Give Yourself a Chance to Change

By Jay Goodman

Here I sit in my prison cell looking back over the last fourteen years of my life, I feel many different emotions. Naturally, when you lose that many years of your life it will cause you to either do everything in your power to not think about it, or you will start taking a very serious look at yourself. For some people, looking at themselves is scary. Some of them may have lived a horrible life, and the realization of how they have spent their lives is something some people cannot handle. It’s like a person who is experiencing chest pain for days, but refuses to go see a doctor. Because that person knows something is wrong and they're afraid to face reality. I have seen such people in my lifetime, and they have both passed away. The absolute insanity of it is more than likely they both could have lived. How? By facing the truth and doing whatever was needed to solve the problem, whether it was with medication or surgery. It's the same for people in prison. If the prisoners would take a look in the mirror at themselves and their problems, and confront them head-on, they would soon learn they could put it all behind them.

There are a lot of smart people in prison, but unfortunately, they continue to do the same stupid things. I look around me, and see the majority of prisoners dream of the same things that most people have and do in life. The problem between the people in the world and the people in here is their thinking. For the people in prison, have you ever noticed that successful people seem to be able to do everything well. This is not because of some freak chance, but because of the foundation upon which they build their lives. The foundation of their lives is a strong commitment to personal development to struggle to become the better person they know they can be, in every area of their lives. Which in turn, transforms their family, relationships., community, country, and world. Truly successful people have character. Part of the character is an unwavering commitment to excellence. They know the art of discipline. Successful people just have better habits than the rest. You are your habits. Successful people are in the habit of working hard. Lazy people are in the habit of being unsuccessful. I see the real dangers of prison life is to slip into the prison ways, and into the prison thinking. One day after another, like the episodes of a soap opera. In a soap opera, there is always something happening, but nothing ever really happens. In every episode, there is drama activity taking place but nothing really meaningful ever happens: words are muttered, people abusing each other, people using each other, people talking about each other, people plotting and scheming. Their lives are filled with superficialities and they are constantly restless and miserable. There is no theme, no thread, just another entertaining episode.

Tell me, does this sound familiar? A lot of people in prison fall into this way of doing time. When the days and weeks of our lives become like this, we become depressed, disillusioned, and unhappy. The reason is without direction based on the purpose and meaning of our lives, the emptiness of our lives is overwhelming. So much so that we go in search of all types of distractions, most of which are self-destructive. There are moments of pleasure, but they are very brief in a long succession of a twenty-four hour day. What we truly desire is the fulfillment, joy, and ecstasy that comes from continually visualizing the better person we know we can be, and become, and do everything we can to become that better person.

A lot of people that come to prison play, what I call, the blame game: my mom and dad divorced, I grew up in a bad or abusive family. I never had the opportunities that others around me had. Every family has problems in the world. I read in a book once that 85% of all families are dysfunctional, so all of a sudden you are not so unique. But, our backgrounds are not the reason we are sitting in prison, they are only excuses. Because you grew up on the poor side of town does not mean you had to drink, use drugs, or become a criminal. Thousands of people that grow up in poor areas, become great men and women. Just like very rich kids, whose parents send them to great schools, and gave them the world. Ended up using drugs, or ending up in prison, or some kind of trouble. The individual experiences of our lives cannot be separated from the whole. All of life’s experiences, thus far have played a part in the person you are, right now. The point I’m really trying to make here is that we are not a composite of everything that has happened to us. Rather what happens in our lives is almost always a result of those things we habitually think and those things we habitually do. Life is the fruit of discipline, or not. We are our habits. So take this time in prison and let go of all those negative behaviors, that not only lead you here, but, will keep you here for the rest of your lives. Start building good habits now, and discipline yourselves in every way.  Look in the mirror and look at your strengths and your weaknesses. Make a list and look at it every day. You cannot change everything at once, but start focusing on small things. If you do this, you will start to see there is nothing you cannot change about yourself. Once you start focusing your energy on good habits, you will see over time that it becomes easier and easier. Naturally, you will have setbacks, especially at first. Never allow that to discourage you, just let it go, and move forward.

Remember this, the Texas prison system is not worried if you decide to change, or not. It's a proven fact that almost every single man and woman who do nothing while in prison, come back within a year. That is very easy to see no matter what unit you're at just look around, and you will see almost every man in eavh cell block has been to prison, twice or more times. I want everyone to ask yourselves this question. Have you ever met a prisoner who likes being in prison, here in Texas? I have been to maximum security units and to minimum security Units, and I have never met one person who likes either one of them. Now comes the real question. Why does everyone come back over and over? It's because hardly anyone is willing to take a serious look at themselves and change for the better. It's easier to come back in here and do nothing. Yes, a lot of prisoners will workout, which is great. But, most will cone right back in here and fall into their old prison ways, and into their old prison way of thinking. If everyone has noticed yet, these prisoners are the ones that the Puppetmasters love the very most. They sleep as much as possible, they are not worried about much, except watching TV, getting high, getting drunk, hang out with their home boys, and do absolutely nothing that's meaningful. Start doing something to educate yourself, learn about the law, and the prison policies, and ask, why is this happening, and you will see these men are not liked. Not because they are being rude or disrespectful, but because they understand the truth.

I have heard this statement throughout my years in the Texas prison system, "knowledge". For the people who love to use this word and throw it around, ask yourselves, is your new found "knowledge" helping you, or holding you back? Is it inspiring you to be a better person in every area of your lives? Is it going to help you to succeed once you leave prison? We make a thousand lifestyle choices every day. Those decisions either create or destroy the natural rhythm of life. Life is not a hundred-meter dash, it's a marathon. I have asked many people throughout my fourteen years in prison this question, "What do you want from life?" For the most part, the answers have been vague and general, not thoroughly thought out. If you have served years in prison and you don't have a plan, that means you are walking around aimlessly not giving any thought whatsoever to your future. A person without a plan is like a person out in an ocean without a compass. The waves will take them in any and every direction possible.

"Life", my fellow prisoners is a beautiful thing, way to beautifully to spend it in these Texas prisons. As all of us know this whole prison system is built on corruption. Even most of the guards don't realize what's going on, and how they are being taken advantage of. From the beginning of the Texas prison system until now, in 2019, we are looked at as slaves. Free labor to make the Puppetmasters money. They have used us, abused us, beat us, and "yes", killed us. They have committed more crimes than all of us put together, and did it all under the name of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Please, see this place for exactly what it is, and start making the necessary changes in your lives, to break the cycle that will keep you in here until you die. If you change your thinking, you will change your lives.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez