Journal Entry – FCC Petersburg – 7/1/13

wreath(This post was written during my second summer at FCC Petersburg. There is no A/C at this prison, so it is extremely hot. But as you can tell by this post, there are some things more important than air conditioning.)

Summer is starting to kick in. We have 4 fans in our room and that helps. The loss of 60 pounds also makes it more bearable!! I just pray and thank God for all He gives me. I wouldn’t trade being here for the A/C at Elkton any day. We’re able to have nightly Bible study here, share our faith and be around a handful of Christian brothers!! What a blessing!

John S.’s dad is very sick. Hospice is with him and he is only expected to live another day. I’ve been praying with John and for his family. I’ve asked God for the ability to help him. Also makes me so grateful for the good health of my parents. John is doing better and he seems to be surrendering his father and his will to God. I am saddened by his loss and also joyful that his father is saved and will be joining Christ in heaven.

Note: John’s dad passed away the next day.

(I saw many men lose loved ones while they were in prison. Men lost parents, wives, brothers, sisters and children. It is probably one of the toughest times. As you prepare to enter prison, keep in mind that this is a possibility and prepare for it emotionally, financially and spiritually.)

Special Circumstance – Sex offenders in prison

There are a few groups who are more at risk than others in prison. Snitches and sex offenders rank at the bottom of the barrel. As my crime was a sex offense I can relate to the fear felt by those who hear the stories of the danger and abuse heaped on sexual offenders. While I didn’t experience any physical abuse, I was on the receiving end of verbal abuse. I chose to be honest about my crime and put my fate in God’s hands. For five years he protected me and kept me safe.

So if you are convicted of a sexual offense how can you prepare for prison? Most of the preparation is the same as anyone facing prison. But there are a few things you can do to help you and your family prepare.

1. Get help – If you are guilty, it is critical you reach out and get help. Work with a therapist and/or pastoral counselor to help you understand how you got to where you were and how to overcome the problem. My wife and I spent hundreds of hours in counseling over the 8 months prior to my incarceration. It was very expensive, but worth every penny. It will help you repair your relationships, overcome your addictions and create a plan for the future. It will also help you when you stand in front of the judge.

2. Decide early how you want to handle it when you are asked about your crime. And you will be asked. I chose early on to be honest. I started out trying to lie, but I couldn’t do it. Plus, with Google, anyone can find out the truth with a quick call to their family. For me, I believe my remorse was obvious and that by being honest I was setting a level of respect. But you have to do what you feel comfortable with. There are people who are harmed because of their crime, I won’t lie about that.

3. Create a circle of a few friends whom you trust. It isn’t easy to know who to trust in prison. But once you get a sense of people, you can start to create a circle of people who protect each other’s back. Plus, you are less of a target if you are not a loner. For me, I chose to be part of a Christian group and the church. This offered me both spiritual support and a sense of security.

So, are there risks to being a sex offender in prison? Yes. Can you survive? Yes. If you would like to discuss this in more detail you can contact us and we will gladly help you.

 

 

 

NY Times – Let Prisoners Take College Courses

safb_classroomThis is a nice op-ed piece from a prisoner in Attica who is advocating offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) to inmates through the television system in institutions. It makes perfect sense to me. Sadly, because of our society’s (faulty) mindset that results in warehousing of prisoners rather than offering opportunities to improve themselves and increase their chance of success, we are stuck in a revolving-door cycle of recidivism. I saw it firsthand. While not every inmate will take advantage of these services, those who do will more likely become productive members of society rather than just another statistic.

If you do end up in prison, there are a few opportunities to take classes, learn a trade, and improve your body, mind and spirit. Take advantage of them. Don’t waste the years sitting on your bunk, watching the Real Housewives and learning how to be a better criminal. It is incumbent on us to prove the money invested in these programs delivers results or we will lose them.