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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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