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  #1  
Old 11-05-2011, 08:11 PM
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Default Seeds Of Recidivism - Taking The World Too Seriously

I’ve been doing this deal for a number of years, now; prison, parole, new felony convictions, parole violations, you name it. I’ve been doing it so long in fact, that I’m one of those people that when I get arrested, I don’t go jail; I go to prison. No bail, no probation, no parole re-instatement; none of that. I go to prison. That’s what 3 robbery convictions in your lifetime will do for you and I accept that. Along with that, it could be worse. In the eyes of many, I’m fortunate to be out here. Still…..my good fortune and the reality that I have much to be grateful for are never enough to keep me or a countless number of others from going back to prison and it never will be. There is a solution to the recidivism rate because there will always be those who do not go back to prison.

When you look at those of us who do go back to prison or have gone back like me for example, one of the things that stand out in my mind is how defensive we as former prisoners become when we take the Free World too seriously. We allow rejection and disapproval to affect us in such a way that it can become an illusion.

Yes, I know what it is to be told “Sorry sir, but we don’t hire ex-felons. I know what it is to be told by an apartment manager that no one with a felony record is permitted to lease an apartment or reside on their premises. I know what it is to be rejected when I ask a woman out on a date because of my past. I know all about that stuff and I know that it stings. What was it Marie Antoinette said of the peasants there in France one time, years ago? “Let them eat cake.” Well, I’ve eaten about as much cake in the last 20 years or so as anyone I know. I know some other things too, though.

If television, Hollywood, the Internet, the Media, statistics, and popular opinion had their way about it, I’d be better off if I didn’t find any reason at all to like myself for the person that I am. I’d be better off in their eyes if I dug a hole to stick my head in for the rest of my life, but then it wouldn’t really be my life that I am to live, would it? I’d be basing my self worth and esteem on the world and I’d be making the mistake of taking the world too seriously when in fact it often doesn’t bother to take itself very serious on many days. It’s still just the world in a universe full of other worlds.

Most of us know or should know that for every job, place of residence and person that won’t accept us, there are those places and people that do accept us and want us for who we are in the here & now. It’s a matter of embracing the moment and knowing that the door of opportunity awaits us all. We often fail to pass through those doors, however, when we get caught up in the opinions and attitudes of indifference among others to the point that we do the things we do that send us back to prison.
Most often, we go back because of one of two reasons. We attempt to change the way we feel by way of chemical euphoria or we rebel by reverting back to the behavior patterns that led to prison in the first place. Every now and then, you see some one who is a victim of being accused of something they didn’t do, but for the most part, that’s not the case. We get high and fail a drug test at parole or we drink too much and get pulled over by the police for a DWI. We get caught scoring drugs or we get caught pulling a crime that we knew from the beginning we were wrong for trying to do in the first place. That’s the way it usually goes for us or something close to it.

We do it to get even, we do it to feel better about ourselves in the world, we do it for relief and we do those things out ignorance in spite of what the real truth is. There is always someone to love. There is always another job to be worked, another place to live in and another car to be driven in a place called America. Often time without realizing it, it’s not a matter of getting over yourself; it’s a matter of getting over the world, itself. I have to learn not to care enough about some things in order to care about the one thing that matters most, my freedom. Without that, nothing else can be experienced out here.

If you have been to prison and are out here in the Free World right now then, know this; you are one of the most important people and vital success stories to be found the world over, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know it or refuse to see it. Everyday that you and I stay the course where fighting the good fight is concerned, gives us the right to be proud of who we are. We have to learn to see the truth for what it is and not what other people tell us when it’s more a matter of finding fault on their part.

There are seed of recidivism that can grow within our souls and our minds that we feed with fear, guilt, shame, temptation, hate, and confusion that create an illusion about the world we live in. When we allow that illusion to become so true in our lives that our freedom is less the thing of importance than it’s meant to be; we lose it.

Some say that the older they become, the less they know. I say the older I become the less I learn to care for the sake of caring about the things that really matter. If you’re not inside of a cell locked away some where or doing time behind the wall or behind a fence covered with razor wire then, you’re out here living the good life. That’s the real world that you and I live in and it’s the only one we need to make it out here.

Thoughts from Firebrand
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Last edited by Firebrand; 11-05-2011 at 08:13 PM..
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  #2  
Old 11-05-2011, 09:04 PM
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Default that's so right, keeping your eye on the prize: FREEDOM

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I have to learn not to care enough about some things in order to care about the one thing that matters most, my freedom. Without that, nothing else can be experienced out here.
So well put.

It's like choosing your battles -- there are many injustices that happen to us every day -- I would not want to throw away my freedom, winning one battle for something, yet losing the war. I try to stop myself and think, is this the hill I want to die on?
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:06 AM
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So well put.

