The bridge between successful reentry for returning citizens and recidivism may be a narrow path to follow but those who chose to become productive members of society learn to cross it and to stay focused on living a new way of life. Dr. K. and I are only two examples of those who continue to be success stories by choosing not to return to old behaviors.
In this blog I am giving props to Dr. K., because I am proud of him for satisfying the full term of his court mandated supervised release. Supervised release in the federal system is the same as parole in state systems.
Dr. K. is a man I helped a few years ago to win a post-conviction relief motion.
He won his case in federal court and left the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons several years before his original release date. He remains a free man and is living his new life as a truck driver/owner/operator.
In one of my favorite blogs, Out of Many (Out of Many | STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN), I mentioned Dr. K. for giving me one of his magazines to read that I used to write the blog. He also used to encourage me to write from a more positive perspective, rather than the negative one I used to shoot daggers into an issue or public individual I found offensive.
Dr. K., like me, walked out of the prison doors with a goal in mind related to helping others to successfully reintegrate into society. I sought to use straightfromthepen.org and straightfromthepen.net to challenge the status quo of mass incarceration, and he the creation of a non-profit organization geared toward providing resources to help returning citizens. After our release, mine of which came much later, both of us ran into an issue of not having public support to accomplish our goals. That hasn’t stopped either from continuing to live our lives in a productive manner that does not include committing crimes.
Prison life often divides people because of its racial nature.
He is an African American and I am of the lighter persuasion. Our racial and cultural differences never interfered with our bond as friends while working in the Quality Management office for an ISO certified factory, or when walking an asphalt track to discuss events or to plot the next legal move in his case.
The main thing today is that we remain free and strive to be successful as returning citizens to show others that positive change is possible and that our past does not define who we are today. Our lives show that returning citizens can stay out of prison to become part of the solution (being a positive role in society) instead of part of the problem (another number in the recidivism column for Mass Incarceration).
I’ll close with an excerpt from Out of Many
“UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL: Our beliefs and values may unite or divide us; whether based on racial or cultural differences or similarities, religion, politics, fears, sexual preference or identity, and a whole array of other reasons.
“How do we keep from falling? Join hands and accept each other so we can work together to survive this thing we call life. If each of us represents a ‘cell’ of the humanity organism, those who damage and injure others are the cancers of society, driven by hate and indifference.” Wayne T. Dowdy, Out of Many.