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.