Free Gas!

During these past 11 years in prison I’ve never received a major ticket or been to the hole (segregation). If there was a time when it was likely to happen it was during the first half or so of my bit when my tolerance was less refined and I was more willing to take risks. The last several years I’ve been more and more focused on my future, such as personal development, education, and getting involved in primarily outside causes. As a result of these efforts I was recently in the process of getting a two-year job commitment as a tutor at a minimum security institution 75% closer to my family. After four years I’ve been here long enough to get transferred and I was trying to wait until November-December to make a push for it. That way I could complete the two-year limit on my current job facilitating a relatively new Psych Services program I’ve been integral in developing and implementing. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for guaranteed placement in a much better facility an hour or less away from my loved ones. Needless to say I was excited.

Imagine my surprise when they popped up at my cell to take me to the hole pending an investigation. For what? Solicitation of staff and drugs. I-I-I’m sorry, could you repeat that shit.

Because the teacher at the minimum, in making her decision to try to get me the job down there, relied largely on the recommendation of the outgoing tutor (my former celly), suspicions apparently have been aroused as to the relationship between him, her and me. This in turn somehow led to questions about my possible involvement in several recent drug busts here and at other institutions – never mind that there is so little connecting me to these events that it could be totaled in the negative (e.g. -1 piece of evidence).

Even if I’m not charged or found guilty, some of my property has surely already been “lost” or broken (as is common with hole transfers); instead of the cellmate I’d been gelling with for well over a year, I’ll have to play the celly lottery (which is like the regular lottery but with lower odds and losing is much worse); and I may soon lose my job (30 days absence policy), have to pay for my rented textbooks because I’m unable to return them on time and miss the deadline to apply for a nearby tech school that would save my family $600 or so this fall for tuition. The fuel tank for my motivation to not only never return to prison but thrive upon release has been brimming for sometime now and everyday life behind these walls pours in more.

Don’t let the overflow go to waste; please take some.

I’m not going to disrespect anyone’s intelligence or the severity of billions of others’ hardships by presenting my one-sided case or painting myself as a sympathetic figure. You likely have no knowledge of my trustworthiness and character beyond these posts – which could be a front for all you know – so, I can’t expect you to genuinely take heed to my experiences. Besides, maybe you’re too strong, smart, lucky or connected to ever get caught up in the types of troubles I and many others have. No doubt, though, you have and will again get yourself in some trouble and no doubt it’s been and will generally be for the same reasons everyone else has gotten themselves in trouble throughout history.

This post isn’t about the ridiculousness of my presence in the hole as I wait for them to get to the bottom of this hillbilly fishing expedition where they’ll find nothing but an empty soup can. It’s not about the sad and very real possibility (based on their past and not uncommon actions) that they’re so determined to catch something they’ll hold up that empty soup can and say, “well, looky here, it’s a big Kahuna,” and convict me of one or both of these serious charges. This is about the little risks we take everyday – weaknesses we ignore, good habits we neglect, lazy and emotional decisions we make – that quickly devolve into chaos, important people leaving our lives, incarceration and even death. I didn’t do anything to warrant being put in the hole, but by committing my crime I subjected myself to the paranoid whims of a dictatorship. Were I free I’d have many effective ways to take my mind off of or defend myself against such headaches.

When I committed my crime I honestly believed my actions were not only justified, but necessary, per street code. Of course, that was a long time and much immaturity ago. The majority of us currently and formerly incarcerated people sufficiently know better now, if for no other reason than our personal understanding of the misery of incarceration. And those who’ve been here before are statistically much more likely to return. So readers don’t have to know me for my cautionary tales to fuel their struggles against old, harmful mentalities and habits. Everyone’s just trying to figure out the best way to combat the appeal of those little risks and temptations that present themselves every day if not every hour. For me, that means focusing on only the good in my life and starving my pride/ego. Those, however, who’ve achieved what we want (whether celebrities or regular folk) are the best source of info for combating the risks and temptations in our own lives.

Because I’ve done nothing even remotely wrong I should feel confident that this will all work out in the end and maybe I’ll still even get to go to minimum. But I’ve lived under the DOC’s short-sighted reign for far too long to be so naive. What I do know is I’ll be fine no matter what they do; I’ll be damned if they get my peace of mind too. I’ll just keep meditating, studying, visualizing the ecstasy of freedom and embracing the powerlessness of the hole as its deprivation and schizophrenic loudness attempt to swallow my sanity.

Picture yourself here the next time those little risks start whispering in your ear. Let the image fuel your strength.

Keep boxing temptation. Give freedom a hug for us who can’t.

TIP: GENESIS is an organization that provides housing, self-supporting employment and programming based on Christian principles. GENESIS is also looking for mentors willing to work with currently incarcerated and recently released individuals. For more information go to or call 414-344-9880