I had an insight last week. During my first sentence in CA I constantly told myself (and others) that I wouldn’t let prison change me. I planned on not coming out of prison “hardened,” meaner or cynical. I intended to come out of the experience as emotionally unscathed and unchanged as I could. And I pretty much succeeded. I didn’t go all thug or turn into some bitter cynic. That’s the positive. This past week I realized the irony of going through prison swearing NOT to change. I didn’t change… and now I’m back in prison. At least this time around I am not only planning on changing I’m already doing it. Approaching incarceration as a mandatory monastic retreat is probably the best. The meditative yoga, taiji and introspection are helping me to learn to be call, practice compassion and most importantly to restrain my impulsiveness.
Update on my letter campaign of writing letters to state officials in order to affect improvements to the penal system: I’m failing. Though I have repeatedly written to several state senators on multiple topics I’ve really only ever heard back from one, senator Baker, who said he and senator Pansing Brooks would bring up the issue of applying 191 good time to parole eligibility dates with the Judiciary committee this session. In spite of 2 emails asking what the Judiciary committee’s opinion was, senator Baker never responded, which leads me to believe it was never even brought up. As senator Baker is retiring and even my own senator, Pansing Brooks, never responded to any letter of mine in 2 years, I don’t know if it’s worth asking my father to keep sending them on my behalf. *sigh*
The Inspector General of Corrections and the Ombudsman have been more responsive though they don’t really have any power to change anything. I regularly correspond with the I.G. and I appreciate his work but I don’t see much impact from his reports or inspections. The Ombudsman seems even less influential as the I.G. at least reports to and testifies before the Legislature.