A lot has been going on. I do my best to remain positive and stay upbeat. But I must admit, sometimes it’s super hard. Back in August I was on a softball team that was argumentive, disorganized, and dysfunctional. So I quit.
Soon after I quit, I hear a knock on my cell door. It’s the coach. “Why’d you quit?” he demands! Right away I see he’s hostile and emotional.
I tell him, “Because it’s too stressful and I’m not having any fun. Guys are arguing with each other and we’re loosing too many games.”
He says, “Well then f*ck you! I’m done f*cking with you!” Then he slammed my door.
I immediately get an adrenaline rush. I almost open my door and call him back. But I don’t. I accept it and let him walk away. Because the last time I entertained such irrationality, I ended up knocking out the dude. And that cost me my EFV’s for 5 years. (see: How I Lost My EFV’s For 5 Years)
Today I’m a changed man. I’ve learned from my past. I try my best to avoid conflict.
So what could I have done to avoid this entire situation? It’s actually quite simple. I should’ve finished out the softball season with a positive, optimistic attitude. Regardless of our record and all the negativity.
I’m getting pretty good at avoiding physical confrontations. However, I need to work on avoiding confrontational situations all together. This has proven to be very tricky. I can be minding my own business, doing my own thing, and then suddenly find myself in an undesired situation.
So shortly after this whole softball fiasco, the Sergeant calls me in his office. He tells me that my celly, Dicky, is requesting that I be moved out.
Dicky is disabled and bound to a wheelchair, therefore we are in an ADA cell. These cells are bigger and have wider doors for wheelchair access. Which means Dicky always has top priority to live in these spacious ADA cells. So if he wants a celly gone, it’s always the celly who gets the boot, never him.
I’m genuinely surprised by this news the Sergeant it telling me. Dicky and I get along fine. So I ask the sergeant, “Why?”
Basically, Dicky said I’m too clean. I clean the cell too much. And that I organize his area when it gets too messy. Which I do. But Dicky and I have had discussions about this. And he said its all good!
So as the Sergeant is telling me all this, I’m confused. None of this is making any sense. REALLY! I’m getting the boot for being too clean and organized. What’s really going on?
Well it didn’t take long to figure it out. As soon as I moved out, Dicky moved in one of his dope fiend buddies. Dicky is an addict himself. He’s a pharmaceutical junky. He goes to pill line multiple times everyday. He keeps hundreds of pills hoarded in his cell constantly. But I guess the legal drugs aren’t enough.
Since I got kicked out, Dicky has been going downhill fast. Some dude ran up on him and in front of everyone and said, “Listen you punk ass bitch, that sh*t you gave me was bunk and I’m not paying you a f*cking dime!”
Wow! In front of God and everybody. Dicky was now exposed. Shortly after that, someone must’ve went and told. Because they suspended his visits. Tore up his cell. Took apart his wheelchair (looking for drugs). And subjected him to a piss test. Dicky refused the UA because he was dirty. Refusing a UA is a Major Infraction. Dicky is now out of the dog program.
It all makes sense now. Dicky kicked me out of the cell because he wanted to get high and sell drugs. And he knows I’m not down with any of that. So he reverted back to his lying manipulative ways to get what he wants. (see: Living With A Compulsive Liar)
When the Sergeant first told me I was getting kicked out of my cell, I was upset and stressed. But now I’m very thankful. It took me over 6 years to get in The Dog Program. By living with Dicky, he jeopardized my livelihood with his sneaky manipulative misconduct.
In a piece I wrote called, Stone Catchers: I Quit!!!, I talk about overcoming these exact type of challenges.
I know what I need to do. Now it’s all about having the strength, courage, and intelligence to successfully cope with any and all situations that come my way.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
I quit softball. I temporarily quit Stone Catchers. And sometimes I feel like giving up and smashing out some of these fools. It’s time I quit quitting. Giving up is NOT an option. Violence Is Never The Answer.
MY PRAYER: Please God, continue to give me the strength to endure and overcome. Guide me, guard me, and protect me as I continue my journey. Amen!
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!
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.
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.
For years I engaged in misconduct. As a matter of fact, I pretty much wrote a book on it. It’s called, “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary.” Today I reflect back to those sad days (and beyond) and I ask myself, “What could’ve reached me? What would’ve it taken for me to change my negative lifestyle?”
The answer is clear: meaningful activities that inspire intrinsic motivation, guidance, mentoring, and I needed mental practitioners who would’ve constantly provided positive reinforcements.
I dream and hope for a program that could change countless lives all over the country. The details are complexed, but the concept is simple:
Offer programs that inspire intrinsic motivation. Every state has multiple correctional facilities. So implement specific programs in the facilities that are best suited for those specific programs. For example, one facility could specialize in automotive and mechanic programs, while another facility specializes in animals and veterinarian programs. Lessen the criteria of these programs and make them available to those who have never had such opportunities.
Strategically place mental practitioners around the facility to offer positive reinforcement, mentoring, encouragement, etc.
Work with outside companies that will hire some of these highly skilled men the second they’re released.
If this simple, realistic concept was properly implemented nationwide, I guarantee the recidivism rate would be lower than the current 66%.
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.
“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.
Early in the morning, I was awoken by a soft gentle knock on my cell door. I thought I was dreaming. Then my dog, Yahoo, made it clear that this was no dream. He started barking at the officer who was knocking on my door.
I jumped out of my top bunk and opened the door. That’s when I knew the entire unit was being shook down. There were correctional officers everywhere!
In the past I would’ve been nervous. But these days I have nothing to hide.
From the very start of this shakedown, something was different. It was the soft, gentle knock…opposed to the loud aggressive pounding that usually accompany these shakedowns. Because I’m a dog handler, there is a sign on my door that says:
Do Not Knock On Door.
Respect And Beware Of Dog.
And Follow Trainers Requests.
Wow! That’s different.
After the strip search, I put Yahoo in the outside kennel. Then I headed to the gym, as instructed. We all sat in there for 6 hours as the SWAT team searched every cell in the unit.
When it was all said and done they found tattoo guns, heroin, meth, and porn. Or at least that’s what I was told.
The search report in my cell said, “Nothing found.” It feels good to live a life free of contraband and misconduct. I’ve lived on both sides of the spectrum… and I must say, life is so much better and less stressful when one lives by the law of the land. For a glimpse of my earlier incarcerated years and all the misconduct I engaged in, please read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary.
WARNING: The images within Stone City are raw and uncensored as they were taken with illegal cellphones that were smuggled in by convicts. Many of the stories are graphic and violent. Viewer discretion is advised.
There has always been only one spiritual teaching. How you choose to receive it is up to you. I choose Jesus. I commit my heart & soul to His fundamental teachings.
On 11-23-14 I committed to the teachings of Jesus. From that day on, His teachings have healed me. My soul and spirit has never been better. I said NEVER! And I’m in PRISON!
The blessings in my life are abundant. I’m so appreciative and humbled.
All of this has come at a cost. I had to stop Gambling & Hustling. Something I’ve been doing for years.
Look at all the things I had stocked in my cell. For being in prison, I was rich. Wanna know what I have in my cell right now? 1 bag of beans, half bag of rice, 2 pickles, 1 tuna, and a half bag of chips.
But my spiritual life is super rich. Because I have committed to the fundamental teachings of Jesus. I take into consideration EVERY moral situation.
So when my wife and I read verses from 1 Peter…I read 1 Peter 2:13-14 … and I knew I had to obey every rule known to man.
DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS?
There goes hustling up 50 stamped envelopes at $0.13 a pop! I’m now paying $0.49 a piece for those bad boys!
I quite my fantasy football leagues. And I had been playing them for years. I love it! But it’s wrong. Unless I play for free.
My point is, I’ve made many sacrifices. Gambling & hustling are just two more I’ve added to the list. It’s not really easy to give up free money. But in the light of my spiritual awakening, it’s necessary.
The sacrifices have been so worth it. I’ve found that the more sacrifices I make, the more blessings I receive. AND, the fear of repercussion for misconduct is totally gone. Unless of course I pick and choose which rules and laws to break. Spiritual or man-made.
That’s why it’s so important to commit and obey with the lessons (all of them!) of my spiritual teacher.
Easier said than done, I know!
I focus on ONE DAY AT A TIME. If I can be 100% obedient for just 24 hours, then I have won the day! As the day goes by, and my focus remains the same, it gets easier.
I am learning to watch my mind. Crazy, right? Who knew there was such a thing? By doing so, I activate a higher level of consciousness. In the past, so many of my thoughts were involuntary. A situation would occur and here comes a flood of Compulsive Thoughts. NOT GOOD!
Why? NO SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE! That’s why.
Through the power and wisdom of the scriptures, I am learning to stop my mind, reset, and re-focus.
OMG! What a blessing!
Just a few minutes ago I was asked if I wanted to play Pinochle. That’s free money! Of course I wanted to. I’ve been playing it for years, and I’m good at the game. My impulsive thought was, “Let’s play!”
But I didn’t. Because today I am committed to the Lord. Today I will obey His teachings. I will continue to focus on one day at a time.