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.
The following poem was written back in June of 1996. Back then I was a drug using, drug selling, violent little badass. I was at Walla Walla, living with Mikey and Jeff. When we were using drugs and smoking joints people use to walk by our cell, look in, and fiend. A lot of guys would stop at our bars and try to make small talk in hopes it would lead to a free hit, or a joint.
(To read more about this crazy time in my life, please check out my ebook called, STONE CITY: LIFE IN THE PENITENTIARY. Specifically, Chapter: 7.)
TAKING THE EDGE OFF PRISON LIFE
Waking up slow to the practical jokes,
where coffee is a must and everyone smokes.
Take a deep breath you can smell the green,
as the broke walk by they look in and fiend.
People say I’m gone how I wish that was true,
the fact is that I’m here so let me tell you what I do.
I kick em in the face sometimes I choke em out,
But then I get away with it and that’s what its about.
So please don’t mess because I gotta confess,
when it comes to fighting dirty I’m one of the best.
So what if I’m small so what if you’re tall,
within ten seconds guarantee you will fall.
The hell with taking the edge off prison life,
its more like taking your head off with my prison knife!
That poem illustrates just how sick my thoughts were. As a result, my actions were extremely destructive. I was oblivious to the fact that I induced my own suffering and hardships.
Now, it is with a joyous heart that I share a more recent poem that was written on 10-25-13, in the midst of enlightenment and spiritual awakening. I am so blessed to have this gentle love in my life. THIS is what takes the edge off of prison life for me these days.
THE MAGIC OF HER LOVE
Love is like magic, at least it is for me.
I pulled a rabbit out the hat, and her name is Suzie.
She transformed my world, a cold hard place.
By showing me a warm soft glow, within the beauty of her face.
Our situation is unique, and to some very strange.
But there’s nothing in this world that love can’t change.
Her love is so pure, understanding and kind.
She loves with all her heart, body, soul and mind.
Her love is so powerful, it reaches my core.
Her love is a love I’ve never felt before.
Her love is a love in which I’ve been seeking.
Her love is a language in which I’m now speaking.
Her love is the love that inspires my life.
Her love is the love that I’ve found in my wife.
I was in my cell training for my upcoming EFV’s with my wife. I was doing weighted hip thrusters with a 65 pound box on my lap. As I was on my fifth set of fifty, my stomach growled. I finished my set, then looked at my watch to see how much longer until lunch time.
I looked at my digital Ironman TIMEX and quickly realized it was malfunctioning. The entire screen had nothing but 1’s on it. There was nine of them to be exact.
I immediately thought: GREAT, ANOTHER EXPENSE! THIS WATCH IS CRAP!!
Then it happened. The 11 seconds turned to 12, then 13, 14, 15, 16….etc. That’s when I realized it was November 11th at 11:11 am.
There’s nothing wrong with this Ironman TIMEX. It works like a champ. The problem was with me. Within all of one second, my brain had made an assumption and drawn a conclusion: My watch is broke. It’s crap. I need a new one.
Sometimes if we just take a second and let things play out, we’ll realize that there was never an issue to begin with. So many non-issues become issues because we make them issues.
PRAYER: Dear God, please give me the wisdom to remain calm and assertive in the face of adversity. Please give me the ability to be patient before drawing conclusions. Open my eyes to the fact that no matter what the situation is, its as good or as bad as I choose to make it. Give me the strength to remain positive and happy as the events of life unfold. Thank you for using my watch to teach such a valuable lesson. AMEN.
My wife recently asked how my book group, Stone Catchers, was going. I told her that I quit because of a few guys that I despise.
She sweetly reminded me of what I wrote in a post called, STONE CATCHERS (WEEK 1):
“Within this class you can catch those potentially destructive stones and lay them to rest in your beautiful stone garden that represents peace, love, and harmony. The more stones you catch, the less they hurt.”
She also wrote:
“I’m sorry to hear that a few guys have been making it unpleasant. Steven Baby, you are the strongest, smartest, and the most understanding man I know. What matters in this class is your growth and the positive change happening within you. I love you and I recognize your powerful mental strength and self-control. You are amazing!”
