Where does hope come from in a time and place of adversity? That is the question that I have been asked a few times in the last week since finding out that that I was denied parole and given another 5 years. It is hard to explain that when you come to find out that you are and have been that beacon of hope for so many people for so long. I have heard quite a few times in passing and directly that if a person like me, who has conformed to the rules and regulations and has exceed the expectations of almost everyone, can not make parole and be given another chance at society, how can I even think about it? This is the mindset of a lot of the men here at this moment. Some of them have vowed to give up attending programs that were once thought of as programs that would be looked at favorably. They have vowed to not make the effort to spend too much time involved in programs that would be perceived as making the prison look good. To these men at the end of the day it does not matter and therefore they have lost hope.
What message does this send to our society? That the system does not believe in its own system of rehabilitation. That is the message that everyone is getting here. So it has all been a lie. The masses have been lied to and made to believe that there is a system set up that will make them safer as a society.
One of the statements that come out is that if I can’t make parole, or if I am not deemed parolable, who is? Like that is the question of the day, no of the century. If a person who had the full support of the Executive Staff, and had one of them speak on his behalf and say that I was ready to go back out and that once I arrived there I would be productive, is not deemed appropriate for release the question is (1) who is appropriate and (2) who are they letting out? Aren’t those the people that know the best? Those that are around you and monitor you? They are the ones that can say if and when a person has done all that can be done to become better. The message that is being given here is that they don’t really trust the system that is in place to gauge when an offender has taken the steps to change.
The other day a bus arrived here and on that bus of 40 inmates 10 were violators of parole. Some of them never even made it out the halfway house. Two weeks ago a bus arrived and on the bus of 40 inmates 22 were violators. Now I know that there are quite a few obstacles out there in the world but look at the numbers of guys that are coming back to prison. Now that was just the count of the past month. A bus arrives here every other week and out of every bus there are at least 5 violators on a bus. So who is being let out of prison?
When I went to the parole board I had all of the requirements that are needed for one to get out and stay out. (1) I had a job (2) I had family support (3) i had a savings of money to start out with (4) i had community support (5) I had a stable crime/drug free residence to go home to (6) I had all the proper paper work that is needed to obtain proper ID. So I had all the things that were needed to get out and stay out. So a person who knows this, and most of the inmates here did, is not deemed appropriate for parole it kills the hopes of those who don’t have half of that.
One of the things that I have been telling guys is that when things happen we have to find ways to overcome them. A lot of guys here have had their hopes dashed and have become pessimistic in the possibilities that they have in their lives. I tell them that they must push on because the road to success and personal development is uphill and will be a struggle. Personal development does not stop because someone denies you something. When one is one a journey to be become a whole person it takes trials in different areas to reach that wholeness. So, this is a time for me to practice what I preach. It i hard but it can be done. Nothing is going to deter me from reaching the goals that I have set for myself. I must continue on and work harder.
Where does hope come from? It has to come from within, anything else may create some entitlement and false expectations. When one understands hope they find themselves aligned with faith. Faith is not this esoteric concept or solely a concept of religion. It is a drive and determination that resides in all of us. When hope and faith are aligned together people achieve great things. Obstacles that seemed impossible at one point become possible and achievable. That is the message that I want to sent to others. That there is hope I just need to keep the faith!