Questions from Criminal Justice Students at University of Maryland:
In the memoirs we have read, the main characters have met more experienced prisoners who have helped them learn the ropes. Did you have this experience? Or did you learn to navigate the system on your own?
My journey differed from most prisoners, I suppose. I was arrested when I was 23 and I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d never been incarcerated before. In the beginning I made a series of bad decisions. All I really wanted at that time was for my lawyer to get me out of jail. It wasn’t until a jury convicted me on every count that I realized I had to make some changes in my life. At that time, I was still locked in the county jail.
During that awkward transition between the day of my conviction and the day of my sentencing, I made a commitment to spend every day of my sentence working to reconcile with society. Specifically, I wanted to use my time inside to prepare for the challenges I expected to face upon release. That adjustment required that I project thoughts into the future rather than live in the present.
Rather than striving to live in accordance with the culture of the penitentiary, I focused on a three-pronged strategy. I wanted to work toward educating myself, toward making measurable contributions to society, and toward building a support network. Those principles guided my adjustment and my every decision, including the people with whom I associated. In summary, and in response to your questions, my commitment to preparing for success upon release necessitated that I learn to navigate the prison system on my own.
Vivian Shafrin of CriminalJusticeDegreeHub.com contacted me with a request that I share a fascinating infographic she created to show the evolution of the death penalty. She did a great job of providing a visual that readers could appreciate and I’m happy to share her work. I admire people who work to help others understand why reforming America’s criminal justice system makes sense for all Americans.
Testing to see whether my blogs automatically feed to Twitter.
On August 12, 2013, I finished serving more than 26 years in federal prison. That same day, I went to SRV Studios in San Ramon, California to film the commercial above. We’re using the commercial to apprise the market of our Straight-A Guide Reentry Program.
Natalie DeFreitas educates a TEDx audience in Canada about the virtues of Restorative Justice. She makes a compelling case to show how society errs by equating justice with punishment. As a society, we should work together in ways that will bring more offenders back into the fabric of society as law-abiding, contributing citizens.