My lips are shinny from lip balm. The skin on my face is glowing from mass amounts of Oil of Olay. This I know because I just caught a glimps of myself in the reflection of my 7″ touchscreen JP5. Now I feel like blogging. Let’s do it!
I feel good. Just a few hours ago I cut my hair and shaved my face, armpits, and down below. I thought about Suzie as I was manscaping. For those who don’t know what manscaping is, it’s when a man shaves and trims his pubic hairs all around his southern region. Now you know.
Why the hell would a man in prison manscape? Any ideas? You’d be surprised at how many inmates do it. Ask your inmate if he does it. If he says, ”yes” ask him ”why?”
I do it to keep the fleas and crabs off me. It seems to be working.
If your inmate doesn’t trim his bushes, I’d be willing to bet that he has bad breath most the time too. It just seems like those two go hand in hand…bad breath, and a colony of crabs & fleas co-existing in an unruly out-of-control man bush. Pay attention the next time you’re in the visiting room. You’ll see guys scratching their nuts left and right. Thats because they have crabs, fleas, and ball mites. All because they don’t manscape.
I had no idea that this post was going to be so educational for ya all. But since it is, I’ll continue to enlighten.
I’m going to teach you a technique that will enable you to save money on mouthwash. I learned this technique just the other day when I used a sink next to Mike, aka: The Mad Jacker. They call him “The Mad Jacker” because he’s always beating off in the toilet and shower stalls. Everyone knows he does it. But he doesn’t care. He still does it. Mike is crazy. He’s also a genius. Literally. (Read Jesse’s post called Surprised. He’s talking about Mike.)
So I pull up along side of him and start brushing my teeth. Above each sink is a mirror and a little stainless steel shelf. I notice on Mike’s shelf he has floss, toenail clippers, nasal spray, a salt shaker that he stole from the chow hall, and two bottles of mouthwash.
As I’m brushing my teeth, I’m also watching him through my mirror. He has no idea.
He takes a huge swig of mouthwash and starts swishing it around. Then he tilts his head back and vigorously gargles. I can see splashes of mouthwash fly out of his mouth and down his chin and neck. I take a step farther away from him and decide to watch him point blank. Like a statue I just stand and stare as I brush.
After he gargles, he spits the mouthwash into the other mouthwash container. That’s when I noticed that both his mouthwash bottles contained backwashed mouthwash. I gaged.
Then I spit my toothpaste in the sink and said, “What in the world are you doing?”
“Getting ready to brush my teeth.” he says.
“No.” I said, “Why are you spitting mouthwash back into the container?”
As he squeezes indigent toothpaste onto his indigent toothbrush, he says, “The sodium fluoride is still active. I’m not going to waste perfectly good mouthwash.”
(Indigent – An inmate who has less than $10 on his books for 30 days or longer is considered to be “indigent.” Indigent inmates can purchase indigent items as they rack up an indigent debt. NOTE: Indigent items are generic, no name brand items. In other words, they suck!) See: Glossary of Prison Terms
I hide my disgust and act intrigued. “How many times can you use it before the sodium fluoride is no longer active?”
He says, “I’ve been using this stuff for 7 months and it’s still good.”
This guy is totally oblivious to how crazy and gross all this is. In his mind we are having an average everyday conversation.
I ask him, “How do you know when the sodium fluoride is no longer active?”
He simply says, “When it stops burning.”
I then asked him, “Why do you turn off the water when you brush your teeth?”
I asked him that because I do then same thing. It’s obviously to conserve water. But not many guys do that in here. As a matter of fact, some guys deliberately turn on all the faucets and then walk away.
Mike answers, “To save water. By doing so, I save up to 4 gallons of water every time I brush my teeth.”
I ask, “How many times a day do you brush?”
He says, “Three.”
I say, “That’s 12 gallons of water you save per day.”
He says, “Yep. And 4,380 gallons per year.”
I ask, “What do you do with all the water you save?”
He finally looks at me for the first time, cocks his head sideways, and says, “Ha Ha, very funny.”
Then he gathers all his things and speed walks out of the bathroom and to his cell. Mike is always in a hurry no matter where he goes.
Yes, Mike is an odd ball. He does some strange things. But Mike is alright with me. Together we save approximately 8,760 gallons of water per year! Who knew?
Blogging is such a great tool for rehabilitation. That is one reason why Suzie and I created Stone City Blog. We want all inmates to have access to this new and effective rehabilitative tool.
