Jayme, 31

Jayme, 31

Meet Jayme…

My mind tended to use my internal turmoil to fuel thoughts of violent aggression.

Incarcerated: 10 yrs
Housed: Airway Heights Correctional Center, Washington

Waking up day in and day out filled with anger and rage, compounded with the hopelessness of a 45 year sentence, I found myself doing a lengthy stretch in the “hole.” Isolated and left alone with my thoughts I became frustrated. Discovering my train of thought seemed to always roll down the tracks of hurt, pain, and anger, I grew tired of spending my days dwelling on the negative. I recall asking myself if I were crazy. My mind tended to use my internal turmoil to fuel thoughts of violent aggression. I was convinced this was just who I was, subject to the whims of my thoughts and powerless over my mind. It wasn’t until I picked up a book on Buddhism and learned to meditate, that I began to comprehend that my brain is a tool and not the other way around. This epiphany is the cornerstone of the transformation that developed me into the man I am today. I began to understand that the chain of events making up my life experiences were heavily influencing my current thought patterns and how I was choosing to perceive and engage them, was causing me to perpetuate my own suffering. The deeper I dove into my own past, viewing my experiences from a stance of compassion, I noticed a shift in my mentality. One morning looking out the window in my cell door, I spotted a rival gang member pacing the dayroom. Typically my thoughts would gravitate towards how I could cause him harm, but this time was different. As I watched, I started questioning the life experiences that made him who he was. I began wondering who he was, and if we struggled with similar things. My heart was open to compassion and I started seeing my enemy for the human being he was. I asked myself if in some other dimension, would we be friends? That moment it clicked what I had just done. I rehumanized my supposed enemy. I knew with this new lens, I couldn’t continue down my old path, so I chose to walk away. This was the revaluation leading to the renewal of my own mind. The first step in reclaiming my own life, starting anew, and taking another direction. This was the moment I learned that I could change. I wasn’t hopeless.

Victor, 29

Victor, 29

Meet Victor…

I had to let go of everything I was taught as a child and believed to be true in order to revise myself.

Incarcerated: 10 yrs
Housed: Airway Heights Correctional Complex, Washington

I’m going to be frank even though my name is Victor. I don’t walk around thinking I’m Mr. Tough guy, like I’m 6’ tall because I’m only 5′ 7”. I do walk around with a big smile on my face and take pleasure in helping others transition their enslaved mindset into a free one. Our bodies may be encaged, but our minds can be free. I was born into an environment where drugs, gangs, and violence was the norm. Where my father ruled with an iron fist, what he said went, and you better not challenge him. Even though I was brought up in this environment, I still wanted better, but the cards weren’t in my favor. Luckily for me, I received a full scholarship to the school of life, where I would be able to discover who I’m capable of becoming or perish in the process… As you can see, I’m still here. I came in at the age of 19 with 15 years to learn. I once heard a famous saying, “there is a great amount of untapped potential in prison and the graveyard.” To me this is both literal and figurative. Literal because of how true it is, but figurative because the graveyard is where our dreams go when we don’t act on them, and in prison because we always imprison our mind, unaware of our true potential. I was a product of my upbringing and I didn’t fully understand the consequences my actions caused. I’m asking as an advocate, please try and understand us, but if you can’t, don’t be so quick to judge us. We are only a product of our environment. During the course of my incarceration I took the liberty of educating myself, ranging from cognitive behavior, anger management, emotional intelligence and self-awareness. I had to let go of everything I was taught as a child and believed to be true, in order to revise myself. I am now a facilitator for some of these classes. In the process of creating a reentry program, and I’m wrapping up my AA in business and engineering. People can change, if they really want to. I used to be a product of my environment, now I make my environment. Please don’t judge a book by its cover, or in our case a person by their department of corrections number.

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