Eric Needs Our Help

Eric Needs Our Help

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Many of our followers are familiar with Eric, who is a frequent contributor to our blog. Read below to learn more about his moving story. The world loves people who help themselves, and now Eric needs some support from the world. Please share his fundraiser, and let’s help him get off to a good start out here.

A few words from Eric

I need your help. Please take a few moments to learn my story, and once you do, I really hope you can find it in your heart to lend a hand. Elements of my story may seem extraordinary, but I assure you that everything you are about to read is completely true and verifiable. Please… read on.

I have been incarcerated for twenty-one years, but I have not wasted my time. I have worked extremely hard, changed my life, earned a PhD in Psychology and Counseling, and dedicated my life to helping others. I have worked as a tutor in the GED program here at the prison for the last fourteen years. I am nearing release, and although I have saved as much as I can, it is not nearly enough to re-launch my life. I desperately need re-entry assistance, and I would greatly appreciate anything you would be willing to give.

Allow me to tell you a little about my journey. In 2001, I took a man’s life in a fight while drunk. I was 21-years-old and addicted to alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamines in a misguided attempt to self-medicate my internal dysfunction. I was staggeringly self-absorbed, and I take total responsibility for both the actions and lifestyle that put me in prison — I did this to myself. And worse, I hurt so many people. I cannot ever change that, as much as I wish I could. I unquestionably deserved to be sent to prison, but I have worked hard to never be a man who belongs here. I have had plenty of time to reflect upon both who I was and who I want to be.

When I was arrested in 2001, I was angry at the world, confused about who I was, oblivious to the pain and suffering I left in my wake, and profoundly undereducated. I didn’t even have a GED. I was stuck in perpetual adolescence, unable to move beyond an egotistical “teenage” mindset. I didn’t care how I affected the world; I only thought about how the world affected me. I had no conception of how backward that was. Once I took responsibility for the pain I caused as a result of my selfishness and violence, I regained the power to determine the direction of my life, and through a dedication to authentic personal, emotional, and spiritual growth, I have arrived at a place where I genuinely want to use my education and personal experiences to positively impact others.

A transformational moment in my life came while I was serving time in disciplinary segregation for fighting. I believe I had a spiritual experience, yet I never want to push my perspective upon others. Although nothing happened that broke the laws of physics, I believe God illuminated to me the fact that I am worth more than the way I had been living, an idea I had never internalized before, and it permanently altered the focus of my life. I didn’t know how to be anything other than what I had always been, and I certainly didn’t know what the future held. Yet, I knew I would never be the same, but I also knew I had to work hard.

I use the metaphor of a weed often — I look back on my young life, and I see that I was a weed. I was ultimately removed from society because my impact was ugly. I brought nothing of worth to anyone. In fact, I was a burden to those who love me the most, and when I finally realized this, I didn’t want to live anymore. I really didn’t. It was at this low point that some educational opportunities came into my life, and I found purpose.

I went on to earn my GED in 2003, and I was given a job as a tutor in 2008, a job I still hold today. I earned an Associate of Arts degree in 2013 and a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling in 2015, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 3.98 GPA. I earned a Master of Counseling degree in 2017, and on December 10, 2021 I completed my doctoral program, earning a PhD in Psychology and Counseling. Moreover, I have accumulated over 350 additional CEU credits toward certification in alcohol and drug counseling. I have everything I need for my license except the 4000 hours of supervised clinical counseling, which I cannot accrue until I am released. However, I am immediately employable in my field. Furthermore, my doctoral research revolved around the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual issues and struggles of homosexuality. I am well-trained and ready to pursue a career of service to hurting people with the second half of my life.

My aim is to positively impact those who struggle with substance abuse problems, identity issues, and spiritual direction. I have overcome similar problems in my own life, and I believe my experiences and insight can provide a unique voice that lends credibility to the counseling of struggling people.

I have made so many mistakes in my life and hurt so many people, and although my violence was over twenty years ago, it remains powerfully present for me. It is the motivating factor behind my desire to help others. I don’t want to hurt anyone ever again. I want to be a channel for light in the world by using my faith in God, my education in counseling, and my experiences of failure, incarceration, and personal growth to benefit others. I can never repay all I have taken from this world, but I can spend the rest of my life giving back.

