By Jay Goodman

Throughout my years in prison, I have heard prisoners use the statement I’m in prison, or we’re in prison when referring to why they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing. Like being in prison makes it all right to be an idiot. I have never understood this statement because what’s the difference in being in here or in the free world? After all you are still the same person. Tu some people in here it seems that because they’re in here it’s OK to act or become something just because everyone else is doing it. I have learned throughout my ears of incarceration that most prisoners are followers, they see someone else doing something and they jump right in. The odd thing is, a lot of men in prison survive a lifetime on the streets, of some of the worst civics you can imagine. I watch them in here and I can’t but help wonder why they cannot see the big picture of what happens to men that follow the pack. Some of these men are not stupid, they just can’t see the light. I spend time almost every day trying to plant the seed in their mind that there are other ways to life than this nothing life we have in here. I hear people in here say, once I leave prison, I won’t do this or that. So that tells me they are aware that whatever they are doing they shouldn’t be doing it.

Now I can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t do it in the street, why would you do it in here? This time we have in here is a big opportunity for us to reflect on our past, and turn our lives into something we will be proud of. Our lives are a series of choices, and those choices will either help us grow and prosper or it will keep us coming back to prison for the rest of our lives. I hear this from a lot of prisoners, “Man I’m tired of being in here.” I look at some of these men and think to myself, if you’re tired of being in here, why the hell are you doing everything in your power to come back to prison before you can leave? Because all of the choices you make while you’re in here will have a big impact on what happens to you out there.

For some reason no one seems to understand that that that change starts in here. How can you sit in here and be involved with selling or using drugs, and not expect to do it out there? How can you be involved in any kind of criminal activity in here and expect to go home and not do it out there? Because if you truly believe that you will change once you leave, you are fooling yourself. Not only that but this is the time to really make big changes in your lives. I want everyone reading this to think for a moment. We have 24 hours a day in here to work on ourselves. When can we ever in our lives find time for ourselves like this again? This time in here can be a very unique opportunity for everyone to set goals for themselves, and set a new course for your lives. Or you can keep thinking and doing the same old thing, and you’ll be right back in here saying, Man I’m tired of this place. How many times in life have each of us look back and thought, man I missed out on that great opportunity? I am sure everyone of us has experienced this in our lives. Well, don’t miss out on this great opportunity to really make great changes.

When I came to prison, I created a philosophy. If you can’t do the little things, how can you do the big things? Every day I used to say this to myself, until it became a part of me. Every time something came along that I really didn’t want to do, or just didn’t feel like doing, I would quickly remind myself of this.

I remember when I was a kid, my father taught me one of the most important lessons in my life. When I was around seven, he took me to my bedroom and said, “look son, you are old enough now to start having some responsibility. I want you to start taking care of your room.” He showed me what he expected of me, and last he showed me how to make my bed. Not just make it, but make it like he was taught in the military. After he was done, he stripped the bed and walked me through it until I had it down perfect. Then he asked me, “look around your room, doesn’t it look better this way?” I answered, yes. He then said, “whatever you have in life take pride in it.” I really didn’t think much of this conversation. I always love my dad, so I just did as he asked. As he left my room he said, make sure you do this every day before you leave for school. I said “okay.” For years I did as I was told, not really thinking of why he taught me this. Then one morning for whatever reason I decided not to do as my father has asked. Later that day when I came home from school, to my surprise, my dad was home. He was sitting with my grandfather drinking a beer. When he seen me, he smiled as and said, “hello son, did you have a nice day?” I answered, “yes.” He stood up and said, “come with me.” We walked into my room and he pointed at my bed, “is there something wrong with this picture”, he asked? I said, “yes, I forgot to make my bed.” He asked, “Did you forget or did you just decide not to do it?” I said, “I forgot.” He stood there looking at me for a minute, I knew that he was disappointed that I was lying. He understood something then that I hadn’t learned in life. Which was once you had been doing something for years like I had been making my bed, it becomes a part of who you are. I had conditioned myself to do this every day, it had become engraved in me. So, he said, “Make your bed, and let me know when you’re done.” Then he went back and sat with my grandfather. I made my bed, then told my dad. He came inside my room and looked at it. “Good job son.” Then to my surprise he tore my bed up, and told me, “make it again.” Then he went back and sat with my grandfather. Once again, I made my bed and told him. He came back and said, “good job,” and toured up again. Well, this went on for hours and hours. I kept making my bed all the way up until it was time to go to bed. Finally, he came in my room and said, “sit down son.” Then he sat down beside me. He looked at me and said, “listen, first thing I want you to know is that I love you. I am sure you must be thinking that it’s only been one time you haven’t made your bed. Why is dad being so hard on you? Were you thinking that,” he asked? “Yes,” I said. Because every single person in life has to learn responsibility. Sometimes being responsible isn’t always doing things we like. I remember when you and your brother Eric were born. Your mother and I were very happy. But for the first 6 to 8 weeks, you both would wake up in the middle of the night and one of us had to get up and feed you. It took a lot out of us, because we had to get up in the morning and go to work. On my day off, I have a responsibility to take care of the house, our cars, and everything else that comes with being a husband, dad, and homeowner. The list of responsibilities that I have never ends. When I showed you what I wanted you to do two years ago, it was a start of showing you responsibility he. And you’ve done very well. In the fact, you have been a good drive, I can already tell you Will be a good pilot. Then why did you have me make my bed for hours? I asked. Because you lied to me, when I asked you why you didn’t make your bed you said you forgot. When you’ve been doing something for many years, it becomes a habit. You’ve been doing this every day for two years, there was no way you forgot. But it’s all behind us now, do you understand why you’re having this conversation? “Yes,” I said. Good son, because everything we have in our lives comes with a responsibility. I want you to remember this day, not as a punishment but as an important lesson of life. People who never learn responsibility will never have nothing in life. Life is full of responsibility, and the sooner you learn this the more abundant and meaningful your life will be. I never have forgotten that day, and throughout my life I have shared the story with many people. That’s why I came up with the philosophy if you can’t do the little things, how can we do the big things? I believe everyone in prison will agree that the prison system as a hole does not care anything about its prisoners. The last thing on their mind is rehabilitation. So, it’s up to each of us to take responsibility in here for our own lives. Trade a plan, make some goals, and start taking responsibility for your lives.

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