Occasionally I may post something seemingly unrelated to Voice for the Silent Fathers! THIS is one of those posts.
Yesterday, a twitter follower (@allierox29) tagged me with an article written by Carole Malone titled: Prison is supposed to be a punishment and a deterrent – so stop the treats! Please take a moment to click the link and read it so you will understand that under my current circumstances, I felt compelled to respond.
I’ve spent most of the past 11 and a half years at USP Canaan, one of the most violent Federal prisons in America, and I can tell you I’ve seen it all.
Unfortunately there is no one perfect solution with punishment because there are a number of different variables that lead to a person ending up in prison. For the sake of this discussion, I would like to point out the essential ingredient that those of us behind these walls need to improve our lives, which is the desire to want to change. That seed of desire needs to be cultivated so that one has the ability to see him or herself as more than just an ex-con. It’s important for everyone to be able to recognize the essence of who they really are in order to live their true potential. In prison, art and music programs, educational and trade classes are the tools used in an attempt at a healthy cultivation for change, while helping to reinforce one’s greater potential. Programs and creative arts don’t only help to recognize one’s potential, but creates the experience of living a meaningful and purposeful life even while still incarcerated.
I understand the ‘tough on crime’ attitude and there should be and are different degrees of penalties based on the types of crimes that are committed. The majority of crimes here in America are non-violent drug offenses, and the negative ripple effect of the mandatory minimums has done more harm to society as a whole then it’s helped. But that’s another topic of discussion.
From my personal perspective as one that only saw myself as a gangster for most of my younger years, I came to a point where I embraced the desire to change, at a point in my life where most thought it was too late. Still I choose to walk a positive spiritual path, leading to a priceless inner freedom. I discovered the gift of writing while preparing speeches to discuss universal laws and life principals in an attempt to get others realize their true potential. After taking a Yoga program, I found a new positive habit which lead to me becoming a Yoga instructor for the last five years, along with being a physical fitness trainer. It was through these classes and programs that I realized I can be something other than a gangster. But again… It all started with my individual desire to want something better, to want to change.
Now my popularity and respect behind these prison walls where I’m called the Guru, was earned because of my choice to change and living the truth of my potential and in expressing the truth even when it isn’t always what some want to hear. This is especially true when there not committed to making a change, but it’s the truth none the less. Teeth get sucked and eyes are rolled when I boldly state that if you don’t make the commitment to change now in prison, I seriously doubt you’ll make it in the free world and you’ll soon be back. It’s just the truth.
When I make suggestions about the steps we could take collectively as inmates to help society from behind these walls, the shocked expressions on my fellow convicts faces make me laugh. One such suggestion was to donate one of our 3 meals (breakfast which most of us sleep through) twice a week to the local food pantry for those that are hungry and less fortunate. I got plenty of dirty looks for that, but then I ask; Why are we always expecting society to make changes for us with policy and prison reforms, yet we don’t take the initiative to make changes for ourselves in helping others? Even when I explain that the gift is in knowing that we did something positive for others, which helps build our self-esteem. (Side note… They were not receptive and not trying to hear it).
I have plenty ideas for prison reform, but what is essential is feeding the desire for change, to want better for one self, ones family and for the society that we one day will return too.
There’s so much more that I can address on this topic, but I already know I’m a few days behind in this discussion. My point is that regardless if your hard or soft, or throwing tons of money into the prison system, if the desire to change is not nurtured and cultivated within the individual, then we can’t expect them to bear healthy fruit. Programs, the creative arts, support and love from family and friends are all ingredients to success, but it all starts with the urge, that desire to want better for ones self, by trusting and believing in the power of change.
Again I can address the Justice for victims, punishment as a deterrent and a number of issues another time, I just wanted to get this out this today.
Thank for letting me express my truth! Eddie K. Wright aka “Gangster turned Guru”