July 15, 2015

At first I thought having to adjust to this new type of prison environment(open dorms) would be extremely difficult. Amazingly enough, my transition has been relatively smooth. I already knew what this side of Madison was like, so I prepared myself as best as possible, knowing that as long as I stick to my consistant daily routine, keeping myself as busy as possible, everything else would fall into place. Maybe a lot of it also has to do with the fact that I’m on my way out of these prison gates that things just don’t affect me as much. Or maybe it’s because I’ve had so much practice over these last 4 1/2 years, dealing with a variety of adversities. Whatever the case maybe, I’ve been able to move along with ease. I continue to adhere to my goals each day, improving myself mentally and physically, preparing for a lasting, successful, and meaningful future. There is a tendency, when many inmates are incarcerated, to think that simply being released from prison is the solution. Many men/women are so overwhelmed with being incarcerated that the primary focus is in getting out, with no real clarity about the responsibilities that come with release. I myself have felt this way countless times in the past. So we as offenders can easily be blindsided by the stressors of life and find ourselves back in the trap of reacting to the conditions that we don’t yet fully understand. BUT WE DO HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE! The penal system is not designed to help rehabilitate us offenders. No, these so called “Correctional” facilities are designed to be a revolving door, always open and welcoming the reoffenders back in for another stay. Only we have the power to change our fate and take control of our future. Most of us return to communities with critical needs such as housing, employment, mental health, substance abuse issues, etc. Many return to communities that are unprepared to address these issues, and as a result most men/women released from correctional institutions do not reintegrate back into the community successfully and instead return to crime, thus feeding the powerful, relentless recidivism rates that plague our country. Because of the way these prisons are designed, most of us who enter prison, leave with the same problems that got us there/here to begin with. It’s totally up to us as individuals to make the changes necessary to moving foward, successfully conquering these statistics. I may not be as educated and well spoken or written as the footsteps of the men I’ve followed throughout my sentence, like Michael Santos, and Justin Paperny, but I’ve certainly taken the necessary steps to emulate their lives and atone for my own past decisions which inevitably led me to where I am today. To have a successful reentry, one must be equipped with the skills and resources that will allow us to remain stable, crime-free and a productive member of society. Drug abuse affects behavior and attitudes. I know and believe that a person can change their drug abuse problems by addressing the needs for change and equipping ourselves with the tools needed to live a stable life. I’ve already started this process and have sustained a stable, drug free life, starting from inside these prison walls. Too often we don’t take the time to study our life situations. I lived this way for decades. I got caught up in reacting, without clarity as to how to change my situations in life. My own thinking was my worst enemy! Now I’ve learned to take charge of my life and live more productively by taking control of the thoughts and feelings that go on inside of me. Because our thinking controls so much about us, we can learn to control our lives by controlling our thinking. I thank God everday for leading me to this five year prison sentence that truly saved my life. Talking on the phone with my family about coming home soon has sparked some very noticable fears in there lives. It pains me to think about what they must be going through, the ever present fear of the unknown. ‘what is my son going to do when he gets out of prison’. There’s only one thing I can do to alleviate any of this discomfort. Unfortunately this wont happen over night. All I can do is live a meaningful, drug free life, as a loving father and son, and a contributing member of society from this day forward. It’s going to take a lot of work, there will be many bumps in the road ahead. But I certainly look forward to the process…..

Steven Dybvad

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