Sunday, April 26, 2009
Twenty-Three Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp
Today I spoke with a young man who is in a place that I once knew. His name is Brian and he recently self-surrendered to Taft Camp. Brian is serving a sentence that will keep him confined for nine months. He didn’t know that when we sat down to talk. Brian said that his judge had sentenced him to serve one year and one day. He expected to serve every minute of that term in prison. Although I know his peace of mind will not come until he sees a piece of paper that confirms everything I told him, I know that the few hours Brian and I spent talking erased some of his anxiety.
Brian is in that awkward stage that complicates the peace of all new offenders. I told him about my new book, Lessons From Prison, and Brian insisted that I send a few copies to his attorney and one to his wife. He wished that he had found such a book before he self-surrendered, as it would have prepared him for the challenges ahead.
I feel good about myself when I spend these few hours each week talking with new prisoners. As a man who has come to the end of his time in prison, I can relate to the challenges that make these first days difficult. Brian is going to adjust fine. He’s already resting easier now that he has learned about the relief he will receive from his sentence through good time and halfway house placement.
We have a population of approximately 500 men here at Taft Camp, and every week we exchange a few men who are released for a few men who are just beginning. The contrast between the two is striking. Those who are going home look as giddy as children on their way to Disneyland, while those who self-surrendered look totally lost and unsure of themselves. In talking with them, I feel as if I’m doing good deeds. Upon my release, my work will bring these good feelings regularly as I help individuals and family members through their challenging times.
This work in consulting will bring incredible fulfillment to my life, I’m sure., I am confident of that because I can sense the comfort my direction provides when I speak with new prisoners like Brian. Together we mapped out a nine-month plan, as I’m sure that he will release to a halfway house by then. The plan provided Brian with some clearly defined goals that would guide him through more than nine months of confinement. This was a plan he could grow with and use as a compass to lead him through the rest of his life. The plan works together with the values Brian identified as being important in his life, and they are consistent with what he aspires to achieve.
I wrote all about such strategies in Lessons From Prison. They guided me to victory, as in only 23 more mornings, I will finish my last day as a prisoner at Taft Camp.