”
I just heard a man say that. And it’s not the first time either. I’ve heard it many times over the years by many different people. It’s almost like an established well known quote amongst convicts.
I have to admit, I once had a mentality that fell victim to those sad words.
The results were devastating. I was constantly fighting and arguing. My life was full of turmoil and conflict. I was living a life with no friends…only acquaintances.
Within the past year something amazing happened. The idea of friendship weighed heavily on my mind. I was ready to open up and let people in.
I used The Law of Attraction as my guide. I have a mental picture of the type of friendships I desire. Therefore, I must send out those exact vibrations.
I desire to be loved. Therefore, I must love. I want people to treat me with dignity and respect. Therefore, I must also treat everyone with dignity and respect, too.
It really is quite simple. I must give as I wish to receive.
During my days of suffering and turmoil, I would have brief moments of clarity that would create desires to change. But I didn’t know how to truly implement genuine change in my life. I would say one thing, but then my actions wouldn’t be consistent with my words.
It is NOT enough to profess! I must DO!
But to verbally profess through prayer is a great start. So I keep praying that I can truly love all people more dearly than I have ever loved before.
I don’t pick and choose. I treat everyone with dignity & respect. I show love to all. And by doing so, The Law of Attraction will bring me like-minded friends.
Being in prison, it’s hard to find true enduring friendships with the men in here. Because it’s hard to cultivate an attitude of friendship towards people in here. I see both sides of the spectrum, I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. Those who project hate and negativity, get the same in return.
The ones who return the love that I show…I call friends.
Today I have several friends. I’m enjoying a level of harmony that exceeds that in which I’ve ever known. I am happy. I trust The Law of Attraction to bring me friends. As I love my fellowman, I get that same love back.
With all that being said, I’d like to leave you with a parting thought:
Don’t question your friends or your friendships. Question yourself. Look inside yourself and you will find the truth.
I am sharing the journal I kept while I did 7 months in the hole.
Dec. 29th, 2008 @ 2am
I tried calling my mom yesterday and found out the prison has blocked all my numbers. That means I can’t call anyone. This week I’ll try to get that fixed. All I can do is write a kite to my case manager. We’ll see!
The hardest part of prison is hole time. Because it makes you think more. Things just pop into mind. Good and bad.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my crime. I wonder how could I have actually carried through with such an act. I think about my family and all the pain I’ve caused. I think about the victims and all their friends and families, and how I hurt so many people.
I’m in a tight little box with just me and my thoughts. When my thoughts get too intense, I force myself to switch gears. I seek the positive aspects that are within painful situations and thoughts.
For example, I’m thankful no one died. I’m thankful that I have a release date. I’m thankful that I won’t die as an old man in prison.
Despite my situation, I’m so lucky in so many ways. And that’s what I like to focus on.
The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but He frustrates the words of the unfaithful. Proverbs 22:12
Think about how true this verse is. I see it all day, every day.
Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach. Proverbs 22:17
By doing this, your level of consciousness will elevate. Your level of understanding will elevate. And you’ll start to notice things like Proverbs 22:12.
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered. Proverbs 22:24
This is a great command. From now on I’ll be mindful of this. From now on I’ll be very mindful of all the scriptures I read. For these are the teachings I will base my life upon.
Thank you for reading.