In which I replied:
“Thank you for the encouragement to stick with Stone Catchers. I will. I need to learn to cope with a variety of different personalities. And this is a perfect opportunity to hone those skills. Mwah…you are a great source of inspiration for me. Thank you, honey.”
So I went back and joined the group. And now we’re reading a book called, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
The reviews are so phenomenal that they led me to believe I was about to read the greatest book in the history of the world. But by page 20, I was ready to do what I’ve done in the past. And that is to chuck the book against the wall, then roll over and go to sleep. So far this book is stupid and scattered. But like the literacy group itself, I’m going to continue on, and try my best to get something positive out of it. However, I’m struggling right now.
By staying in the group, it’ll help me with my coping skills as I endure child molester Ray Ray run his mouth. Every time he opens his mouth, I just want to get up and walk out. Which I did at the last meeting. And I hadn’t been back since.
By now, it’s clear how I feel. So what do I do? I feel like calling them out and exposing their bad intentions and devious ways. But who am I to do that? Another option I have is to remove myself from the equation. Quit the group. And just keep to myself. And for a moment, that’s what I did.
As I sit, think, and meditate on it, I come to the conclusion that I need these type of encounters/situations in order for me to grow and evolve. I need to face these type of inner conflicts as I challenge myself to remain positive and conduct myself appropriately.
Not because they deserve it, but because I deserve the inner positivity and peace that appropriate action attracts. And just because I don’t say anything to them, doesn’t mean I don’t harbor negative thoughts and feelings towards them. Because I do. And that’s wrong. I need to fix that.
Thoughts are things. The law of attraction operates through thoughts just the same as it does through actions. Therefore if I even as so much think in a negative manner, I’m essentially attracting negativity to myself. And it’s only a matter of time before negative thoughts will manifest into negative actions.
So now, at the age of 43, it’s time I recognize and really watch how my mind thinks. It’s time I utilize a deeper level of consciousness and truly control my mind and thoughts. It can be done. As I write this, my mind is already gearing up for my next course of action. And I feel like it won’t be as hard for me as I initially thought it would be.
Maybe I’ll say something nice to those two guys. As it is now, I don’t even talk to either one. I just sit back and think negatively towards them. And they have no idea. It’s all me. It’s all in my head. It’s my problem.
Well not anymore. I’ll find a way to overcome as I strive to live in peace with all of mankind.
As for the stupid book…ut…I mean, awesome book. I’ll talk more about that in another post.
Thank you for making this platform what it is. You and this blog have helped me tremendously. Thank you for all the inspiring comments. Keep em coming.
And a special THANK YOU to my amazing wife, Suzie. Your love, support, and encouragement have made me a better man. I love you, honor you, and appreciate you with all my heart.
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.
Dear Heavenly Father,
As my wife hikes the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), I pray that she endures throughout the day and night. Please let it be known unto her heart how much I love and appreciate her, and how thankful I am to have her. Anoint her with all the energy she needs to make it through each and every day. Help keep her strong, sharp, and focused. I pray she feels good physically and will have the mental fortitude to appropriately process any situation she encounters.
Bless my wife by giving her sound intuition as she navigates through the wilderness. Lead her to a place of solitude where she may rejuvenate and revive her beautiful soul. Pour out Your peace and love all over her. Please let her see just how much she contributes to our happiness and quality of life together. Reinforce in her heart and mind how valuable she is. Equip her to seek, find, and carry out her purpose in this world.
Please Lord Jesus, be with Suzie on her journey and let her know that she is loved & supported.
~ Steven Jennings
My mentor, Sandra Rogers, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, asked me:
“In your blog titled: Those Who Will Re-offend And Those Who Will Stay Out, you imply why you feel like Paul will re-offend and Terry will stay out but you do not explicitly say why – can you tell me explicitly why? Or is it just a feeling?”
Its definitely just a feeling. However, I can explicitly explain why I have such feelings.
I feel Paul will come back because he’s in here gambling, using drugs, giving dirty UA’s, getting tattoo write ups, getting caught with tattoo guns and ink, and engaging in a constant stream of misconduct. He’s in prison and his activities are still criminal. He hasn’t changed one bit. Couple that with the fact that he’s been in and out of prison 4 times, and it’s easy to see he’ll be back for a 5th time.