Although my educational achievements are considerable, I think the best lessons I have learned go beyond academics. I have learned what it means to know who I am, to know my purpose, and to find meaning in my mistakes. I have learned that who I am is okay; I don’t need to hide my imperfections behind a mask or to numb my emotional struggles with alcohol or drugs. I have learned self-awareness, empathy, and personal responsibility. I have learned that my life impacts others and that I have a choice about that impact.

Below is video of Eric’s graduation in prison:

I am a featured writer on this website, and you can read my posts here. It will help you see that I am genuine and serious about helping others. I simply need some help to get started — housing, clothing, food, a phone, and transportation all cost money, and while it is not anyone’s responsibility to provide these things, I am asking for some initial assistance. I am extremely grateful for anything you would be willing to give. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. Stay safe.

From GED to PhD

From GED to PhD

Photo by Taha Mazandarani on Unsplash

I have been incarcerated for over twenty years now, a lifetime for many. When I was 21-years-old, I took a man’s life in a fight that I started. Yet, while I unquestionably deserve to be in prison, I never wanted to be a man who belongs here, and I  have worked hard to never be. It took some time for the momentum of positive energy and self-discipline to become transformative, but I have not wasted my days. On December 10, 2021 I graduated with a PhD in Psychology and Counseling, but my journey goes beyond academics.

I arrived at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution an emotionally underdeveloped 21-year-old with little education. I didn’t even have a GED, and I was profoundly self-centered and insecure. For  years I used alcohol, drugs, and lies to cover my shame and conceal my psychosocial dysfunction, but when I arrived here and the heavy metal door shut behind me… and on my life, I was left with nothing but the truth of who I was and what I’d done. I grieved over the loss of my life–as any narcissist would, but deep down, I knew I had hurt so many people, one of whom would never go home. I grieved for him, too, and I knew I must do something different. I could not stay who I was.

Not much real change happened in the first couple years of my incarceration. The system is structured far more around order and security than rehabilitation, and I didn’t know how to change myself or be anything other than what I had always been. Consequently, it took time for me to learn how to be different, and it wasn’t easy.

A transformational moment in my life came while I was in disciplinary segregation after a fight. I had what I believe to be a spiritual experience, which I describe in an earlier blog post on this platform, and it redirected the focus of my life–at that point, although I did not yet know what my future held, I knew there was something more for me. My life was not forfeit. I knew there was a purpose for me that I had to pursue.

I prayed often after I was released back into general population. Nothing too pious or formal, but a sort of running commentary with God. I never  heard an audible response, but  whenever I would pray about direction or ask for guidance, I always felt a one-word response in my spirit: Learn. That is all I was given. So… I pursued it with all of me, leading to significant educational achievement.

I earned my GED in 2003, and in early 2008 I was hired as a tutor in the Education Department, a job I still hold today. Through a career development site available in the computer lab, I found a university that offered distance learning for the incarcerated, and I contacted them.

My mother had recently received some money, and she asked me if I needed anything. I could have asked for trivial, comfort-oriented things, but I told her about the educational opportunity I had found, and she was on board. She paid for my entire education, from the first course in my associate degree program to the final practicum for my doctoral program. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude, for she very likely saved my life.

I use the metaphor of a weed often — I look back on my young life, and I see that I was a weed. I negatively affected all the good around me, and I was ultimately removed because my impact on those around me was universally ugly. I brought nothing of worth to anyone, and when I realized this, I simply had no desire to live because I knew I was a burden to everyone, especially those who love me. I just didn’t want to keep going if I could not be any better than I was. It was during this low period that these educational opportunities came into my life.

The rest is really history from an academic standpoint. I earned an Associate of Arts degree in 2013, a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling in 2015, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 3.98 GPA. I finished my Master’s of Counseling degree program in 2017, and I finally finished my educational journey in 2021, completing my PhD program. Moreover, I have accumulated over 350 additional CEU credits toward earning my certification in alcohol and drug counseling. I have everything I need for my license except the 4000 hours of clinical counseling, which I cannot get in here. I am immediately employable in my field, however.

