Monday, February 22, 2010

#60 Tell me about prison

What can you tell me about prison?

That question is kinda vague…actual, VERY vague.

It’s a question that involves to many things for me to even begin to talk about here. But if it makes sense, what we are talking about is what YOU may be asking me. If you come across my blogs and sit there thinking “what should I ask him” you may likely have many other questions as well. So, let’s touch on a few of these thoughts, things that many readers may well have asked me or want to ask me:

“What can you tell me about prison”

I can’t tell you everything, no one can, because prison is as different as one inmate to another. I can only tell you what I have experienced, and how I was able to endure it. In that are a thousand stories about everything I have gone through, from faith, attempted suicide, prison food and friends in prison. I can’t tell you everything, but I can tell you a lot.

“Why should you be any different from a prison support site?”

Because prison support sites rely mainly on second hand information, like an inmate’s mother, girlfriend or wife. Now that sounds like I am criticizing that but consider what I am saying. MILLIONS of men and women have been in and out of the prison system just in the past 10 years…why then is there so little intel shared on these sites.? The reason is because prison support sites often shun when ex felons try to share info, mainly because moderators and members are people trying to “one up” each other with cheap post counts.

This does not mean that every site is full of selfish people, there are many exceptions, but you truly have to wonder about the sincerity of a site like Prison Talk if tons of members have 5 digit post counts, and most have not been there 5 years. If you really want to know what prison is like, don’t ask a person who know somebody…ask someone who has BEEN there.

“Should I trust you?”

That is a question you have to answer. I mean, do you trust that person on the site that said, “hi and welcome to PTO” with 50,000 posts? Do you trust somebody on a site that never shares a sincere post, and is always tagging somebody else’s post with some cheap one liner? Are you looking for help, or are you just jumping around looking for somebody to feel sorry for you and say “there there”? If you are looking to be accepted, then I can’t help you, so don’t put your trust in me.

But if you really want to know what prison is about, and the highs and lows of an ex felon, and one who has tried to do his best to help…then try me. Read my blogs and see if I am full of crap or if I am somebody trying to make a difference. If so, then trust me to at least give you my best effort to help.

“Do you answer legal questions?”

NO! Next question.

“I read about your books, are you still writing?”

Yes and no. I still write, and would love to finish another book or two, but right now I am working from a computer that is very likely on its last legs. If I can get a new computer, and put my printing software on it, I can be right back in the game, making new prison cards, writing my books and other things. Hopefully in time that will happen.

“How can I get in touch with you?”

You can email me at the email address provided. I don’t share a straight email because there are software out there that crawls the internet looking for emails to spam. I said once and I say again, if you share your email out there, be careful not to spell it all out so it can be spammed. But you can get in touch with me by email, I do answer my email.

“I just don’t know what to do with my loved one in prison. What can I do?”

First off, find a point to relax. That is very hard to do with your loved one is in prison, especially for a first time offender and one that just recently got sentenced. I know its hard, but to help him you have to get to a place of control. This is vital because when the body is over stressed, the body can break down. You are no good to your son, husband or boyfriend if you are sick all the time. There is much more to explain but that is a start.

“Do you help write letters for inmates, like parole letters and the such?”

I actually have done that once or twice, it is something I can do IF I get to know what the person is about. I don’t do that on a first time chat, because those people don’t know me well enough to ask for such a service. I also get kinda thick skinned because I get tired of people promising to buy a book or something if I help them, then after I help them they are gone. But for certain situations, I do help.

“What are some of the topics you can talk about regarding prison?”

Lots of topics, I mean, what do you want to know about it? Now, when I say that, I am not talking about the curious reader that wants to know about trivial things simply for the sake of curiosity. I am talking about people who have a loved one in prison, and are curious or concerned about prison life, or even life after prison. When a mom asks me what the food is like, I can tell her because I ate the food and in some cases I worked in that kitchen. If a wife asks me what life might be like for her husband, I can tell her because I am living that now. If a girlfriend asks me about the grievance procedure, I can tell her because I wrote MANY, and in fact still have them with me now.

So if you have a question about prison, ask…you won’t know until you do….

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