Daniel, 42

Meet Daniel…

It’s not easy to come to the point where you want to change your mindset. It can be a mentally painful process. I still have a lot of fine-tuning to do. It comes in increments, when it does, it feels good. My heart and mind feel nourished.

Incarcerated: 23 years

I was a gang banger with little fear of death. I had little respect for people, their belongings and especially their lives. Including my family members, my baby’s mommas. I never took heed to their messages, concerns or pleas. Anxiety attacks led to violence, blackouts, feelings I was an outcast. Depression led to hatred. I didn’t have ways to cope. I fell in love with the street life, where I found happiness. Chasing all sorts of women, mastering the art of mackin, I began to overcome anxiety and shyness. My father missed a big portion of my childhood, I didn’t know how to turn to him. My mother was busy working, paying bills and didn’t know how to help. She raised us alone. We were the roughest, toughest boy pair. If our attitude and temperament weren’t so much like hers, she probably would’ve given us up for adoption. I hit California’s Pelican Bay’s level four at 18. I had never worked a job or gone to school due to gang affiliations. I started going to church and school, self help groups and conflict management. I was forced to shift gears in my rehabilitation path. I began to get yard and participate in recreation. Convict politics on the yard was abundant. People handled their problems by stabbing each other. My last year went without incident and I transferred to a level three. It was lovely and quiet. I felt like I was at rehab rather than prison. You could see the mountains. We were surrounded by hundreds of trees. The correctional officers weren’t yelling all the time, they talked to us like human beings. We could walk into a self-help group and get a crash course. One time I fell asleep on the yard and had no worries about it. I reconditioned my thought process there. This really flipped my wig. I could see why I was in prison for 37 years. I was misguided, had no positive inspiration or motivation. So many lives could have been saved. It’s not easy to come to the point where you want to change your mindset. It can be a mentally painful process. I still have a lot of fine-tuning to do. It comes in increments, when it does, it feels good. My heart and mind feel nourished. 📸 Daniel’s

 

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