It has come to my attention that my last Blog entry was date 3-16-17, of course that should have been 3-16-18 … yep, I’m losing my darn mind!
Some of the Staff Members here @3RVRS have put together a Pre-Release Committee equally made up of staff and inmates. I am one of the seven or so cons on the committee. The purpose of this committee is to try and figure out ways to best help the men who are being released from prison and returned back into society; the idea is to help them to make that transition with the best possibility to become productive members of society, and therefore give them the best opportunity to stay out of prison by not returning to the activities that sent them to prison in the first place.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but a very large percentage of those released from prison – come back. I don’t know the percentage, but it’s high. So what this committee is charged with doing is to try and figure out ways to help these men to avoid the mistakes of their past and to educate them to other possibilities which don’t involve breaking the law.
Now I will be blunt here and add that when my name came up, I wasn’t thrilled about serving – well, several reasons, 1) I have been locked up for twenty-two years now, and I really don’t have a clue what the world out there is like these days.
2) And, last but not least … for these inmates to succeed on the outside will require them to change the way they act, and, truthfully, I don’t believe that the majority of these guys WANT to change. In fact, I see nothing in the way they carry themselves, in here, that would lead me to believe that they intend to pull their pants up, get a job, and take care of their children, when released – nothing. The only reason they’re not running wild in here, is because “Staff” makes them pull their pants up and act right. I hate to say it, but I think that they’re more addicted to the lifestyle than they are drugs. Like I said, a very large portion of these men don’t see anything wrong with the way they act.
Rather than trying to sum up each of those reasons further, which would take more time and space than I have here, I’ll just lump them together and say that when I went to our first meeting, I was pleasantly surprised that the Staff Members involved, were very involved. They actually convinced me that they really wanted to do something to help these men. One of them even commented that they weren’t getting paid extra to be there, that they were there because they had volunteered … I respect that. And a couple of the inmates on the committee had actually been released and came back, one of them five times! But, I think that they too wanted to actually try and help others avoid the mistakes that they themselves had made. As for me, well, though I don’t believe you can help some or most of these guys, I decided that I would put forth an effort to help those who do actually want to do something other than return to the “Thug Life.”
As we talked our way through this first meeting I quickly noticed the individual personalities, you know, inmates who want to bolster their own egos, and the guys who were quiet and contemplative, not self-centered, and I listened as the two repeat offenders told of their experiences – one, a friend of mine, whom I had had MANY a conversation with before he went home, the last time, in which he assured me he would stay away from drugs – but, he lied. Yeah, I listened to his story about how hard it is out there; “My family didn’t help me,” “I was unprepared for the struggles of freedom,” blah, blah, blah, the same old excuses … made me want to tell him to drop his sack and man up to life and quit blaming his lack of personal discipline on the fact that he didn’t have pampers when he was a baby – Yes, I made that Pampers part up, but you get the message, right … why not just say “NO”, “I ain’t gonna get high, because if I do, I’m going back to Prison!” I don’t get it. Anyway, we shall see about him when he goes home, the next time. But I for one don’t feel sorry for him, yeah, he really disappointed me. In spite of all of that I am enthused by what I think just might happen with our little committee; we just might actually help somebody.
To me the answer is pretty simple, its Jobs. What to do about that, I don’t know, but I do know what helped me when I was a kid on the streets.
I left home at 15, and after bouncing around I ended up picking fruit in Florida. Eventually I ended up in Texas at 17. Once here I discovered a program that was being offered by LULAC, League of United Latin American Communities, or something like that. FYI: This was a product of Dr. Hector Garcia, famous man I later came to know very well as the Mayor of Ingleside, I actually served on a couple of committees with him and his wonderful sister – anyway, LULAC had a deal with the Federal Government to actually “pay” people who had been disadvantaged, to go to welding school. Somehow I, because of my lack of education and background as a migrant worker, was accepted to this program – I would later laugh with Dr. Garcia that I was his token “Kracker”! We did laugh about that too! Point is, this program not only worked for me, but allot of others by taking us off the streets and giving us a job, learning a trade. So I know first hand that these types of programs work – but getting the money to operate them is another thing. See, about thirty years ago, Congress started cutting the funding for these types of Social Programs and have never stopped finding reasons to reduce any funds going to them – so we shall see, but that is the answer.
Well, ain’t much else happening, I of course am writing and painting – doing my best to keep positive while maintaining a mindfulness of the lessons one can learn from this kinda life. I’m trying to keep my head above the BS of prison politics, but, if you’re a person who speaks their mind it ain’t easy, because if you do, some of the guards are just as childish as the inmates … yeah, they’ll hate on you if you say anything negative about them, even if its true, and some of the inmates will plot against you if you call ’em on their bullshit – yeah, its like being back in the third grade, only the people are less attractive, lol..
Complaining? Hell, no. I realize that I am the maker of my life circumstances and I shall endeavor to live it with as much class and dignity as I am capable of exhibiting … Perdurabo!
Happy Easter, lets not forget that this is the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. Sometimes that gets lost in the chocolate, per se. As for us, well we had a very nice meal with A big piece of fried chicken, Macaroni and cheese, jalapeno cornbread, apple pie and an ice cream sandwich. All good enough!
One of my granddaughters has a short job in Mexico and it scares the bee-jeesus out of me for her to be down there – she’s only 17. No, it ain’t the first time she’s had worked down there, she was down there for like three months last year. I’ve been assured that she’s going to be safe, but lord, I don’t know how anybody can live down there under the constant threat of that place – DRUGS! Always the same problem. But what to do about it? Here I am saying what I shouldn’t, Trump is right, need to execute ’em. Don’t like me saying that? Well, you ain’t gonna like this either; we need to either go Sharia Law and kill their asses, or legalize drugs altogether, because what we’re doing right now, obviously ain’t working! One or the other – maybe next time I’ll take this subject on and debate it with you. Anyways. I love you guys and appreciate yall taking the time to show me a little respect.
Peace be with you. Mark
Three Rivers, 4-1-18