By Christopher Zoukis

Today I put a water container — like a plastic shaker cup — down on a table in my prison’s housing unit and walked over to the computer area to check my email.  I was on the computer for perhaps 10 minutes, then I returned.  Upon my return I was very disappointed to find that someone had broken the plastic which connects the water container to its lid.  Since nothing was missing, the only motivation for doing so, that I can imagine, is that some inmate in my housing unit was feeling like being sadistic.  That someone was feeling like making another’s day a bit worse, for no other reason than to do so.  While this is not new to me, I still found it disappointing.

A lot of the work I do is thankless work.  I advocate for prisoners and their rights.  I do so for free and am often disconnected from the response to the work due to being imprisoned and not able to be online or use normal email.  While I have had a good response from those outside of prison, inside prison is a different story.  Inside prison I’m just some young white guy with red stars tattooed on his hands.  Inside, I’m simply some sort of target which fellow prisoners feel that they should try to take advantage of, not because of the color of my skin or because of my age, buy because I’m a fellow prisoner.  For some reason, prisoners seem to feel as though it is ok to screw one another over because we’re in the same position.  It makes no sense at all to me and it is very disheartening.  It’s as if the guards aren’t kicking you or putting you down, a fellow prisoner is more than willing to fill the void.

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By K.I. Love

Change [rehabilitation] starts with the individual. The person has to want to change, grow, and learn. This has to be a personal decision. This is a process that takes place naturally when our results don’t meet our expectations. In other words, when our circumstances are in contradiction with our desires, goals, or self-image, we entertain the idea of change.  Image courtesy mashable.com

This contradiction causes us anxiety and/or pain in some shape or form. When our lives don’t align with our ideals, then we move to correct or re-align ourselves. We rationalize the situation or minimize the problem so that we can eliminate the anxiety or discord in our lives.

What I have presented is an emotional process that we go through when we encounter a problem in life. Men are moved by their emotions. Therefore, if we are to attempt to influence people’s behaviors, attitudes, or conduct, then we have to stir their emotions — to produce anxiety and mental discord within that individual. You have to magnify and display the error in their thinking. If you can help a person see their blind spots, then you have the power to influence their thinking and therefore their actions.

This is the essence of education — to broaden perspectives so as to see thoughts, ideas, and actions in their entirety, as opposed to just a fractional percentage. How can we act tactically when our strategies are based only on a fraction of the data? If we do that, then our actions and performance will always come up short and/or produce failure. A limited view always limits the viewer and therefore limits performance. “When you know better, you do better.”

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