February, 2009

A Prison Presentation For My Wife

For the first time since marrying Carole in a prison visiting room, on June 24, 2003, I was able to speak to an audience in which she was present. The occasion took place on Monday, 23 February 2009. Speaking and teaching has been an essential component of my adjustment over the past 21-plus years of […]

Prisoner Access to E-mail Makes Society Safer

J. Michaelsen wrote me a comment in response to an article I wrote suggesting that prison reform should bring email access to prisoners. The readers asked why I thought email access alone would help offenders prepare for release, and asked whether gang members would abuse such a privilege if it were offered. I appreciate these […]

Prisoner Contributions to Universities

As a long-term prisoner, I’ve always felt as if I had a duty to reconcile with society. One contribution I could make was to document my journey through the federal prison system. I have written extensively about my experiences of living in prison for more than 21 years. I have also written about others. The […]

Are All Prisoners Criminals?

Brandon is a criminal justice student who is using my writings as a resource to broaden his understanding of America’s prison system. He posted a few comments that sought my perspective on the potential for real reform within our prison system. I welcome an opportunity to respond. Obviously, I write from the perspective of a […]

Prison Policies Ought to Encourage Positive Leadership

Brittny left a comment in response to the article I wrote about Walt Jones. Since writing the first article about Walt, I wrote an update about his inspiration. I expect him to continue his final months with a positive adjustment and for him to make real contributions to society upon his release. Leaders in prison […]

Prison Visiting and Judicial Decisions

Kellen wrote me with questions pertaining to visiting, and with questions regarding my perceptions of recent judicial decision to lower population levels in California’s prison system Visiting privileges depend upon the security level of the prison. In higher-security institutions, the atmosphere feels more oppressive because of the higher concentration of guards, the surveillance cameras, the […]

Strong Community Ties Can Motivate Prisoners to Adjust Positively

Strong Community Ties Can Motivate Prisoners to Adjust Positively LaRita left a comment asking some questions about another prisoner with whom I served time. His name was Jeff, and the article I wrote about him described the obstacles prison administrators erected in obstructing Jeff’s efforts to marry the mother of his children. LaRita wanted to […]

My Review of Picking Cotton

Title: Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption Date Read: February 14, 2009 Authors: Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, with Erin Torneo Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (2009) Nonfiction/298 pages Why I read Picking Cotton: A publicist for Picking Cotton requested through an e-mail that I write a review for this book. Carole responded to […]

Watch For Prison Visiting Rules

Visiting in any federal prison requires discipline. That lesson sometimes eludes newer prisoners. The rules in every prison where I’ve been confined for the past 21-plus years specifically stated that prisoners were allowed to hug and kiss their visitors briefly at the beginning of each visit and again at the end of each visit. Most […]

Can Prisoners Furlough for Childbirth?

Kylee wrote me with questions pertaining to her husband’s confinement. He serves a 46-month sentence at the prison camp in Morgantown, Virginia. Kylee wanted to know whether a furlough for childbirth was possible, and she also had questions about opportunities for her husband to earn an MBA during his imprisonment. My experiences are that a […]

Prison Lobbyists Enable Prisoners to Live Better than Some in Society

Carlos was a fellow prisoner who served with me inside Taft’s minimum-security camp. He was assigned to one of the cubicles adjacent to mine and we formed a friendship. Since he knew I spent a lot of time writing about the prison experience, he asked whether I ever wrote about what we as prisoners had […]

The Inspiration Behind Walt Jones’ Prison Adjustment

Kara wrote a comment in response to an article I wrote about my friend Walt Jones. She was inspired by the positive choices Walt had made as a long-term prisoner and hoped that her brother, who also was serving a lengthy prison term, could follow Walt’s example. Truthfully, the story I wrote about Walt did […]

My Strategy for Staying Focused Through Prison

Kyla commented on my entry about the value administrators could create for society by offering incentives that would encourage more prisoners to work toward earning freedom. In light of administrators’ reluctance to offer incentives for productive adjustments, Kyla asked how I stayed focused and avoided the negative influences of confinement. As I have written elsewhere, […]

Prisoners Who Focus on Success Reject Labels of Convicts or Inmates

Paul wrote a comment asking me to elaborate on my perceptions with regard to the differences between those prisoners who identified themselves as either convicts or inmates. Specifically, Paul wanted to know whether I thought convicts had committed more violent crimes than inmates, and whether I thought convicts were more likely to re-offend upon release. […]

The Dilemmas of Prison Guards Who Want to Correct

Andrew commented on an earlier article I wrote about the perceptions I had about euphemistic job titles. I did not strive to disparage the trade of prison guards, though my 21-plus years experience of living in prison did not expose me to any emphasis on corrections. Quite the opposite, in fact, Rather than providing for […]