A Success Story: Justin L. Donohue

By Justin L. Donohue  Image courtesy zimbio.com I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate these messages (Prison News Service). I have learned so much since I started reading them. I also wanted you to know that as

Read More

Famous Prisoners: Where Are They Now?

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Where are the legends who were seen indulging in gourmet entrees and sipping fine wines at the trendiest restaurants, but are now waiting in chow lines to dine?  Where is former billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, who swapped illegal stock trading for commissary stamp trading?

Ja Rule, the famous rapper, caught for not filing his income taxes ended-up filing for parole.

The only three piece suits these former dignitaries wear now are composed of handcuffs, leg irons, and waist chains.   

From Wall Street to movie sets and recording studios, many renowned people have gone from a posh to prison. Other notables have become renowned for the crime that landed them behind bars. 

Phil Spector 

Remember the haggard pouty-lipped Phil Spector, the rock star who produced such hits as “Da Doo Ron Ron,” and “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling?” Well, he must of lost that “loving feeling” when he was convicted of killing 40-year-old actress, Lana Clarkson. Spector allegedly shot his date after a night of drinking. 

Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, Spector was later inducted into the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran, Calif. in 2009 for 19-years to life. When Mr. Spector is eligible for parole he will be 88-years-old. 

Read More

Life from “F”s to “A”s

By Wayne T. Dowdy  Image courtesy prisoneducation.com

I hated haircuts and going to school when I was a child. I made straight “F”s in the public school system and eventually dropped out because I kept getting expelled for disruptive behavior. I thought I was dumb because of my straight F average. Now I feel the low self-opinion came from the negative criticism I received regularly. Anyway, things change. Today I cut my own hair and wear it relatively short, and regret that I used to be disruptive and disobedient and hated school. I value the education I have since obtained.

At fifteen-years-old, on the second day of school (I had skipped the first day), the principal expelled me for the remainder of the school year for throwing a book at a teacher. I was already on Aftercare/Probation because I had served time at the Youth Development Center in Augusta, Georgia for drug charges and stealing a car, so the court made me go to school at the Juvenile Detention Center in Clayton County. I was the only one in the class the teacher allowed to listen to music while doing class assignments. He let me use headphones to listen to vinyl records on what would now be viewed as an ancient record player. He also let me work at my own pace. I excelled in all areas of study, but when I returned to the public arena, I succeeded only in getting expelled again for the rest of the year. A teacher caught me coming out of the girls’ bathroom, where I had been inside smoking with a wannabe-girlfriend. He reached to grasp my arm and I yanked away and used several expletives to tell him to keep his hands off of me, which he did due to his fear of being assaulted. After that, I gave up on the school scene and stopped trying, which ultimately lead to me getting my education in the prison system–not a wise choice.

Read More

7 Prison Survival Secrets

By Christopher Zoukis / BlogCritics.org

Surviving a term of incarceration is no cakewalk. For all first-time prisoners, the transition from free-world living to prison culture is abrupt, extreme, and caustic. It’s like nothing else, and there are very real consequences to violating the unspoken codes of decorum and the concept of “respect,” a term which takes on a whole new meaning in the prison context.

Image courtesy citylab.com

Image courtesy citylab.com

This article presents seven secrets to surviving a term of incarceration. By internalizing and abiding by these principles, anyone new to prison culture will save themselves a lot of strife and possibly violent encounters.

In short, they can transform potential hard time to easy time.

Secret One: Don’t Snitch

The number one rule in prison is to not snitch. There is no worse crime in prison culture than to inform on a fellow prisoner. When serving time in prison, inmates often see others engaging in unsavory, unethical, or even illegal conduct. This is simply the way it is in prison. When such conduct is observed, the inmate should simply look away, continue on with whatever they were doing, and keep the knowledge of what transpired to themselves. When someone is found to have informed on fellow prisoners, they are usually either assaulted or “checked in” (forced to go into protective custody). By refusing to provide the prison administration with information, this very dangerous trap can be avoided in its entirety.

While there may be instances when it appears that keeping one’s mouth shut can result in disfavor from the powers that be, those consequences pale next to what can happen to a prisoner who is identified as a snitch by his fellows.

Read More

Mentor vs. Tutor: Battle of Both Worlds

By Andres Aznar

In a world like ours – mostly free and full of possibilities – exists a threat. It affects virtually all of the world’s population. It’s called: “The Decision.” Decisions are made in seconds. In fact, without decisions, our lives would be meaningless. Naturally, we strive to make the right decisions in our short lives. However, every decision we make has its own consequences, good and bad. The decisions we choose to make in life can bring many rewards, like success in life or the creation of a better future for our children and their children. Good decision-making can also foster a life with fewer struggles and better opportunities.  Image courtesy texasgearup.com

Some possess an enhanced ability to make decisions which allow positive consequences. They weren’t born with that ability. They just had very good guidance when they were children and while they were growing up. As such, those men and women are geared for success. Much comes easy to them. They’re the ones you remember from high school. The ones that you envied because they were always receiving perfect scores with seeming ease.

On the other hand, for some people, their life is a struggle: a struggle to make ends meet; a struggle to be the best that they can be. They try and try but always get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. While this is a challenging situation to be engulfed in, it illustrates a very telling contrast. By asking themselves, “Why is it so easy for those other people to succeed, but not me?” The answer – and their shortcomings – is evident: Guidance.

Read More

HOW SHOULD AN INMATE DEAL WITH TROUBLEMAKERS —

By George Hook

Before a targeted inmate goes off half-cocked, gets physically aggressive and winds up in more trouble than an antagonistic inmate or Correctional Officer has caused or can cause other, better options should be considered as alternatives.  Physical retaliatory aggression would constitute a crime subject either to official judicial or administrative action and punishment.  So that should be out completely.  What might be even more troublesome is ever escalating retaliation. “Kicking one’s can down the road,” to paraphrase from the current Congressional Fiscal Standoff, is not a viable solution. 

First, figure out what is causing the antagonism.  Parsing the cause is possible from observation, inquiry, and reputation.  Everyone will know something, at least, about a targeted inmate’s antagonist.  If the cause can be eliminated or modified, that should be done as the best, most expeditious solution.  A manner of speaking, an objectionable expression, a misperception may be easily corrected.  Self-awareness is a virtue, especially in prison.  Anger is not.

Read More

MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL

America’s attitude toward crime is based on geography and personal experience.  People living in Fargo, North Dakota worry less about crime affecting them personally than, say, people living in Oakland, California. 

Most Americans don’t believe that criminals are congenitally hardwired to commit crimes.  According to most people, the immediate causes of crime are illegal drugs and a lack of adequate deterrents.  Thus criminals involved in the use, distribution, sale, and possession of illicit drugs should be locked away for lengthy periods of time.  Harsher sentencing laws and harsher prisons serve to discourage future criminals is the general opinion. 

Read More