I’d like to encourage everyone who reads Stone City Blog, to reach out to the bloggers, and prompt them. Ask them critical questions that will inspire deeper thought and self reflection. By doing so, you could be that one thing that inspires great change within an inmate and his rehabilitative efforts. Stone City Blog gives you access to over 1,000 posts written by over 100 inmates. All of these inmates can be contacted via email (JPay).
In this post I will respond to THREE PROMPTS from Sandra Rogers.
PROMPT #1) How will you achieve a balance between redemption and rehabilitation?
This prompt is awesome. It brings a whole new dimension to my thought process. Until now, I’ve never ever even considered such a question. Redemption and rehabilitation go hand in hand. For me personally, I can’t achieve one without the other.
My rehabilitation efforts are a daily process. Everyday I’m focused on love, compassion, and understanding as I live in an environment full of hate, conflict, and turmoil. It’s my job to rehabilitate myself while in the belly of the beast surrounded by demons. I do not react to negativity with negativity. Instead, I remain focused on my goals and dreams as I use my energy in a positive productive manner.
On a scale of 1-10, if my Rehabilitation is at a 8, well then my Redemption has to be at least a 4. Because Rehabilitation is Redemption to some degree. 4 and 8 is not balanced. Therefore, I need to get my Redemption up by at least 4 points. I can do so by contributing to society in a positive way. Such as saving dogs and doing volunteer work. Hey, I do that.
PROMPT #2) How will you find a balance between Selflessness and Selfishness?
By keeping in close contact with mentors I trust and respect. Such as Suzie, Alana, Sandra, and maybe even professional counselors. They will help show me the way and keep me focused. They will prompt me to a deeper level of consciousness and self awareness.
If it is brought to my attention that a segment of my life is unbalanced, then I will do whatever it takes to balance it out. To simply answer this question: I will seek the advice of all those who are educated, and those who have great perspective and insight.
Meanwhile, in here I enjoy great balance between working out, eating healthy, watching football, and reading & writing. (Selfishness)
And then (Selflessness), helping others, sharing, and volunteering.
PROMPT #3) What are the markers of the above mentioned kind of balance?
Happiness. The ultimate marker is happiness. When my life is truly balanced, I’m at my happiest. Regardless of my environment. When aspects of my life fall out of balance, my happiness is the first to suffer.
Another great marker is the opinions and perspectives of my mentors and the people I love, and how THEY view me. If they are happy with me and proud of me, that is a great indication that I’m achieving a high degree of balance in my life.
Thank you Sandra for such thought provoking prompts. The insight and self analyzation that it takes in order to answer these questions are very valuable. Your on-going prompts have taught me more about life and myself. They invoke deep thinking and self reflection that is critical to any type of rehabilitation.
It is my prayer and hope that everyone can recognize the significant value that is hidden within inmate bloggers and critical thought-provoking prompts.
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 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!
As a juvenile, I served 18 months at Green Hill. I was out for 14 months before I put myself in prison with a 43 year sentence. Approximately 80% of the kids at Green Hill end up in prison. So I asked myself, “What would it take to significantly reduce that number?”
The answer is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Drastic means requires drastic measures. Here’s my proposal:
Once the juvenile has been found guilty, sentence him to 20 years in prison. Send him to a Maximum security prison full of violent convicts. Make his prison stay uncomfortable and scary. Make this juvenile believe that this is his life for the next 20 years!
But really, its just an elaborate deterrent program that the juvenile knows nothing about. In reality, he gets 18 months (or whatever his juvenile sentence calls for). But he doesn’t know that. He thinks there was some bogus clause in the sentencing guidelines that allowed the judge to give him 20 years in an adult maximum security prison.
As for the Maximum security prison and convicts, they’re in on it too. It’s a specially designed program in a designated section of the prison. Everything is controlled and designed to truly reach these “unreachable” out-of-control juveniles.
As his actual sentence of 18 months starts to wind down, he gets a letter from the court that says he won his appeal. This will serve as an exit strategy that will release the juvenile without exposing the program.
WHY THIS PROGRAM WOULD BE WIDELY EFFECTIVE
You can lecture a juvenile until your blue in the face, and you still won’t reach them. Some things they need to experience for themselves. NOTHING could reach these ”at risk” juveniles the way this program could.