It's like choosing your battles -- there are many injustices that happen to us every day -- I would not want to throw away my freedom, winning one battle for something, yet losing the war. I try to stop myself and think, is this the hill I want to die on?
I like your avatar kitty with its sweater on. Thatís cute; I havenít seen one like that before. Yes, the freedom aspect of it all is so very true, huh? The sad part of it all for anyone who goes back to prison is that first initial realization that itís gone when the cops put a set of handcuffs on you; the sudden finality of it all.

I have a friend of mine that was arrested on a parole violation November 3rd when he reported that Thursday and heíd been out for 2 years. He didnít know that it would come to all that, I think. Six days before, he spent the day volunteering to help put together a playground along with about 600 people here in south Dallas. Later that day, he went off on 2-3 day drug binge. His wife called Parole and that proved to be the factor in what led to his parole violation and arrest.

He and I were incarcerated at a place here in Dallas called Dawson State Jail which is about 400 yards or so away from the spot where JFK was assassinated. When we got out, we also went through a place called Philemonís House which is a Christian based transitional home that Iíve been a part of for 2 years now, off and on. They just promoted me to house manager over the Phase II end of things when men graduate the program that remain a part of the community. A lot of us move on too soon with the desire to get back into the groove of things after the first 6 months of being back out here. Iíve had as much trouble with it as anyone I know and when I look at it for what it is, the attempt to regain something out here for the sake of being normal or appearing normal is enough to overwhelm you. You get too caught up in getting ahead and achieving something in the financial sense that is an illusion.

Money is important and I donít think anyone would deny that. Still, many of us compromise something in the emotional sense that causes us to blow a gasket when we try too hard in too short a period of time to achieve something that is a gradual process for most people who have not been to prison. Thereís no such thing as really catching up when we resume our life out here.

The one thing that is quickly lost when we go about living our life at a break neck speed after we get out is the appreciation of our freedom. We fail to realize that as ex-felons and people on parole, weíre held to a higher standard of accountability than others. We know that deep down inside and yet we normalize the dangerous situations we put ourselves in that risk losing it all where freedom is concerned. All of us have to learn that you never try so hard to make it out here that here is a place you donít appreciate being in anymore. You have to slow down and take comfort in knowing that thereís too much help out here for one of us not to make it.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:07 PM
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I think this is true even of people that have never been on the inside, also. Like the old saying goes " Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses."
You have a unique prospective Firebrand thank you.
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:43 PM
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As I was reading your post, I so understood it. For myself, two stints at Dawson, some probation, and the reality of taking the world too seriously has hampered me in the past.

I remember when I got out this last time, I was going to do everything right and that lasted for about...oh, three seconds. I have been turned down for jobs, denied volunteer activities because I live in an area where non criminal volunteers are in abundance, denied housing...just denied. It could of broke me, it should have broke me, it almost did break me but for some reason I just knew that if I hung on something would give. In reality it has not happened fast enough, but I keep toughing it out, I keep giving it to God, and I keep believing that absolutely nothing is worth my freedom.

It's funny, the people I have surrounded myself with have never been where I have been. Although each person has had to deal with their own personal demons they have done it without criminal consequences. Because I have, they have been afraid and leery of me, at least until the last few months. I am not too sure what has changed in that time, maybe it's the fact that I am the same no matter what. I refuse to let myself give up when most people would have called an end to it all.

For the rest of my life I will be a "felon", and "ex offender." While I do not like it, I am ok with it. I am "reformed." That is the most important thing to me and to those who love me and to those who have come to care about and respect me.

The one thing that I am keenly aware of in life, if anything should go down and I am around, I will be the first one to go down. It will not matter whether or not I participated, for me there is no pass go, no collect $200, it will be straight to jail with no other option. I am one charge from being considered a habitual and I have no intention to going there. People do not understand when I walk away from things that just do not seem right. They do not understand the fear that I carry with me that makes me make black and white choices. They do not understand that my awareness level has been heightened and because of that, my view of the world and theirs are two totally different views.

So everyday, I will truck along. Every day I will take the good with the bad and I will be thankful and blessed that I am out in the free where I can be in the sunlight, be in the rain, just be.
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:02 AM
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Default yes, 'avatar-kitty' has a sweater on, so he doesn't run around naked

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I like your avatar kitty with its sweater on. Thatís cute; I havenít seen one like that before.
'Real-life kitty' and 'real-life doggy' don't have to wear costumes though -- they get to run around au naturale!
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:20 PM
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As I was reading your post, I so understood it. For myself, two stints at Dawson, some probation, and the reality of taking the world too seriously has hampered
Two stints at Dawson, huh? Wow…that’s more abuse than anyone deserves to bear, my dear sister from the other side of the wall. Well, you have come a long way and you are mindful of the good & bad we face out here that makes up what we know as the Free World. That’s more than some can say. I have a friend of mine who after a 2 year stay out here just went back to jail last week on a parole violation. He did a year or so with me on the 4th floor at Dawson while we were in the faith based dorms and then came to the same halfway house. I feel for him and yet I know that he forgot or stopped caring the same way all of us do who go back. I appreciate your insight.
me in the past.
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