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.
Gambling is huge in prison. Convicts will bet on anything, such as: professional sports, prison sports, or how long it’ll take before a sex offender gets his ass beat. The most common way to get in debt is playing cards. Specifically: Poker, Spades, or Pinochle. And the most dangerous type of debt is a drug debt.
Scott is serving 16 years for manufacturing meth. While in prison, he enjoys shooting meth and heroin. He pays for the drugs with the $100 a month he gets from his grandma. Unfortunately, $100 only keeps him high for 2 days. But Scott has a plan. He’ll extend his line of credit and rack up debts.
Before he knows it, he owes $800, and the month is only half over. “Aw what the hell” he thinks, “My sister would send me $100 if I ask.” So Scott goes and gets more drugs.
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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.
“This book is a rare insight into a world most are not aware of except for the hollywood portrayal. This is a story about real events and real people who are sons, brothers, and fathers that have been put in situations that have caused them to make the wrong choice. People grow, people learn, and people change, they just need a chance.”
“This book had me reading from the start to finish, the context of this book gave me amazing pictures/images of the events and downfalls. I’ve known Steven for over 27 yrs, hearing the true words about his real-life story adventures captivated me to complete the book in less then 6 hrs and two readings. Moreover, I’m proud to say that I look forward to seeing the person who taught me how to ride a motor bike…my friend…Steven Jennings!”
“I couldn’t put the book down! It was very gripping and intense. My hat goes off to Steven for everything he’s been through and all of the positive changes he’s made.”
“A great true story about a mans personal transformation amongst an environment that is built to cause hate and anger. A rare look into an environment that is chaotic and cruel and an inspiration to see a man better himself in the face of adversity. A must read for all!”
“Talk about innovating yourself and the power of resilience! Talk about change from within and the force of Faith! Talk about triumph in the midst of Darkness! That darkness in which the author found himself from the tender age of 5 or so when he learned to fight. It matters not today who taught him, it matters not where that fighting led him, what matters is what he is now fighting for? He is fighting to be and stay a changed man right there in Prison where it is near impossible nor feasible. There you have to do all it takes to survive, and I have hung in there with the lots in my country for 6 months to understand some of what the author shares with us. Yet I was coming in daily from the outside, just coming in to visit like the US President did recently. He said admitted that what some of the guys did, he also did. He just didn’t land in Jail, just like I didn’t too although I did some pretty hard stuffs in my context. However, what is remarkable in this story is the author’s determination to not remain in the statusquo. He disciplines himself to channel that fierce energy and strength he has, to no more kick others asses, but to kick his ownself up to stay determined to his resolve. I like saying that ‘Do not be afraid of Your Breaking Point because that’s when the Turning Point occurs”, The author got that in Segregation for yet another merciless and senseless fight, but he did. As he says: ” When I was free, I took everyone I should have loved for granted”, and this definitely includes his ownself, but now he resolves after all these years and experiences which includes pet love with chirpy, that: “From within these dark walls, trapped in Stone City, I will defy all odds and come out a better man”. I couldn’t give such a hurtful, helpful, soulful and holistic book any less than a 5 star, and would recommend to all it with no hesitation.”
“This book held my interest from the first page and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. It was also a insightful, rare perspective of our prison system that one cannot get anywhere else. The author’s personal journey was also very moving and emotional.”
“I’ve read a lot of books in this genre. Most books about prison life linger on the bad, but give no glimpse of anything else. Steven Jennings weaves a story that will grip you from the beginning to the end. What I enjoyed most about the book was I felt like I was in his head as he honestly recounts all of his life journey, including life committing criminal acts, how he survived as an enraged and addicted inmate, and finally how he changed his ways and proceeded positively forward while in prison. I think the book should’ve went into more detail about the events, and conclusions that made him change the course of his life while serving time. They were there, but I think the book could’ve benefited from delving deeper. I was left feeling like I got all the details before and after, but the actual epiphany was understated from what I think it actually was. Despite that, I think it was an enjoyable and insightful read. It’s not your typical “prison book.” I highly recommend it – you’ll be glad you read it.”
“This story blew my mind. I’ve heard about things like this going on and thought maybe it only happened in movies. I’m impressed by Jennings’ attitude and ability to remain positive in the prison environment. Reading about what really goes on leaves me speechless.”
By Steven Jennings
Good is all around us, at all times. Regardless of our environment.