The best lessons I have learned go beyond academic achievement. I have learned what it means to know who I am, to know my purpose, and to find meaning in the pain of my own mistakes. I have learned that I don’t need to wear a mask to hide my flaws or to use drugs and alcohol to numb my emotional struggles. I have learned self-awareness, empathy for others, and acceptance of my weaknesses. I don’t need to force others to view me the way I want them to, and I don’t need to judge others in order to feel better about being me. In my journey from GED to PhD, I have learned how to be authentically me, and there is no greater gift that God could give me.

I have made so many mistakes in my life and hurt so many people, and although my violence was over 20 years ago, it remains powerfully salient for me — it is a motivating factor in my life. I don’t want to hurt anyone ever again or give space to or be a channel for darkness in the world. I want to be conduit for light and contribute significantly to the good in the world by using my faith in God, my education in counseling and psychology, and my experiences of failure, incarceration, and personal development to benefit others, especially those wrestling with issues of identity and addiction to harmful substances or behaviors.

I look forward to the next step in my journey of becoming all I was designed to be, and I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way, my friends and family, my mother, and the Blue Mountain Community College instructors for whom I work have been life-changing influences in my life. I simply could not be where I am today without all of them — I am endlessly grateful. I have said it before: although I ended up in prison as a result of my own self-centeredness, prison is not the end of my story.

Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction

Note from the staff:

We started this organization in an effort to help inmates and expose the public, one connection at a time, to the current state of our justice system. We also want adopters to have every tool to help their friends on the inside. Harm Reduction is a big part of this.

Many of our followers have enjoyed blog posts written by our dear friend Martin Lockett. We are happy to announce that Martin completed his 17 1/2 year sentence and walked into freedom in June of this year. We were able to attend his first public speaking event in Eugene, Oregon in August shortly after his release, and are looking forward to another chance to hear him speak this month in Salem, Oregon. He’s employed as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his clients. Martin is available for public speaking engagements, and you can read more about him on his website

We’ve asked Martin to write about Harm Reduction for our readers. Specifically:

  • What is it?
  • Why is it important?
  • How can you apply it to your adoptee (or anyone)?

The term Harm Reduction is well known within the substance abuse treatment community and is one that has caused much controversy. It is not well known to many in the general public, but it should be. Allow me to explain what Harm Reduction is.

Harm reduction (HR) is a philosophy that promotes human rights and equal justice. It focuses on positive changes people make while in the throes of their addiction. It is predicated on meeting people where they are to reduce harmful consequences of their use, but doing so with compassion and dignity. Harm reduction runs counter to the often-seen model of total abstinence because HR places an emphasis on mitigating one’s harm to self through drug/alcohol use while total abstinence punishes use. Harm reduction seeks to improve the life of the person by empowering them to make safer choices in their use and leans on them for ideas of how they can best be served.

For instance, say you encounter someone who is addicted to meth, and he uses it intravenously. He often uses with other friends, and they share needles. He works a job and finds that his use makes him underperform at his duties because he doesn’t get proper sleep. He has come to a treatment program and wants to quit using but doesn’t think he can – at least at this moment. But he knows the way he uses (sharing needles) is not good and wants help with that. Many programs would require he abstain entirely to stay in their program, but a harm reduction approach is going to meet him where he is, understand that he has goals for his life and his use, and any reduction to the harm he is putting himself in is considered a success.

At this point, a treatment plan for this client could be drawn up to include getting him enrolled in a needle-exchange program, eating square meals daily, and going to bed by a certain time. It would be understood that this client would still use meth during this time, but over time, as he adjusts to using more safely, the focus could then be to revisit his initial goal of abstaining. If this is still his goal, then that would be the aim; if is it not, then that is acceptable as well. The goal is to always reduce the harm caused by using and increase the quality of life of the client. Working with this client to improve other areas of his life would be the next goal. The client would direct his treatment plan and the goals of his life. Again, a much different approach than an abstinence-based treatment program.

This approach is important because it affords people dignity and autonomy in how their lives will be lived. It empowers one to make choices that will improve their life, which, over time, will enable them to continue to make good decisions and reap the benefit of them. They may reach a point where they can see how not using substances at all would be beneficial, but again, this is not for anyone else to decide for them. Treating human beings as independent thinkers and stewards of their own lives is what we all desire. Not being subjected to others’ judgement is what we all desire – this approach affords that. When abstinence-based approaches operate from a punitive standpoint (when someone relapses while in their program), it shames the client and makes him/her feel they are a failure who is not deserving of forgiveness. After all, they have encountered this from many in their families and friend circles for years. This ostracization is only reinforced when chastised through an abstinence-based program that allows no room for error. Now, let’s look at how the HR approach can be applied to Adopt an Inmate and how it can be applied.