But wait! There’s more! Upon his release, he’s going right back to the same environment that fosters his sad lifestyle. He’ll be hanging with the same bad crowd, doing the same bad things. Remember this post. Paul gets out soon. When he comes back, I’ll let you all know. It’ll be within 3 years of today.
As for Terry, I have a feeling he’ll stay out because he’s engaged in positive meaningful activities. He doesn’t engage in criminal activities. While in prison, he’s earned several degrees and has completed just about every program offered. He applies his newly learned skills on a daily basis. His actions are positive and productive. He gets along well with staff and inmates.
But wait! There’s more. Upon his release he’ll be going to a new environment that’s secure and structured. An environment that’s free of alcohol, drugs, and criminal culture.
Then there’s the statist factor that says people who serve 20 consecutive years or more, are less likely to come back.
Terry was 16 when he came in. He’ll be 36 when he gets out. His brain is completely developed now, he’s a different person today opposed to back when he was 16. He’s nurtured his mind with positive, productive material. And most of all, he has a strong will to live a happy life among the law abiding citizens of this country.
I would be shocked if Terry came back.
I would be shocked if Paul didn’t come back.
If you look closely at inmates and examine their daily activities, and how they conduct themselves, it’s relatively easy to predict who will come back and who will stay out.
I am so grateful for my wife and all that she does. I wish I could be out there helping her right by her side. I love and appreciate her with all my heart. She truly is a blessing.
I had such a sheltered and spoiled background. I breezed through my childhood so fast that it’s hard to remember it. I wanted so badly to grow up and be an adult, a wife, and a mother.
I had a pretty awesome upbringing with loving parents, a big wholesome family, a kind religious community, and I was even a Girl Scout. But is it possible that sometimes things can be too perfect that you miss out on living and experiencing?
I have Stone City Blog on my mind right now. It is a collection of blogs written by men in prison, which I manage. Honestly, I’ve struggled with putting in all those hours helping men who couldn’t give me much in return.
I help men in prison share their voice with the world. At first, I choked on my own voice when telling people this. It wasn’t something I wanted to brag…
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I keep my prison cell immaculate. Everything has its place.
Cosmetics are lined up perfectly, labels out, finger width apart, from tallest to smallest.
Shoes lined up perfectly, one inch apart.
Clothes neatly hung, starting with pants, ending with shirts and a coat. Buttons and zippers facing out.
Socks, underwear, t-shirts, and towels, all folded perfectly… seems facing out. I don’t stuff one sock into the other. That stretches them out. I fold them.
Over the years my OCD created a lot of havoc between cellmates and I.
In addition to everything I just mentioned, I also like the floor to be disinfected and spotless.
These days I have a celly who could care less about my OCD and spotless floor. He’s a 9 year old black lab/collie mix. His name is Yahoo. And let me tell you, Yahoo sheds more than one thousand Ball Pythons in mid July!
He’s also an awesome cure for OCD. I love him so much that I just don’t care about all the XL sweaters and Fur Coats he leaves behind.
The first week I got him, I was cleaning my floor at least 6 times a day. I would try to drop the doggie treat in his mouth so I wouldn’t get his saliva on my hands. I was washing my hands a million times per day. I wouldn’t touch my cup or bowl after touching Yahoo, unless I washed first.
And oh, did I mention I also have a disabled human celly? His name is Dickie. He’s in a wheelchair due to Guillian syndrome. He has a ton of medical gear in here. He’s messy, sloppy, and unorganized.
IT WAS JUST TOO MUCH!!!
So I decided to use the power of MIND, and cure myself of OCD. To a degree.
I’ve had Yahoo four weeks and I now wipe my hand on my pants to get rid of his saliva before I grab my cup to take a drink of dog haired water. Everyday I’m picking or spitting dog hair outta my mouth. I lay down next to him on the floor. Then step out into the day room to brush myself off. I view it as a form of dust mopping. I get to love on Yahoo while cleaning the floor. Its a win win!
My perspective determines my attitude. Both are within my control.
In the past, I didn’t handle things appropriately. As a result, I suffered the consequences.
Today I simply do what I know to be right. As a result, the blessings speak for itself. I’M IN THE DOG PROGRAM!
PS – Yahoo has earned his yellow bandanna. Sweet! He is progressing beautifully! Now I gotta try to get him to smile for the camera 😉