For while we were still weak,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person -
though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
As I spend most of my day helping the younger prisoners coming into prison, I see who I use to be before I changed, and I am appalled, shocked and appalled, at how I acted in my 20's. I was an aberrant young impetus person with a rudderless soul.
Many of the new young men coming into prison are sons of prisoners I have known from my 40 years of prison existence. This made me question my culpability of teaching their fathers the wrong lessons for success and freedom to pass on to their children. Some of the sons of previous prisoners would seek me out and claim, "My father told me about you." Then I would wonder to myself, "Am in some manner culpable for the son being in prison?" The answered rapidly descended upon me, "Yes, I was absolutely, at least, partially responsible." We are all responsible to some degree for the success or failure of each individual which we choose to interact, or avoid. Human engagement has a direct correlation on the human condition. This includes subtle body language, such as failure to make eye contact, or flying the middle finger. Being responsible for a young man coming to prison causes me great pain.
During my 40 years of incarceration, I have watched many released prisoners return to prison. Some of them ten (10) times, no exaggeration. I work harder to help them acquire the individualized tools necessary to succeed in remaining in the free-world.
I have even witnessed fathers meeting their sons for the first time while they are both incarcerated sharing a prison cell. It is one of those strange ambivalent moments of prison, unusual happiness and extreme sadness.
I realized my need for more indepth prison programming to be able to help others. I immersed myself into the available self-help positive prison programs. Then I helped bring in and start programs, i.e., Redemption, Toastmasters, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Parenting Class, etc., in the most unlikely places, the West Complex, the gang units, at the Washington state penitentiary in Walla Walla.
These positive programs helped me identify my problem areas and provided equitable solutions for difficult situations, including anger stress management, cognitive behavior adjustments, changes in my level of associations and interactions, and actively speaking out against drugs, violence and crime. However, the truth of prison programs is their ability to help a person succeed in prison, not outside of prison. There is no real correlation between prison programs and remaining in the free-world, except they teach an astute prisoner to properly present the right answer (key words and phrases) and attitude (positive and without histrionics) at the crucial time to disguise their real motivation. Prison programs are riddled with prisoner politics, social drama and gang hierarchy. Prison programs are generally a government money grab and a showcase for curious citizens, sitting politicians and to minimize potential liabilities. To prisoners, most prison programs are coveted territory for power, opportunity, corruption and manipulation.
Occasionally on the evening news there would be a detailed report of some horrendous, senseless murder, and without thinking I would ask myself out loud, "What is wrong with that guy?" Suddenly I would realize that is what the world said about me when I committed my crimes. I knew my perception of life had changed. I strongly advocate for the victims while I live amongst the perpetrators.
My approach to life is different now. I am thoughtful, caring and empathic. I believe in truth and transparency. If I hesitate to determine whether I should do something or not, then I don't do it. This has become a great tool for me.
My major infraction disciplinary record clearly demonstrates the change and how I now follow rules. My first 20 years in prison, I had 89 major disciplinary infractions. From 20-30 years, I had ten (10) major disciplinary infractions. The last ten (10) years I have had zero major disciplinary infractions. When I recently appeared before the parole board with a decade of impeccable conduct, they gave me 125 more years for no valid reason, and in contravention of their own rules and policies. It is moments like this that makes me wonder if doing the right thing is worth it or effective. The message they sent me is that doing less is better. Though I have no choice but to accept the politically motivated jackleg parole board decision, I will continue to do my good works regardless of their substantial attempt at discouragement.
I abhor drugs and alcohol because I see the devastation of our youth, and the elderly prisoners with serious chronic illnesses involving major organs. I have no interest in altering my mental state, nor losing control of myself or my values. Drugs and alcohol are not required to make life interesting, exciting or challenging. Life is fascinating and exhilarating without drugs and alcohol. Drug induced altered reality does not make life better. I am no longer running from my demons.
In self-analysis, I find being abused, abandoned and homeless as a child is no excuse for the catastrophic crimes I committed. Though the racism of Asian hatred and abuse has played a role in many of my problems, I have no one to blame but myself for spending my life in prison. I made the choice to be involved in the crimes. There are no circumstances which warrant the murders, the assault and the robbery I committed.
I am a Christian. I am under the authority of Jesus Christ. I obey by effectively working my assigned mission field with the Holy Spirit.
Grace, mercy and peace.