So why hasn’t my life always been peaceful? Why have I been in numerous prison fights over the past 20 years?
These are the questions I ask myself. I seek and continue to seek answers. Let me share a tiny glimpse into my discovery.
In order to find peace in the world, I must first find peace within myself. As I surrender to peace, love, and harmony, I find that they attract many blessings to my life.
I’m not saying that negativity is gone, or that it doesn’t press against me on a daily basis. Because it does!
I’m not saying that the only way to counteract negativity is to focus on peace. Seek and ye shall find!
I’m so done responding to negativity in a way that gives it life and power, dulling my pleasures, and clouding me with misery and apprehension!
I’m done with all that!
But how can that be? I’m still in prison. An environment that’s notorious for hate, violence, and chaos!
The answer is simple: I recognize the one life principle, working in and through me, as it inspires and motivates me and everyone I come in contact with.
And that one life principle is: The Law of Attraction…peace, love, harmony, understanding, and all things good.
The vibes I put out, come back to me. The way I treat people, comes back to me. The way I view my environment, contributes to my atmosphere within my environment.
This is my reality: I treat everyone with dignity & respect. I’m positive and happy. I smile. I use the power of my words in a direction of truth & love.
As a result, I attract all these beautiful things back into my life, thus creating a peaceful atmosphere. In prison. While serving 43 years.
This concept has taken me years to effectively implement into my life. I will continue to study as I slowly master the concepts of personal freedom and happiness.
650 days! That’s how much good time I have lost.
So how does one lose almost two years of good time? I’ll tell you: fighting, assaults, smoking weed, riots, refusing to program, failing to disperse, and getting caught with a cell phone (just to name a few).
I was a knuckle-head! I was 21 years old with a 43 year sentence. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel…therefore, I didn’t care.
I was bad. I was constantly getting in trouble. I was constantly losing good time!
Just read my ebook, “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary” and you’ll see all the struggles I’ve had to overcome. Struggles that I inflicted upon myself.
Today I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m still paying for all of my foolish actions.
I recently had my yearly review. This is when administration takes a close look at my paperwork and my actions.
I asked for some “good time” back. They said I must first attend NA classes for six months, twice a week. Then I will get 120 days back for a dirty UA back in 1996.
I’ve been completely sober for over 10 years now. I have no desire what-so-ever to use drugs or alcohol. And I have every desire to attend NA for six months. So it’s on! NA, here I come. I’ll do whatever it takes to earn back all my good time. 120 days is a good start.
At my review next year, I’ll ask to get more good time back. And I will do whatever meetings/classes they assign me. This process will continue year after year.
Right now my release date is in August 2032. My goal is to get it down to November 2030. I’d be 57 years old when I get out.
Over 37 of those years will be spent in prison. That fact alone inspires me to achieve greatness. I refuse to take my incarceration in vain.
Please help support me and buy my ebook, “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary.” In order to see how far one has come, you must first see where he came from. I still have a long ways to go. I’m currently writing my second book called, “Stone City: Redemption.”
I invite you all on my journey. I will rise up and achieve great success in all areas of life.
In order to see how far someone has come, you must first realize where they started.
My dear readers, I warn you, my book “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary” is violent, graphic, and raw. The content will be disturbing to many. To this day, I am very disturbed by it. However, I feel it’s necessary to share. I held nothing back while writing this book. And at times, it was hard for me to speak the truth. The truth hurts.
In order for me to heal & forgive myself, I had to confront the ugly truth head on. Stone City is the result of that confrontation. As I wrote the pages of this book from my prison cell, it taught me a lot about myself. It mainly taught me how I was and how I don’t want to be.
Today, I continue to work hard on redemption and on changing my ways.
Here’s a little glimpse of my book, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary.
“…Please understand I love you all, but when people f**k with me, kill ‘em all.” Those were the last words I wrote in my journal before I did a crime that got me 43 years in prison…” (chapter 1)
“…I wanted to convince these people they had f**ked with the wrong person. In my sick mind, everyone must acknowledge my superiority and treat me with respect. If they didn’t, it could cost them their lives…” (chapter 1)
“…everyone else was huddled together, backed into a corner…the screams got loud as I pointed the gun toward them and pulled back the hammer…” (chapter 1)
“…As I walked into the chow hall for the very first time, I looked around at all the people and I asked myself, “Alright mother-f**kers, who’s first? Which one of you a**holes am I going to make an example of…” (chapter 2)
“…As I let him up, he was a mess. Blood mixed with tears rolled down his face from both his bright red eyes, both sides of his upper face were already starting to swell, and he had two gashes on his left cheek, one from my top set and one from my bottom set of teeth…” (chapter 2)
“…Even in prison, life consists largely of choices. When will I start making the right decisions? Will prison make me worse, or will I find a motivation, or inspiration, or strength, and genuinely change?…” (chapter 2)
Keep your eyes on your own. If you get caught looking at someone’s visitor, whether it’s their mom, sister, grandma, wife, girlfriend, whoever, and you could end up looking at some boots upside your face back in the cell block.