Many who are incarcerated have not been met with compassion, understanding, non-judgement, autonomy, and justice. These may sound like basic offerings humans offer one another, but they are not, particularly for those who have found themselves mired in a life of addiction and incarceration. These principles can be displayed by you, the adopter, through simple measures and gestures.

  • Writing letters of encouragement
  • Sending educational books/material
  • Accepting phone calls/video visits (at whatever degree you’re comfortable with)
  • Connecting inmates with resources in their community upon release
  • Exploring with inmates what they are passionate about and reaffirming their ability to
    do be successful
  • Helping find and send internet material that is conducive to meeting their goals
  • Sending holiday/birthday cards

These are examples of just a few ways to display a harm reduction approach toward your adoptee but believe me when I say they go a long way. It conveys a powerful message that someone cares and wants to support me – which is reason enough for me to begin to believe in myself and want better for my life. You can decide with your adoptee what will work best in terms of support, but you understand the goal of this approach and how you can help change someone’s life in a meaningful way. It does not focus on what got the person in prison or condemning their behavior through a program that gets them to confess every bad thing they’ve ever done; it meets them where they are and allows them to focus on becoming more responsible for their lives and how they want to live it going forward. And make no mistake, this mentorship dynamic is mutual – you will most certainly be enriched and educated along the way. Humanity is made better when we all help each other and learn from one another.

A Dash Defined

A Dash Defined

As of August 2021, I have officially completed my PhD program. I have earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling and Psychology, with an emphasis on the integration of psychology and theology. I have reached the apex of academic achievement, and I have done it while serving a life sentence in prison.

I have worked so hard and overcome so much. I remember the day I was arrested. I didn’t even have a GED, and I was so self-centered and self-absorbed, my worldview so narrow. I am a completely different person today. I have come so far on the journey toward becoming the man I was designed to be. One important thing I have learned along the way is that all my hard work and perseverance has not led me to the end of a journey, but prepared me for a beginning. I am now more equipped to use my life experiences, in conjunction with my education, in service to others, which will define my dash. I have found myself, and I can give of myself from a place of authenticity, meaning, and purpose.

I read a question once that has stuck with me. It was one of those profound questions that cannot be answered completely until after one’s life is over. It asks, “What did you do with your dash?” While some are longer than others, we all get one–after our lives are over, there will be a date when we were born and a date when we died… and a dash in between. Whether a literal dash on a headstone or a figurative one etched in time, we all get one, and all of them impact the world, some for better, some for worse.

The superhero, Colossal, stated that “Over a lifetime, there are only 4 or 5 moments that make you a hero.” Well, I think that there are 4 or 5 decisions that determine your character as well. We tend to think of heroes as having superhuman qualities, able to solve immediate and impossible problems with other worldly force. However, I think real life heroes display extraordinary courage and perseverance in order to open closed minds, to impact their environment positively, and to make change in the lives of others… and to do it on purpose.

During the last 20 years that I have been incarcerated, I have come into contact with some fantastically ignorant people. The most abrasive among them are those who view a long prison term as an accomplishment. Personally, I disagree. I believe a prison term is the result of a wasted opportunity at life, the inevitable destination of the profoundly unaware. Yet, I have learned that prison doesn’t have to define you, but what you do with your prison time will… every time.

Prison time is extremely difficult and painful, but it can be the crucible of pain and struggle that makes a person stronger, whether one wants it to or not–how we respond to our mistakes and to our hurts will almost always determine the quality of our future, and the definition of our dash.

I am in prison, and I am guilty. I deserved to be sent to prison. I wasted my young life. I hurt so many people, and it haunts me. The pain of the young man I used to be and the harm I have caused threatened to overwhelm me during my first few years of prison. I was emotionally isolated and had no psychoactive substances to mask the pain. There were times when I didn’t want to keep going, times when I didn’t think I could, and times when I didn’t think it mattered. I was on autopilot for several years, lost in the consequences of my own sins, knowing I deserved them.