When I was at Green Hill I knew 80% of us would end up in prison. Green Hill is where I learned of that statistic. But who cares? I was the other 20%. So I spent my 18 months kicking it with Crips, Bloods, BGD’s, and thugs. I smoked weed, dropped acid, drank pruno, lied, cheated, stole, and fought. I sold drugs and cigarettes. Green Hill was the absolute worst for me! I came out WAY WORSE than when I went in. I only wish there was an effective deterrent program, like the one I just mentioned. Because I know without a doubt, if it’s done right, it will save juveniles from a life of incarceration.
Please read: How To Engage Those Who Continue With Misconduct
Just how bad is it?
It’s as bad or as good as I make it.
The lying… it’s super bad.
It’s almost an everyday thing.
I pretty much know when my celly is lying. And even when he’s not lying, I question him. I don’t question him out loud, I keep it to myself because I don’t want to cause tension between us.
When my “BS Meter” goes off, I investigate. He mainly lies about what other people say. So I’ll simply go to that person and ask, only to find out that my celly completely and grossly lied. I’ve called him on a few lies already. He gets defensive and hostile. He attempts to clean it up by telling more lies.
For example, he told me that an officer jammed him up because our dog, Yahoo, wasn’t wearing a colored bandana. (We had just given Yahoo a bath and his bandana was off until it dried. Bandanas represent the status of the dog.)
The lie was so elaborate and full of back and forth dialogue between he and the officer. I knew he was lying. So later on I talked to the officer, only to find out that no such conversation ever took place.
Later that day I tried to have a serious talk with my celly. (He didn’t know I knew.) I explained to him that we need to be honest with each other.
I asked if he has ever lied to me?
He said no.
I asked if he was sure?
He paused, then said that he has never lied to me.
During the course of our conversation he lied to me several more time. It was like a domino effect, one lie inspired the next lie. He lied to cover up lies. Finally I told him that I talked to the officer, and I already knew the truth behind that lengthy, lie infested conversation we just had.
I got the feeling that this man really believed his own lies, because he attempted to convince me that he DID talk to the officer, and the officer DID say that. He wouldn’t budge! There was NO WAY this man was going to admit he lied.
So I said, “Let’s go talk to the officer together.”
He said, “Let’s go!”
I opened the door and we both started to head out. For a split second I started to think, “Man! Did the officer lie to me?” I mean, THATS how convincing my celly was.
Then, all of a sudden, my celly said, “Wait! Stop! Come back in here.”
We came back in and shut the door.
He said in a low defeated tone, “He never said that.”
I was super cool about it. I told him it was no big deal and let’s move on. He apologized for lying and assured me that from now on he would be honest with me. I shook his hand, told him all is good, and let’s move on.
Since then, he has lied to me numerous times. And if I can’t prove it, he doesn’t budge. So for the most part I just let him lie without calling him on it. But I must be honest, its frustrating and extremely annoying.
Last night I came back from the shower. The second I walk in he says, “Rollo started to chew on your shoe. I took it away from him.”
I have OCD, I know EXACTLY how and where I set my shoes. I looked at my shoes and they were untouched. My celly is disabled. There’s NO WAY he’s going to line my shoes up the way I do.
I KNOW HE’S LYING…AGAIN!!!
I’ll spare you the big ol lie infested conversation that ensued. But I will say that I called him on his BS. Along with several other previous lies. The flood gates opened!
It didn’t go well and now I feel animosity towards him. And I’m sure he feels animosity towards me. In the past, I would’ve made his life hard with verbal abuse and constant disrespect.
I called my sweet wife and told her what was going on. She offered me advice and help on how to handle this. She then remembered reading what my celly had written in a post on Stone City Blog. He wrote that he used to be a pathological liar. It instantly made sense.
The next day I was extra nice to him. Then I asked if we could have another serious conversation. He said yes. I commended him on his Stone City Blog post, and how he admitted he once had a lying problem. I offered to further help him in overcoming this problem.
We talked for a long time. He told me about his childhood and abuse, and why he lies. As we concluded I told him that this is the perfect opportunity for us both to evolve and overcome. He agreed.
It’s been a couple weeks since that chat. He hasn’t lied since…at least not to me.
If I feel he’s lying, all I have to say is, “Are you being truthful?”
He and I both agreed that by saying that, it’ll take him to a place of truth within, and will allow him to recognize and focus on his desire to be a better man. This also benefits me as it allows me to deal with issues in an appropriate manner.
So just how bad is it, living with a compulsive liar?
It’s as bad or as good as I make it.
I choose to make it a good thing, and to turn it into something that will allow us to both learn and grow.
