Thriving Through Adversity: 3rd Quarter 2007

By · Sunday, October 7th, 2007

During this past quarter I’ve moved into my third decade of continuous confinement. I am glad to have more than 20 years of continuous confinement behind me, and I’m hopeful that I can conclude my sentence from my current place of confinement, in Taft, California.

I have been in the Taft prison camp for more than three months now. By far, this prison camp offers the best living conditions that I’ve ever experienced since my confinement began in 1987. Some of the prisoners complain, of course, but complaining seems to be a part of confinement. Wherever I have been, prisoners complain. I can understand it, as the people with whom I share space have not experienced as much as I have. They miss their families and communities, and confinement under any kind of circumstances is difficult. Since I have known so much worse, I can say that I wake every morning with enthusiasm and gratitude for the blessings God has bestowed upon me.

During the three months that I have been at Taft Camp, I’ve been very busy. My primary work has been the completion of two new Web sites that I’ve been instrumental in designing. One of the Web sites is called, and the other Web site is called These sites have different purposes from each other, and from my primary site at I’m optimistic about the opportunities that will open because of my work on these projects.

I designed in response to a project that I began with my friend Lee Nobmann, of Golden State Lumber. While we were confined together at Lompoc Camp, Lee and I frequently discussed the need for programs that would encourage more offenders to use their time wisely. Together we published two books, one for at-risk adolescents and another to encourage prisoners to step up and accept responsibility for their lives. has become a component of the Step Up program that Lee’s company sponsored.

Through, we offer an opportunity for any prisoner to open his own Web site. PrisonSuccess will become a social networking site prisoners may use to document their efforts to grow and prepare for success. This Web project is completely free of charge to all prisoners who sign up to participate. They may post articles, short stories, resumes, goals, book reports, journals and photographs on their personal sites. My hopes are to encourage hundreds, and then thousands of prisoners to participate in this project. I am convinced that those who begin to document their commitment to succeed will have a better chance of overcoming the obstacles that are certain to follow confinement.

The other site I designed,, will offer content to help people who anticipate a problem with the criminal justice system. Through that Web site, I will publish content regularly that helps others under some of the complexities that accompany prosecution and time in prison. I have written the initial content for, and I will continue writing profiles of other prisoners and articles during these remaining years that I expect to serve. differs from because I will use the new site to focus on the prison system rather than on my own journey through confinement. For stories or articles that relate to my own adjustment, I will continue to use my personal Web site at

I am enthusiastic about these new Web site opportunities because they allow me to continue publishing useful information for people who are in need. Over these remaining years that I expect to serve, I will add significant amounts of content to all of my Web sites. Through this work, I hope to build both a brand and a platform that may help me launch a career as a speaker and consultant for those looking for information about overcoming adversity.

Besides the Web site projects, I’ve also completed my first series of courses with Taft Community College. At Taft Camp, and at the adjacent low-security Taft Correctional Institution, inmates are authorized to study independently with the local college. We have a computer lab with Microsoft programs. I recently completed a course that helped me understand Word and Excel. Previously I had studied courses in both electronic spreadsheets and word processing, but I have never used these popular Microsoft programs. The knowledge I have gained will be helpful upon my release. In fact, it is helpful right now as I am able to use what I have learned to better communicate my needs to Carole.

I’m also participating in the Toastmasters club. While I was confined at USP Atlanta, much earlier during my sentence, I was instrumental in bringing the Toastmasters club to that institution. I really enjoyed participating, as it brought me experience in the art of public speaking. We’re building a vibrant club with the population here at Taft, and I look forward to continuing my participation. This past week I delivered a 30 minute speech that I called Thriving Through Adversity. I spoke without notes, adhering to the following outline: Introduction, describing my own experiences (3 minutes); Values, and Goals, describing the importance of clearly defining both values and goals in order to succeed (8 minutes); Strategies, describing the seven habits that Stephen Covey described in his bestselling book (15 minutes); Benefits, describing the ways these patterns lead to success and happiness (3 minutes); and Conclusion, in which I challenge those in the audience to use this same pattern to succeed.

Another group with which I have signed up to participate at Taft is called T.O.A.D., which is an acronym for Those Outspoken Against Drugs. This group uses inmates at the camp to travel into nearby communities for the purpose of speaking to at-risk adolescents. The TOAD group has been active for several years, and I look forward to the next opportunity to speak with troubled youth. My hopes are that I can help some make better decisions than I made when I was a younger man. My exercise routine continues. I am able to workout regularly. We do not have free weights at this facility, but that is not a problem for me. I am running at least 40 miles each week, and strength training with push ups and dips. We also have several high-quality machines for aerobic training, and the weather is superb. Now that the hot months have passed, I must say that Taft has the best weather that I’ve ever experienced. It’s sunny every day, with low levels of humidity. I really am grateful to be serving my time here.

Over the coming three months, I do not expect to enroll in more classes at Taft College. Instead, I will focus on writing more content for the new Web sites that I am developing. I also will spend time exercising, and watching CNBC. As I write this quarterly report, the market indices are approaching very high levels, and this surprises me. I subscribe to both Business Week and News Week magazines, and I read the Wall Street Journal daily. The news on the sub-prime credit fiasco suggests that millions of people soon are going to face substantially higher mortgage payments, and the credit crunch makes it unlikely that they will be able to refinance. Although the Fed cut interest rates by an unexpected 50 basis points, and the market has gone straight up since then, the economy is going to have to soften. I enjoy watching the pundits on CNBC, even if they are expecting the market indices to continue surging to new highs. My wife, Carole, continues her commitment to nursing school. We both look forward to her graduation next May, when she and her daughter will relocate to the Bakersfield area. Nichole is now an official senior in high school; she completed college-level course work over the summer in order to graduate high school one full year ahead of her class. Both Carole and I are very proud of her. She expects to enroll in a pre-med curriculum when she begins her university studies, in 2008. Beginning in October, I will initiate more regular postings of my daily activities with a Blog that Carole is activating. I encourage readers to follow my progress as I move through these final years of my confinement.

Thank you for your continuing support, and may God bless you all.

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