Sometimes in life, you come across people that bump into you, and without your awareness — and perhaps without even theirs — they change your direction like asteroids colliding in space. In the middle of my emptiness, I was given the gift of people who believed in me, even when I wasn’t sure I could believe in myself. It only took a moment for my mother to pay for my education, for the GED instructors to give me a job as a tutor, and for so many along the way to provide love, assistance, and support — and for some to cut me a break when I needed one. Those people are the heroes of my story, and I simply could not have come as far as I have without them.

I am grateful for all the support and care I have been given along the way. For a man like me, coming from where I do, having gone through all that I have, and having hurt so many people… for anyone to give me a chance to choose to be different amounts to giving me a chance to be human, to accept my own imperfections, to love and be loved, and to experience success in the midst of failure. I was one of their four or five moments, but the moments they chose to use on me have literally altered the outcome of my life, and the impact of my dash. Everyday heroes have prepared me for the next step in the journey of my life, allowing me an opportunity to knowingly make the right four or five decisions that have permanently shaped my character going forward, decisions that — were it not for them — would have, in all likelihood, been the wrong ones, and carried me further into the abyss of narcissism.

The biblical definition of ‘angel’ is messenger’ … and many times ancient prophets did not even know they were speaking the Words of the Creator. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God’s messengers are to love like Him (1 John 4:9-11), then the people who loved me enough to give me a chance are, quite literally, angels in the truest sense, and I am eternally grateful.

I am not yet free to deploy my education, personal development, and past experiences to benefit others on a broad scale. I still have work to do if I want my life to matter. For I have learned that I matter the most to my world when others matter to me. I have never been a hero to anyone, but the impact of those who believed in me helped me to overcome my own failures, which reverberate through me to the lives of others. My dash is not yet written in stone. We all get one, and it only takes four or five moments and four or five decisions to define it. I have never been a hero, but because of my angels, I want to be one.

Doing Time Well

Doing Time Well

Doing time in prison is a universally difficult experience, and the overwhelming majority of those incarcerated came in totally unprepared for life on the inside. As a result, most come out worse than when they went in, but a few defy the odds and overcome the prison environment in order to transcend the mistakes of their past and become better people. I have been incarcerated for 20 years now, and I’ve learned a few things about doing time well. Hopefully you will never need this information, but if you have a loved one going to prison, you might think about letting them read this.

What is of utmost importance is that the time be used productively, which does not happen automatically – nobody is set up for success upon entering the prison system. However, the ultimate deciding factor that shapes everything else about the time spent on the inside is the choice to take responsibility for your actions and not blame others. We put ourselves here – not the broken homes in which we grew up not the police or the district attorney or the judge, and not the correctional officers who run the prison. We did this, and we must not only recognize that fact, but we must also own the pain and turmoil left in our wake before we can move forward with our lives. Unless we do that, we will not have an effective springboard from which to launch, and we will be trapped in a destructive cycle of compensation behaviors that impede growth and stifle the actualization of inner potential.

Once we have taken responsibility for the pain we have caused others by our selfish actions, we regain the power to determine the direction of our lives. We are not victims of circumstance, and when we internalize this reality, we can use our time in prison to learn how to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We can summon the motivation and determination to stay physically healthy, and we can expand our understanding of what it means to be a good person. Through relentless practice, we can make prison time an advantage in our pursuit of meaning and purpose. Yet, we still must do the time.

There are six primary things to avoid in prison. A failure to circumvent them effectively will, without a doubt, make the prison experience far more difficult. Gangs, drugs, gambling, informing on other inmates (ratting), homosexual activity, and talking about other inmates are all issues that have no good outcome. They should be avoided with vigor.

Gangs can offer acceptance, a degree of companionship, and the protection of numbers, but they come at a price – you are not your own. If you throw in with a group on the inside, you are no longer able to do your own thing. Using drugs in prison will put you in debt fast, and owing people in prison opens the door for violence and financial or sexual exploitation, you never want to put yourself at the mercy of sociopaths. Gambling holds another potential for exploitation, and sharks often swim in the waters that surround poker tables and sports books. Tread with extreme caution. Rats get hurt – never tell on anyone, and keep that which is not your business, not your business. Whether you are gay, bisexual, straight or anything else, homosexual activity in prison is never a good idea. It attracts the wrong crowd, invites predators, and can lead to violence, disease and victimization. Finally, keep other people’s names out of your mouth – if you don’t talk about anyone, then your words can’t be misrepresented.

