I have been asked what my rehabilitation looks like. My personal rehabilitation looks like constant work. I know that I am not the person that I once was, but I also know that I am not yet the best version of myself. Knowing this, I am constantly striving to better myself and be the living the amends my victims deserve.
I attend weekly AA/NA meetings along with weekly alternatives to violence a VP class, as well as bridges to freedom, and LWOP alliance classes. At least I did, before Covid put the world on pause. AA/NA helps with substance-abuse*a causative factor in my life crime. And a VP has taught me how to resolve conflict without resorting to violence and how to de-escalate situations. Bridges to Freedom has helped me with insight and understanding why I did the things I did. The LWOP alliance is about giving those of us with life without parole some hope and preparing us for the chance to go home.
At any given point in time, I am doing 2 to 3 correspondence courses through prep, GOGI, and Criminon. These courses can cover a wide variety of topics from victim impact, criminal thinking, anger management, substance-abuse, etc.… I am also a college student pursuing my associates degree through imperial Valley College.
My days can be extremely busy especially when you factor in my prison job has me working seven days a week. People asked me why I do so much, and I always have the same reply; because it is what I have to do. I understand that I need to earn the right to have a chance to go home. Due to this, I spend my time bettering myself and earning it. This is what my rehabilitation looks like
At the risk of being presumptuous, I think that I speak for many of us who are incarcerated when I say that I am no longer the same person I was when I was out there engaging in my criminal activities. I am not even the same person that I was yesterday!
Every day is a step forward for me, I have made a conscious decision to make it so. I know how broken my thought process, my actions, and myself were; so I am constantly searching for the next piece of the puzzle to help complete the picture of where I want to be.
When I committed my life crimes, that landed me in the penitentiary serving life without parole, I wasn’t even human. My mind was barely existent, and what was there, often resembled the mind of a rabid beast. I freely admit that I was unfit for society, and I deserve to be in prison. I could not follow the law, and I was a threat to others. I was treated accordingly and incarcerated. Upon the beginning of my term, I was not even aware of the concept of rehabilitation. I was not exposed to any program by the system*and to be honest I probably would not have cared if I was.
I do not know what it was that changed within me, and there is no great catalyst I can point to and say that it sparked the change. What I do know is that I woke up one morning and I cared; yet, there were still no programs available on the yard. I ended up getting introduced to the entire concept of positive programming through a man in prison. He handed me an address and as a result I began doing my first ever self-help correspondence course I found "hope". As groups became available at the facility where I was housed, I became involved in them and I invested in them. I later ended up facilitating for that very first group at another prison. My point in all this is, that "hope" is an extremely powerful sentiment.
Members of the LWOP community are supposed to be the most hopeless of all lost causes, but we are not! We are neither lost causes nor are we hopeless. I am advocating that those of us who have sought the change in our heart and rekindle that spark of hope within our being and reach out to our brothers and sisters who have not yet found it. This is imperative for all of us who are incarcerated. Like that man did for me, those few years back. Reach out and help set a member of our community towards a righteous path of redemption and freedom. We cannot expect anyone else to do it for us, we all have to do our part for each other; extend hope, reach out, and build bridges. We can accomplish so much more as a community than any one person can do on their own.
For what are you remorseful? And what are you going to do about it?
Remorse is a noun that means “deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed,” but those are just words; the actual feeling of remorse goes much deeper than that. For me, it is a feeling that burns deep within my soul and manifest self in my daily actions, but it wasn’t always like that. If you were to ask me for what am I remorseful, I could provide seemingly cat was the answers but there is one answer the override them all: I am responsible for the loss of a human life.
I am currently serving to life without parole. I am not remorseful for that; I am remorseful for my actions that led to those prison sentences. I have shattered many families and several lives through my senseless acts of violence. My irresponsible actions took people from this earth, and forever scarred another. My choices also resulted in removing myself, and a friend of mine, from our families. I caused a lot of unnecessary pain in this world, and I am now actually aware of this pain, because I feel it myself… But this wasn’t always the case.
Are used to have no empathy for my victims or their families. I thought I did on a certain level, I had an understanding of the pain I caused with my wrongdoings-but I didn’t feel it. It took me several years, and the loss of several people close to me, to understand the feeling of a loss. It is not a thing you understand were rationalize, as I was so false and thought for so many years. No, remorse is something that you feel deep within yourself, and only when you stop deluding yourself and actually admit to the horrifying nature of the wrongdoings you perpetrated against your victims. I say all of this to set the stage for what I am remorseful: I am remorseful for the murders I committed. I had no right to take what I took from those men. I took their existence; I snatched their futures away from them; and, I stole the memories that we’ve yet to be made with your children and grandchildren. I have a Morse for the way I shaved my family and dragged their name through the mud, and for the embarrassment they felt with my name was brought up. I have a Morse for the fact that I was able to commit this atrocious Alex and terrorize my community. I am ashamed that I continued on with my destructive behavior after my incarceration, and that it took me so long to actually feel remorse like a normal OK.
Now that I do have remorse, and understanding the wrongs that I have done, it is time to put that into action. I strive daily to be a better person and to be a living amends. “Sorry”, just doesn’t cut it in my case; remorse is what drives me to affect positive change.