Prison is an unfortunate and depressing place to be, especially for an extended amount of time. I have been in prison for over 22 of the 41 years I’ve been alive. There is no need to describe the horrific aspects of prison because you have either lived through it, known someone who has or learned about it through some form of media, but I will describe it anyway. Prison is a desperately lonely, horribly dangerous, very frustrating and humiliating place.
As a prisoner, we can choose to keep only the negative thoughts of prison in the forefront of our minds and be stagnant in our lives as we serve our time, or we can look at prison in another perspective and depict all the advantages. Yes, there are positive aspects to prison, but due to our environment we must dig deeper to find them and take full advantage. If we succeed in this, we will return to society as a better person instead of what typically happens.
We have already caused harm, fear and damage to ourselves, our families, friends, neighbors and society as a whole. That is what got us here. Each us of, individually, need to decide if we are done with our destructive, immature ways. We need to decide if we are ready to make positive contributions in society or if we will refuse. In my opinion, if you refuse, you deserve to stay in prison. The free world, at least those who are law abiding, do not deserve to live among the likes of who we were before we arrived here. Whether you were a drug user or drug dealer, a thief, an abuser, a killer or even a drunk driver; the majority of society does not deserve to be forced to deal with us. We need to stop being a burden and start being a true benefit in people’s lives. How we choose to live our lives while we are in prison is up to us.
We can treat our confinement as punishment or as rehabilitation. I constantly hear that there is no rehabilitation in prison. That is only true for those who choose not to be rehabilitated. It is like saying there is no education in school. If you choose not to learn or show up then you will not get an education. But, if you put in the work and the effort you can become brilliant. The same goes for our stay in prison. You can choose to not make any changes in your life or you can choose to become a better person whether your prison has rehabilitation programs or not.
Although I have been sentenced to 40 years to life, I live my life as if I’m going home tomorrow. I stay ready and prepared for life in the free world incase my day of freedom arrives before scheduled.
The number one advantage that prison gives us is time. I think most inmates would say that “time lost” is the worst part of prison. I understand that, but we also now have the time to stop, focus and stabilize our lives.
Surviving prison is really not that difficult. Wake up in your free room. Shower with your free water and soap. Put on your free clothes. Eat your free food, and so on. Prison is a very dangerous place, but to survive, you just need to avoid making stupid choices. The real question is will you thrive? That is the challenge.
Prison gives us a unique opportunity that allows us to be selfish and responsible for only ourselves. Honestly, it’s like they dumb us down and bring us back to the very basics. While here, we have the opportunity to spend our entire days working on bettering ourselves. This gives us the time we need to refocus our lives. It’s not like this in the free world. We must take advantage of our “free” time and our “free” living expenses while we are not “free.”
I am a husband and father of four. While I am here, I do not have to assist with getting my kids ready for school or for bed. I do not have to help with homework or after school projects. I do not have to help with the grocery shopping, cooking or cleaning. I WISH I was free so I could do all of these things to help my wife, but I am not. Instead, I take full advantage of the time I have available and help her and our family in different ways. For example, my wife and I are interested in investing and saving for our future but learning about the best way to invest is ever changing and time consuming. My wife is very busy, so she simply sends me the paperwork for our 401(k), I.R.A, Roth accounts, stocks or investments and I become very familiar with it. I also subscribe to financial magazines to keep up with the current stock and financial trends and I’ve read many finance books. My knowledge of the financial world makes me able to make the decisions that produce the desired results for our investments. This allows me to have more responsibilities within our family and marriage.
Another example of using this time to my benefit is by taking college courses. My wife is a paralegal. In order to understand her work I took correspondence courses and obtained a paralegal certificate. I took advantage of my situation of being in prison by completing the two-year program in only 76 days and still maintained an ‘A’ average. This did not happen because I’m unusually smart. I’m just an average person. But due to my situation I was able to make school my full time job. I was able to study 12 – 16 hours a day because I had nothing else to do. When I’m not taking classes I fill my down time with reading and writing. I’m constantly self-educating. I do this so I can be ready to return to society.
Before I could afford to buy my own books and magazines I researched companies and organizations that would send them to me for free, or I simply visited the prison library. There are a lot of programs available to assist us. But we have to do the research to find them. If you are not willing to put in the effort to find the free assistance we have available to us now, do you really think you will take the time to find the help you need when you are free and surrounded by the fast paced free world?
We must maintain a state of mind of accomplishments by completing a goal and then making a new one. Write down your goals. You should have daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, yearly goals and long term goals. Constantly check your progress. Cross off the goals that you have completed. This gives you a visual of your accomplishments. Set your goals high yet attainable. Believe in yourself. Push yourself to constantly improve and do better. Even small improvements more you in the right direction.
My day starts at 3:30am. This allows me to do more before breakfast than most inmates do all day. I am able to exercise, wash up, clean the cell, read/study and write before everyone else in the building wakes up. There is no reason to not be in great shape. There is no reason to not be well read and versed on many subjects.
The way we, as inmates, are portrayed and looked down upon by the free world should bother us. We should refuse to fall into the stereotype of the typical prisoner. Prison should disgust us to the point of never coming back therefore never going back to the bad habits or life style that got us here. But, in order to not come back we must prepare ourselves before we return to society.
We have placed ourselves in a position of even greater obstacles, but that doesn’t mean we can’t succeed. Failure can no longer be an option. Thriving is part of the debt we owe for our crimes. It is a part of our redemption.
We must do the opposite of what we did that landed us in prison. We must serve our best interest which will lead us to serving others. We must better ourselves so we can better those around us and most importantly our younger generations.
Learn More About the Author of this Blog: Cedric Pierce, CLICK HERE
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