Avoiding these six things will increase your safety and personal peace exponentially. The overwhelming majority of problems on the inside flow from one of these six issues. Those who come to prison often miss this fact, and whether through ignorance or a lack of self-control, get caught up in a cycle of violence and exploitation.

How you carry yourself is crucial as well. Be respectful both to staff members and other inmates. If you are respectful, you will usually receive a greater degree of respect from others. Don’t be a tough guy or a bully – it’s ugly, and all it does is show everyone how insecure you are. However, you must stand up for yourself, but that doesn’t always mean a physical fight. Communication and authenticity, although frightening and countercultural in a prison setting, will often lead to positive resolutions. Yet, there may be times when you must physically defend yourself, and if you are confronted physically, fight back. Defend yourself, but do it ethically – you do not need to stand tall in here, but you do need to stand up.

Prison is an honor culture where often seemingly insignificant slights can be met with sudden violence, but losing a fight does not always mean a loss of respect. Yet, a failure to defend yourself will lead to exploitation every time. Be mindful, however, and do not set out to hurt anyone – if you knock your opponent down, allow him to get back up or leave him be. Do not follow him to the ground or kick him, and never use a weapon – you don’t want new criminal charges. Violence is inevitable in prison, but you should make sure yours is defensive and never offensive.

It is also important to establish a routine. Get into a groove, set some goals, and work towards accomplishing them. Use smaller goals as milestones on the journey toward reaching the larger ones. Put your head down and put in some work on yourself and your life. Your time will pass quicker, and your self-esteem will improve as you see progress in your life.

Resist institutionalization. That is, depend as little as possible on the system. The encroachment of a certain amount of institutionalization is inevitable after years of incarceration, but an over-reliance upon routine, on others, on processes can lead to helplessness, anxiety, and an avoidance of people. Change your routine up from time to time. Get out of your safe space once in a while – growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Stay active and stay social. You may not always like those around you, but you need to stay human. Just be careful with whom you associate – remember, most of the people in prison are untrustworthy, and they will drag you into their drama. Some warning signs are those who have been to prison several times, talk bad about others behind their backs, fight a lot, are highly manipulative or exploitive, racist, overly controlling or overly nice, gang members, bring negative energy, complain a lot, are creepy or make you uncomfortable – if any of these are observable in a person, you should disengage. Be kind and cordial, but keep them at arms length and never do business with them.

I have been here for two decades, and in all that time, I have only met 4 people I consider friends, people I trust. In prison, you’ve got to accept that there will be extended periods of loneliness – savor the moments of genuine laughter and peace. They are often few and far between. Prison time is slow time, empty time. You’ve got to fill it with positive things or the darkness will cling to your personality and control your thoughts and behaviors. Fill your time with education, spirituality, reading, exercise, healthy competition, or anything that relieves stress and makes you better – and do it on purpose. Don’t sleep all day and do your time feeling sorry for yourself. Get up and grow!

Finally, no matter how much time you are doing, whether a lot or a little, remember you get out someday – that day will arrive and in order to be successful when it does, you need to be prepared for it. Seek vocational training if you can, acquire some skills you can use in the pursuit of your future. Increase your social skills, job interviewing techniques, self-control, and anger management. Save money and NEVER screw over the people who have helped you while you were on the inside. The universe aids the honorable, and luck favors the well-prepared. When preparation meets opportunity, potential can be actualized.

Look, it is really up to you. You get to decide what kind of person you are going to be each day. You can be a thug, self-centered and dangerous. You can be addicted to substances or behaviors. You can be a car thief or burglar. You can be a liar and a cheat if you want to be, but you don’t have to be – while it may not feel like it, it is very much a choice. Do you want to be in and out of prison the rest of your life? The department of Corrections will keep a light on and a bunk open for you. Sure, it is easier to come back to prison after you have been here, but it is your life. You can squander it behind these iron bars and razor-wired fences. You can either become someone who overcomes the mistakes of his past, or you can be defined by them and doomed to repeat them. Doing time well means coming out of prison a better person than when you went in to prison. The deck may very well be stacked against you, but enough with the excuses. Don’t follow the crowd. Do the time; don’t let the time do you.