My experience of living for 26 years as a federal prisoner shows that I am intimately familiar with adversity. More importantly, I’m experienced with overcoming struggle. I returned to society on August 12, 2013, with values, skills, and resources that few would expect for a man who served decades in prison. My story is a testament that any individual can overcome struggle. Yet triumphing over struggle does not happen by accident. Rather, it requires vision and discipline. This website and books I wrote show how I learned this concept of a values-based adjustment. Since my release from prison, I’ve been working to build a career by showing others how to do the same.
After my conviction in federal court for trafficking in cocaine, I realized the colossal mistake that I had made as a young man. I was 23 years old when I came across a philosophy book that others had buried in a box beneath some metal stairs at the Pierce County Jail. At the time, I didn’t know what philosophy meant, but I flipped through the pages trying to learn. When I came across the story of Socrates, I knew that I found a source of inspiration. The story I read described Socrates’ imprisonment and told the story of how he responded to the death penalty imposed upon him. Rather than running away from his troubles, Socrates spoke about the importance of facing struggle with dignity.
After reading the story of Socrates, I made a commitment to face the challenges of my life with dignity. That approach inspired me to find or create steps I could take to reconcile with society. At the time, I didn’t know what it would mean to reconcile with society, but days of contemplation led me to project what law-abiding citizens would expect from a man in prison. I concluded that people would expect me to work toward:
- educating myself,
- contributing to society,
- and building a support network that would have a vested interest in my success upon release.
I followed that principled path every day of my confinement. In my books I wrote extensively about the journey. The thumbnail description is that I earned an undergraduate degree from Mercer University in 1992 and I earned a master’s degree from Hofstra University in 1995. To contribute to society, I wrote and published extensively to help others understand more about prisons, the people they hold, and strategies for growing through confinement. That effort of reaching out beyond prison boundaries empowered me to build an extensive support network. I even found the love of my life, Carole, and we married on June 24, 2003 while I still had longer than 10 years remaining to serve.
My story is well documented. Books I wrote explain the prison system and steps I took to overcome all challenges. Others can find meaning in those books, or they may retain me to work with them on an individual basis as they confront their own challenges.
I am building a career to show others how to confront adversity and become more than current circumstances or bad decisions of the past. Please contact me to discuss how I can help you or your organization. Or book me for consulting services through the store on this website and I will contact you within 24 hours.
Partial List of Endorsements
The various drop-down menus offer extensive amounts of free content, and my books are available at a reasonable amount for those who want more detailed information. I am totally transparent and I encourage those who would like to follow the path I am on to review my Daily Logs. They document the life I’ve been leading since my prison term ended. For the newest articles that I publish, please visit the What’s New tab. For summaries of the courses that I teach at San Francisco State University and student comments, please visit the San Francisco State University tab. For a sample video of my lecture style, please see my speech at University California, Berkeley.