Bruce is a nice young fellow serving 14 years for second degree murder. All through his school years he played sports and had lots of friends.
One night he went to a party with friends. This was a high school party, so everyone there ranged from 15-18 years old. Bruce was 17.
The party was going good, everyone was laughing and having fun. Then it happened.
Eight football players from the rival high school walked in. They were loud, rude, and disrespectful. When asked to leave, they refused.
Push come to shove and a brawl broke out. Most people ran. Within seconds, Bruce and his six buddies were getting man handled by the bullies.
Bruce panicked. He ran to the kitchen and grabbed a random kitchen knife. He had no intention of using the knife. He just wanted to break up the brawl and persuade the bullies to leave.
It didn’t work out. One of the bullies attacked Bruce. Bruce stabbed him. The stab wound was fatal.
Two years into a 14 year sentence, Bruce was enjoying a nice visit from his mom and sister. As the conversation flowed and the mood was light, his sister leaned in close and said, “That creepy guy keeps looking at me.”
Bruce turned his head and saw exactly who she was talking about.
It was 37 year old Ray Ray. A known sex offender.
Bruce turned his chair, then pointed his finger directly at Ray Ray and said, “That guy right there? That’s the guy who can’t keep his f*cking eyes off my sister!”
From that point forward, Bruce kept Ray Ray in his sight. The mood shifted. Tension could be felt. Bruce was pissed!
After the visit, Bruce confronted Ray Ray.
“Why were you staring at my sister!” he demanded!
“I saw you. Don’t f*cking lie to me.”
“I’m not lying. I wasn’t looking at her.”
Bruce snapped! Talk time was over. Bruce kicked Ray Ray in the nuts without warning. Hard!
As Ray Ray bent over in pain, Bruce grabbed him by the hair and kneed him in the face 3 times. Ray Ray fell to the floor. Bruce stomped on his face twice, then said, “Don’t you ever look at my sister again you piece of sh*t rapist.”
Moral of the story: It doesn’t matter what you’re in prison for. Don’t look at other peoples visitors. Period!
Prison has its own language. The word “punk” doesn’t seem all that bad. But call someone a “punk” in prison and you could be fighting in the blink of an eye. In prison, a punk is a prison b*tch.
Jason is serving 12 years for breaking into homes and selling cocaine. He’s 5’10” and 150 lbs. He has a sharp tongue, he’s witty, and he’s a smart ass.
One day Jason was playing handball out in the yard at Airway Heights Correction Center (AHCC). He was winning just about every game.
As he hit a kill shot, he’d yell, “BOOM! Take that motherf*cker!”
He’d jaw back and forth with the other competitors. Then, as he would win, he’d say, “Get the *f* off the court! NEXT!!!”
Well the guy who is next just so happened to be a new guy named Zac. Zac is new to AHCC, not to prison.
As the game starts. Jason takes a quick lead and starts talking sh*t, “Get the *f* off my court, amateur night is on Broadway.”
Zac responds, “Shut up and serve the ball.”
Jason says, “Tell your b*tch to shut up.”
Zac says, “Serve the ball!”
Jason serves a hard shot down the line. It’s an ace. He wins 7-0, and yells, “Get off my court, boy!”
Zac says, “You’re a disrespectful cocksucker.”
Jason says, “*F* you punk!”
That’s all it took. Zac ran up to Jason, swinging hay makers. Jason managed to avoid most of them. But then Zac landed a solid punch on Jason’s chin.
He fell to the ground where Zac proceeded to kick him. Zac was like a wild animal as he mauled Jason all over the handball court. Needless to say, Jason got his ass kicked!
A lot of sh*t talking can be tolerated between various people. But once someone drops the word “punk” or “b*tch”…it’s on!
Moral of the story: Be a nice person and have respect for others. Or at least don’t call someone a punk!