John’s thoughts on changing and going forward.

Ashly John "thinker"

June 2015

I got a letter just Saturday from a young man in here who I mentioned to you in 2009. He was the one I spent 60 days in the Hole with who was always getting whooped by the police because he refused to bow down to them.  He is the one who said he’d rather spend the rest of his life in prison and only had 5 ½ years to go until he maxed. Well, my talks worked. He told me he’s done. -That he’s getting on a train June 11, 2015 and leaving here for better pastures. He told me thanks for everything and to keep in touch. He gave me his address until June 12th. I wrote him back another encouraging letter and told him whenever he gets to where he’s going and settled in, to write me. I told him I’ll always be here if he needs someone to talk to.

Part of what I do is this. I have every experience under my belt to help those in my position now. I know about child molestation, going hungry as a youth, being beaten as a youth, sex, drugs, alcohol, crime, suicide, homicide, not loving, hating the world, hating being born. Nothing but destruction.  Juvenile detentions, jails, prisons, living on the streets, almost drowning, shot, stabbed, damn near beat to death. With these qualifications I know how that person feels. I may not know his particular situation, but I know its outcome. When I sit down and I talk to a man, or even the guards, I let them know my background. I let them know that at every second it is their choice and their choice alone to start a clean slate. To start life anew.

The only way to change is to change your thinking. Never give up on anything. You will be attacked with adversity, though it will make you stronger if you do not give in. I know about giving in. I fight it every day. By going somewhere else, it does not change you. You know the cliché “All things change.” Well, it’s people who change their thinking and by changing their thinking all other things begin to change.

If you continue to dwell on the negative things that surround you and the past, you will never be able to see the positive in things. In any confinement you must avoid drugs, alcohol, crime and hate of any kind because as long as one keeps that on their mind, they will take it to the world with them. Not only maybe they come back, the influence it has on others can cause them to come to prison. It can also cause you and others death. Innocents, friends or family. It can cause one to become physically, mentally, or spiritually fucked up for life. I tell them if they truly loved themselves they would change and show they loved their families or whomever they say they love. Because getting out and committing crime is not showing love.

I have guys say, “Man, I’m trying to go home.” I tell them, “No, you’re not, because if you really wanted to go home, you’d stop going to the hole or getting in fights, smoking dope, getting caught with cell phones, etc.”

Words don’t mean shit. It’s when a person physically attacks you that you defend yourself. Other than that, it doesn’t matter what anyone says because if you think you’re a man, act like a man. A real man takes care of his family by being there for them. A coward dodges their responsibility.

You say you supported your family through the selling of drugs or whatever criminal activity. Well, they must all be dead now since you’re not supporting them. No, they’re doing great. The old lady got a job at such and such, kids doing good. So why is it that you committed a crime when you were out there and now talk about going back out and doing it again? So you can destroy their good life?

I tell them to go to the library and get books on a skill they want to learn. Have their family send them books. Take vo-tech here before they get out. This way you have a working knowledge and degree to take with you to the world. This will give you advantages.

You help by setting an example with your own life. That is why the cliché “Do as I say, not as I do” is B.S. All learn by examples.  Then I tell them how they like being behind bars. Being told what to do, when to do it, what to eat, how much to eat, how much toilet paper you get.  Is that what you want? Hey, it’s your life. I really wish you’d see your life and it’s worth as I see it. Though one day you’re going to wish you listened to this old man, just as I wish I’d have listened to those in my life because you may end up like me and be trapped behind bars forever.  These are the things I talk about and can talk about because I lived it. I don’t have degrees, plaques or trophies of any achievements of greatness. I didn’t get college education from reading books on subjects. No, I lived it. My degrees are in sex, drugs, alcohol and crime. My trophies are my rap sheets. -My plaques, the scars upon my body and soul that weigh my mind down at times. Yet, even with three life-without sentences, the possibility of parole sentences run consecutively. I still and will never give up hope.

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