Sunday, November 9, 2014
The university semester is coming to an end. Although I no longer teach at San Francisco State University, I still have a great relationship with many of the students. One student who is about to graduate is preparing a research paper. She asked if I would contribute to her research by responding to a series of questions she had about prison. I pledged to respond through a series of blog posts, as I thought others might want to consider my responses.
Question: How would you describe the lifestyle in federal prison?
Although others may have different perspectives, experience convinces me that life in federal prison is what a man chooses to make of it. Clearly, while traversing through weeks, months, years, or decades, a prisoner may feel as if architects designed prisons to extinguish hope. The system does not provide a mechanism through which an individual can distinguish himself in a positive way. Administrators govern through the threat of further punishment, or harsher conditions, rather than through the promise of incentives. That negative environment spawns a subculture that discourages positive, individual growth. Recidivism rates, it would seem, tend to support this view as I experienced it.
Nevertheless, individuals who choose can grow through prison. They can choose to reject the criminal lifestyle and reject the discouragement from the infrastructure of confinement. Those who’ve ready about my journey know that I served time in prisons of every security level. While in multiple prisons, I always had opportunities to grow and prepare for a successful return to society. The ‘lifestyle’ of prison did not encourage people in prison to pursue the type of adjustment that guided my journey. But I found that an individual who chooses can succeed in leading a meaningful, relevant life in spite of the prison lifestyle and culture.
Days since my release from prison: 454
Miles that I ran today: 13.13
Miles that I ran so far this week: 13.13
Miles that I’ve run during the month of November: 63.93
Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,114.07
Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 285.93
Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 51.09
My weight for today: 168