Prisoner at USP Beaumont Writes About Experiences
My name is Christian.
This story is based on my prison term and the wake up call that drove me towards a better lifestyle. I was arrested for conspiracy to possess and distribution of meth. I was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison. Only a couple of factors led to this point in my life. I like to be blunt about it because how I got here is a story of its own. I had an addiction and was completely selfish.
After many years of drug abuse I had created a delusion that was justified through my personal distorted beliefs. After my arrest while waiting for my sentence the fog began to clear. I began to look back and realized the damage I had caused. My parents where broken, my 6-month old son adopted by my parents because of my addiction, and my sons mother lost in a world that I dragged her into. I felt remorse, shame, guilt, and many other unbearable feeling that could easily be the excuse for me sedate my self through drugs. Only this time I could not escape, I had to face the consequences and the reality of my own creation. I accepted my chaos and came to terms with my bad choices in life. I fell on my knees and surrendered. I realized I had to quit in order to win.
My first stop was Beaumont U.S.P. and when I arrived I was immediately approached by different gangs. They stated that if I wanted to stay I had to join a group because the cell belonged to the individual groups. I realized that Devine intervention could only go so far. This being my first time in federal prison I bit the bait only to later realize that it was all a lie, plenty of others walked alone on the yard. The prison runs on distorted elementary principles and if I was still using I’m sure I would fit right in and run wild. Gratefully I was sober and now I was able to see the reflection of my old behaviors walking all around me. You see, without addiction I am a well educated, charismatic, ex-Marine who was trained as an aircraft mechanic, I love team work and helping others.
I began to evaluate my surrounding and began to surround my self with healthy relationships. Instead of hanging out with inmates who were up to no good I went to education to hang out with the tutors. I began to introduce my self to staff and looking for opportunities to help. At the same time, I had to keep a balance with the group I joined, I was convinced that I could not distance my self without consequences. I took advantage of a job at the library organizing and handling Spanish books, me being bilingual got me the job. I spent my afternoons in the library instead of the yard. I spent my time assisting others when I had the chance. After a year or more, a leader of my group came to the library and spoke to me. He stated that a few guys had expressed to him that I was a good person who took the time to listen and help them through some issues, he said that he respected me and the way I carried my self. The light came on! I realized how much of an influence my personal choices and character had on another.
I got a second job as a suicide companion which gave me more credibility with staff and allowed me to work with inmates who were suicidal. I also joined the Challenge program which provided me with the greatest asset; my personal evaluation in black and white. It provided me with a clear understanding of my personal problems, the goals and the interventions required to overcome them. I dedicated the first half of every day to the therapeutic community and facing my struggles. With full commitment to my treatment and with two jobs I had a couple of hours left to spare, which I dedicated to my physical health. I ensured that I lived a balanced lifestyle with healthy relationships, job satisfaction, and physical work outs. That completed my daily routine and left me with no time to place opinions or be involved with the prison politics.
Mentoring Others in Federal Prison
I became a mentor and my self confidence was peaked, I continued my recovery and began to mentor and help others achieve what I had. It was encouraging when others came and asked ” how did you do it” that meant to me that they saw something in me that they did not see in others. I then enrolled into the RDAP program where I continued to maintain my skills and tools that I learned through the Challenge. I incorporated the principles and techniques of the treatment program, for example; the 5 rules of rational thinking help me to evaluate my thoughts in order to make healthy choices. The positive attitudes helped to be optimistic about all circumstances and to handle difficult emotions or situations with a practical approach. I once again became a mentor after a year.
By focusing on my circle of influence like honesty, integrity, sobriety, and persistence I was able to influence the gang group I had joined in a positive way. I was called only when they needed me to help someone seek recovery or they wanted change in their life. They protected me by keeping me out of all criminal activity and allowed me to implement my skills to prepare others for society. I had found my purpose, finally I had begun to receive a return on my investment. This was all in about 5 years’ worth of time and consistency, I am now 3 months from the door and I leave behind a legacy that has inspired many others. A legacy that proves that one can make it through 5 years of incarceration and never have a conflict, and at the same time have such a positive impact that is changes the lives of others in a positive manner.
I have received two recommendation letters which is unheard of in a U.S.P. One of the letters states “Inmate Rodriguez not only mentor’s other inmates he also serves as an inmate companion. His transformation to a responsible adult has been a privilege to observe.” The second letter states “Inmate Rodriguez has proven to be a mature, patient, and open-minded, with good problem solving and communicating skills. He is a reliable individual who has credibility with both staff and inmates. He is responsible with a positive attitude and motivated individual who possesses the ability to work with authority figures.”
Having the courage to follow my heart instead of my fears has lead me to find my true self and my true character. I have transformed my reputation by living in a proactive manner and focused on something grater that my self. The rewards are worth the sacrifice, my family is back in my life, and I have a second chance at being a father and a husband. I even have the credibility and support network that will help me start a new future with a strong foundation. I look forward to continuing my journey and furthering my growth.
I thank God for this opportunity and His guidance. I thank (Glenna) the woman I left behind in a chaotic world and as recovered and never left my side. I thank Michael for allowing me the platform to share with others about my experience.
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