The program that i developed was developed with the intent of it being some what of an guide for young men that, for whatever reasons have found themselves in similar situations that i have been in through out the years. The program that we have here is a smaller version of the program that I developed and it is by far one of the most popular programs here.
There is a lot of mention of reentry and what is needed to help men get out and stay out. My goal is to thwart as many as i can from coming. I feel that this is a program that is built around relationships, something that is often missing from many programs. What I have been through, seen and come from legitimize what I intend to do with this program.
I have been through many programs as a kid and adult and the things that i present in this program are the things that were missing from all the others that I have participated in. There was no accountability nor was there any emphasis placed on choices, goals and responsibilities. The crime or behavior was always dealt with and not the human that committed the crime, that had the anti social behavior. As a youth these are the things that ones needs to know and understand. Don’t try to scare me straight, I grew up in between Compton Ca. and Washington DC when both cities were at its worse, do you think that a person screaming and hollering is going to scare me? Don’t tell me about all of the people who have died or ended up in prison because of their behavior. In my mind, at that age, that is not me and not going to happen to me. So I knew that when i developed this program that there had to be another approach.
As far as prison…when I think back the my early years in prison there were many things that I needed that I never got. One of the benefits that I had were the older men around me refused to let me further waste the potential that they saw in me. They made me go and get my GED. They made me carry myself in a manner that would be looked upon as being respectable. They didn’t allow me to fall into the traps of drugs, exhortation, robbery, alcohol, sports and homosexuality. I know that this is a touchy issue, the issue of homosexuality, but here in prison these are acts that are not committed with the same intent as someone out in the free world. I have seen quite a few guys die over homosexuals. Sometime the men become too possessive and the lines become blurred. In the penal system the above things are the things that most guys die for and about.
What makes this program work? One of the things that make it work is that it touches most of the aspects that one needs to be able to make the best of this situation and to live a productive life. there is a connection with the men that we all share a similar story. Many of the programs that have been developed throughout the years by those who have never experienced this reality are good programs but they lack that experiences and often the message falls on deaf ears. True when one is engaged in the change process it should not be about who gives the information but the information itself. In an ideal world that is how things would be but the reality is that those who have experienced this often wrestle with “trust” and “honesty”. It is easy to BS someone who many not know what to look and listen for.
When we have our classes here I can look into the crowd and see who the real tough guys are and who is trying to get by. I can tell the ones that are there to change from the ones that are not trying to at this point. I have nothing to gain nor lose by telling a guy that he is not being honest and that he needs to change the way that he thinks. It is also an inspiration that I have the courage to step outside of the “convict” mentality and be there person that many of these men want to be. Sometimes these men need to feel that they have allies in this journey. These are a few things that makes this program work.