Hello I am a Forty-year-old incarcerated man. I am writing in efforts to share my story with as many people as possible. I know what some of you may be thinking, but please bear with me as I introduce myself and tell you a little about my story. First, I must admit, that I never thought I would be in a situation where I would have the desire to share with you in this manor, nevertheless, I come before you in sincere humility hoping to open your minds and provide you with a different perspective on the incarcerated man.
It is with deep remorse that a human being lost his life because of my actions. Twenty years ago, I responded to a threat in the worse way, and I am deeply remorseful for what took place. It is not something that I take lightly and I think about the tragic incident all the time and about the pain I have caused his family.
Prior to being incarcerated, I was a lost teenager, a product of my environment, and a victim of a violent crime. My father was abusive, and my mother was addicted to drugs, leaving me as a child forced to find alternate ways to care for me and my siblings. I’ve been shot, stabbed, burned, disrespected, abused, neglected, beat up, etc.…. As a teenager, I’ve witnessed and experienced many things that a young man at that age should never have to encounter. Thus, I suffered flashbacks, nightmares, embarrassment, anger, frustration, attempted suicide, and many other negative emotions. These unflattering feelings and emotions led me on a search for something “I thought” would easily take the pain away. So, I found alcohol, violence, and certain drugs. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was also moving further and further away from my reality, my truth, and the ability to love myself.
I understand that some of you may find my story to be “all too familiar.” Same ole story of a young man who turns to crime and ends up in jail right…? – – – Before you come to that conclusion I ask you to please, keep reading.
Like many, it took me a long time to recognize the importance of loving myself and to finding the courage to change and look deep within to find that change. As I sit here and write this brief personal introduction, my deepest regret is that a life was lost and I could find positive change or the ability to love myself until I was in prison.
I’ve heard there are people who believe incarcerated individuals can’t find “true” change behind prison walls. For some prisoners, that belief may prove true, but for me change was imminent. While in prison, I have challenged myself and developed a keen sense of determination to focus on ways to better myself. On a mission to positively changing myself and to induce a positive change in others, I refused to use my prison sentence as an excuse to remain the same or to allow my old ways to define me. Living in this prison, or what some prisoners have called, “the belly of the beast,” I have been committed to moving forward and becoming a better man every day.
Because of that decision, I have successfully completed over 3 dozen programs with a variety of focuses as well countless hours of counselling and therapy. I have spoken to thousands of at risk youth regarding crime prevention, I have spoken to several college students and professors about life as an incarcerated man, I have led countless religious services, and I have been accepted and enrolled in a degree program at Boston University where I am currently taking courses towards attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Most importantly I have come into a complete understanding of who I am, and whose I am.
Now and for the past several years I have established a relationship with God that has truly led me into the man I am today. I understand that there is a stereotypical outlook on incarcerated individuals that have claimed to “find God” through “jail religion”. Those classifications do not depict my relationship with God. My relationship with God is genuine, it is pure, and I know that it has only been God that has gotten me this far in life. I am grateful for his forgiveness and for loving me despite my actions. I pray daily for myself and others that God would continue to lead me, because without God I am nothing. God has humbled me and completely turned my life around – and for that I am grateful.
In the first few years of my sentence, I learned from some other incarcerated individuals of the importance of doing the time and not allowing the time to do me. In other words, the focus is always on exploring new ways to better myself. Parole has not always been an option for me, yet I have remained focused on self- improvement. Throughout this focus, I have participated in educational programs, cognitive thinking programs, treatment programs for PTSD, as well as several other programs. I have also made a successful effort to fix and repair old relationships. During my journey through self-improvement I’ve never lost sight of the action that landed me behind prison walls, and for that I am always trying to find ways to give back.
Though prison is not where I envisioned spending most of my life, I can honestly say that the programs, tools and resources made available to me by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, have helped to mould me into the rehabilitated man I am today. Through countless hours of hard work and dedication to self-improvement, I have managed to strip away former misconceptions and make the necessary steps toward creating a healthy positive change within. Today I can say with total conviction that I am a changed man. Of course, this change was not attained without sacrifice. The pain I worked through and worked to uncover was deep within and had been buried under layers and layers of negative emotions and experiences stretching back to my childhood years. On my journey towards total healing and rehabilitation, there were times where uncovering and exposing my hurt was extremely difficult. But God helped me through it all.
As a rehabilitated man, I am now keenly aware of every decision I make, and every decision I have made in the past. Now, as a conscious minded individual, I make no excuses for my past emotional actions and disabilities. I am deeply remorseful for my actions and I am always exploring new ways to improve myself. I am dedicated to continued personal transformation and growth and to doing everything I can to transform all my wrongs into rights.
Today I stand for crime prevention within our youth and my mission is to live a life committed to God and committed to preventing violence and criminal behaviour amongst others.
Change behind walls is possible. I am a true example. I hope to one day find liberation so that I can pursue my mission as stated above. For that I will need much prayer, and I understand my fate is in the hands of the Lord.
Let’s all do our part in uplifting and saving our youth from the perils of gangs, violence, & drugs.
God Bless….and Thank you for taking a few moments to read the words I’ve shared from my heart.