Prisoners Can Be A Resource For Society

By · Monday, December 29th, 2008

As a long-term prisoner, I am also looking for opportunities to contribute to society. One of the strategies I enjoy is writing, but when possible, I also enjoy speaking. I participate in a group at Taft Camp that goes by the unusual acronym TOAD. The name stands for Those Outspoken Against Drugs. Its purpose is to persuade at-risk adolescents to remain in school and avoid the perils of criminal activities.

As a TOAD member, I have had the privilege of traveling with our group to schools in the Bakersfield area. A staff sponsor accompanied us on each journey. Those of us who participate in the TOAD program describe our backgrounds, explain the rituals of prison life, and suggest alternatives young people have to find fulfillment. As a consequence of our imprisonment, we have a level of credibility with those in our audience, and we also respond to their questions with candor. The speech I provide is one that I modify for specific occasions, though I generally follow the outline that I wrote about in my article Making Better Choices

Others who may anticipate a journey through the federal prison system may find some therapy in making efforts to reconcile with society. Many prisons offer programs like TOAD that offer inmates the privilege of speaking with at-risk adolescents. Sometimes, college students or business organizations invite prisoners to offer their testimony as well. Those who prefer not to speak in public may find other activities through which they can feel that they are making contributions to society. I recommend such adjustment patterns.

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