Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why Am I Documenting My Prison Term?

I’ve begun my fourth month as a blogger. It took me nearly that long to learn what the word blog actually meant. The word blog is a conflation of two words: web and log. I can’t believe three months have passed. It feels like yesterday I sat to write my introductory blog. At the time I never imagined blogging would have such an impact on my life.

Recently a student asked me why I blog. He wanted to know if there are any reasons besides my standard response of, “helping others persevere through the criminal justice system.” The answer is yes. I have other reasons for contributing to a blog.

Blogging has helped me adjust to prison and provides a sense of connection to the world. Some men exercise all day, some read, and some sleep. I blog. I don’t feel like I’m in prison when I’m writing and I find the process both cathartic and soothing. Without patting myself on the back (okay … I’m patting myself on the back), blogging takes courage. Like millions of Americans, I maintain a diary. The difference, however, is that my diary, my life, is posted daily on the Internet for anyone to read and dissect.

Through three months as a blogger, I’ve surmised that my blogs have real value or currency. The letters in my locker provide tangible proof that I’m helping others.

Blogging is also helping me return to the core values that once embodied my life. As a young man and athlete, my life was virtuous. My teammates would have said I was a man of integrity, loyalty and discipline. Everything changed when I entered the cutthroat and ruthless world of money management. Blogging, along with introspection, is helping transform me back into the man that made my parents proud. My only regret? I wish I had started sooner.

Justin Paperny

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