Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Forty-Two Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp
In yesterday’s blog I wrote about the importance of leading a proactive adjustment That simply means that a successful prisoner does not wait for the prison system to dictate his adjustment pattern. Instead, the prisoner who chooses to serve his time successfully, initiates his own adjustment. Doing so requires him to adhere to the second step, which means he begins with the end in mind.
Prisoners who succeed know exactly what they’re striving to achieve. It makes little difference whether they’re serving sentences of one year or they don’t expect release dates to come for ten years. If they can envision how they want to emerge from the prison experience, they can manage their day-to-day adjustment more effectively.
Too many prisoners meander through their sentences. Instead of contemplating how they want to emerge, and the manner in which they want to live the remainder of their lives, they seem to serve one day at a time, or worse yet, they serve their sentences hour by hour. That is not a strategy that leads to success for people who live beyond prison boundaries nor does it help those inside.
Let me paint the picture by contrasting two prisoners I knew inside Taft Camp. Mike was a former contractor who was serving an 18-month sentence. Steve was a health care administrator who was serving a 15-month sentence. Both men had been convicted of white collar crimes, and both were college graduates. They served their sentences differently, however.
Mike hated every day of his time inside. He tried to sleep as much of his sentence away as possible. He continuously harped on how unjust it was that he was in prison. Mike smoked several cigarettes each day, he gained weight, and a combative attitude led him to segregation twice. As a consequence of disciplinary problems, Mike lost his eligibility for halfway house consideration.
Steve, on the other hand, thought about the career challenges he would face upon release. His felony conviction was going to interfere with his ability to work as a health care administrator. Instead of dwelling on what he could not do, or the freedoms that he lost, Steve thought about steps he could take to open new career opportunities. He thought about both his strengths and his weaknesses, then figured out what he needed to do to emerge successfully.
Although Steve perceived difficulties if he were to seek employment as an administrator, he recognized his knowledge of health care could lead him to a career in consulting. To prepare for that type of employment, he recognized that it would help to hone his knowledge of Medicare, Medicaid, and other bureaucracies. Steve had an end in mind. He knew the career he wanted to pursue, and he knew that he would need to spend every day of his sentence preparing for such a career.
Those who begin serving their sentences with the end in mind lead more successful adjustments.