It’s easy to identify those who will re-offend and come back to prison vs. those who will get out and be successful. So why not implement programs that REALLY focus on the 66% who will re-offend? In order to identify those who will re-offend vs. those who will stay out, I have randomly selected and interviewed 2 inmates.
Here’s an interview I did with a guy who will come back to prison:
Paul is a 35 year old white male.
He’s been in and out of prison 4 times.
He currently has 2 years left before he gets out.
His rap sheet is long: robbery, burglary, I.D. theft, possession of stolen property, possession of stolen vehicle, eluding, etc. And his infraction history includes: tattooing, failure to provide a UA, dirty UA, etc.
I asked him, “How did you end up in prison?”
He said, “Drugs and addiction.”
I asked him, “Who are you?”
He paused. He was stuck. I wanted to help urge him along, but I kept quiet as he processed the question. It literally took him 45 seconds before he said, “I’m a charismatic, outgoing, loving guy who is easily influenced. I know right from wrong but I always choose wrong for some unknown reason. My priorities are all wrong. I’m selfish and unresponsible [sic]. I always make excuses and justify my wrong actions.”
He said for himself that he is “easily influenced.” So why not influence this man with positive, meaningful activities that inspires great intrinsic motivation?
I asked him, “How do you spend your days?”
He said, “I play cards, workout, and kick it with friends.”
I asked Paul, “What do you want to do when you get out?”
He said, “Run a business and be a father. Enjoy life.”
I asked, “What type of business?”
He said, “A Tow Truck company. Or a Barber Shop. I’ve even been thinking about a Detail Shop.”
I then asked, “What are you doing now, while in prison, to ensure success?”
He said, “I’m reading a book on small businesses. I think about it a lot. I need to start writing things down.”
The last question I asked Paul was, “Will you come back to prison?”
He said, “I hope not.”
There’s no question in my mind that Paul will come back to prison. Every sign points to it. However, things might be drastically different for Paul if he was engaging in meaningful activities that would tap into his Intrinsic Motivation.
Now here’s an interview I did with a guy who will get out, stay out, and be successful:
Terry Essick is 33. He fell in 1999 and gets out in 2019. He got 20 years for 1st degree murder.
Infraction free for over 5 years.
Spends his days going to school, studying, working out, dog program, and applying what he learns.
Says he’s in prison because as a kid he lacked structure and proper guidance, which lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Describes himself as an outgoing, charismatic, empathic, kind, caring man who is very stern when need be.
Upon release he wants to get into small business management (fitness related). And invest in real estate, and other commodities such as energy, and the stock market.
To prepare for these future events he takes college courses, reads educational books, and watches educational programs. He’s already earned his Certified Training Degree. With his knowledge, he mentors others in here.
Now here’s something that surprised me. I asked him, “Will you be back after you get out?”
He said, “I don’t intend to. But you never know. I mean, I don’t know what fate has in store for me. If someone hurts my family or anyone I love, all bets are off.”
After that last comment, I went from believing there’s no way he’ll be back….to, he very well could be back. I mean after all, he is in for killing a man who was harassing his mother.
For those who don’t know, IMU stands for “Intensive Management Unit”. It’s basically long term segregation. Some guys spend years, even decades in IMU.
So the question is, “How could a filthy, dirt bag, scum-of-the-earth inmate get a jelly-filled powered donut while in IMU?”
Well the answer is actually easier than you think. All the inmate needs to do is cover his window, cause a disturbance, and refuse to comply with directives until his demands are met.
But he shouldn’t get too crazy with his demands. He should keep it simple and reasonable. For example, he should demand a jelly-filled powered donut. This is more than a reasonable request. The simplicity of this demand should result in success.
It’s a win-win for everyone. The inmate gets happily fed, and the S.E.R.T. squad doesn’t have to suit-up and commit controlled acts of violence.
It makes a lot of economic sense as well. Jelly-filled powered donuts are way cheaper than canisters of pepper spray, and all the extra pay that goes to each and every S.E.R.T. member.
Although this post drips with jelly-like sarcasm and powdery satire, it is based on an actual episode that recently took place here at Stafford Creek. An inmate covered his window and refused to comply with directives until he got a donut.
Prison officials can deal with this in one of two ways:
#1 – They can spray him with pepper spray, bum rush his cell, beat him up, and drag him out. Then uncover his window for him.
#2 – Give him a donut.
What do you think they should do?
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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