As humans we all are fallible but some are redeemable. Think about the worst thing you’ve ever done or said and ask yourself if you want to be judged by that singular act? That’s how convicted felonys are viewed by most in society. We’re not looked at as human beings who made a mistake(s), rather we are viewed as second class citizens even after we have paid our so called debt to society.
I said that to say, no amount of time will pay our “debt to society” or correct ones behavior, thoughts, actions, etc.. Its completely up to each individual to want to better themselves, to make real changes in those area’s that need improvement. Then return to society and start giving back and contributing. Don’t get me wrong there are a few programs, classes, and people in Virginia D.O.C. (department of corrections) that can and will help you, but none of it is mandatory. The only thing that is mandatory is those programs/classes that are federally funded, and the reason for that is the state receives federal money for said services. If not for that money, they would not be made mandatory.
Personally doing time is not paying any debt back to society, for my or anyone’s elses crime(s). On the contrary by doing more time than necessary after being rehabilitated, this is costing tax payers millions every year. They claim it cost around $30.000 to house one offender, well how much of that money is actually going towards that offenders rehabilitation? None. Its going into the pockets of the elected ones in suits and ties.
This is a first hand perspective from one man experiencing the criminal justice system. Now let me be transparent with those reading this, I’m serving a 48 year sentence for 1st degree murder. My actions caused a death and I should be held accountable for my actions but by what means? Should I just sit in prison year after year doing time as punishment or actually be rehabilitated and prepared to reenter society?
I’ve been incarcerated for 14 years now and at no point have I been encouraged to take any classes, programs, or go to any kind of therapy to better myself or address the issues that contributed to me coming to prison. However, I have chosen to take computer classes, go to therapy, to participate in programs, all to work on me and my issues. My point here is, the D.O.C. is not doing much correcting and there isn’t any rehabilitation happening.
I could be getting high, fighting, acting a complete fool and my release date will still be the same for the most part. See all new law offenders have to serve 85% of their sentence no matter what. There is no incentive to better oneself in prison. We only receive 4.5 days of good time for each month we serve, that is taken off our sentence(s).
Once one does rehabilitate him or herself there’s no avenue to pursue a sentence modification or realistic opportunity for release. The point here is those who choose to correct their behavior, change their thoughts and attitudes and actually become better human beings have no outlet to obtain a second chance to live amongst those in society.
Only a select few take the time and energy to work on themselves to become better perple. The Virginia D.O.C. is not concerned with anyone’s rehabilitation, its just a numbers game to them. Myself, like so many I meet in here are seeking a second chance to reenter and live in society. Once I return to society I will do community service, work and pay taxes, and give back to the community my actions have harmed.
My wish is not to be warehoused in D.O.C. costing tax payers $30.000 plus a year when I could be a self sustaining member of society. My charges say I’m violent but I’m not, I made a few bad decisions in a matter of seconds about 14 years ago. Unfortunately, my singular act cost something that I cannot replace or repay, a life.
Its taken me years to understand how many lives my actions have effected. I was a lost individual searching for the unknown. Had my heart broken and did not know how to process those feelings/emotions. By trying to hold onto what wasn’t there any longer, I unknowingly put myself in one bad situation after another. Then one night in just a few seconds, everything changed forever.
Those who actually know me know I’m no threat to anyone in society but to those in the D.O.C. they don’t care to know me or anyone else. It is just a matter of how much time you have given them and how much money they have gained from your incarceration. Their not in the business of fixing or helping offenders leave prison better than when they came in, just the opposite is happening most are leaving worse than when they came in. I want to throw up when I hear these people in their suits and ties talk to the public and media about rehabilitation and programs, for its just an illusion to those of us living in this environment.
I hope our society still believes in giving those deserving a second chance to live in and amongst those in the free world. I fully understand the damage my actions have caused and when given the opportunity I will right as many of those wrongs as I can. However, there’s nothing I can do to bring back the life my actions took, so how does one pay back that debt? I don’t have all the answers but I have chosen to move forward living my life in a positive manner, being an example of what not to do, to share my story with anyone, to talk about the issues of those who are/have experienced domestic violence. I’ve been on both sides of the fence when it comes to domestic violence and those unrecognized issues are what directly brought me to prison. It took me years of searching and therapy to start understanding and addressing these issues. I now have coping skills to address these types or any other issues that may arise in the future.
I need to stress that none of the transformation that I’ve been through was made mandatory by the D.O.C. I wish that all offenders coming into prison would have to take mandatory classes and/or therapy to address ones issues. This would start the rehabilitation process and hopefully give some a second chance.
If not for surrendering my life to JESUS CHRIST completely in 2013, I would not be in the situation I am today so all glory be to my Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST. Its not the work I do but the work of the one inside me that has brought this transformation about. I have good days and bad ones as well but I have a joy I never knew while living in society. There isn’t any reason to live your life stressing over this or that, people can choose to pay it forward by living a honest, respectful life and helping others. I know life is now about serving and not being served. If more people would take this approach and help those in need, this world would be so much better. We can all learn to forgive and ask for forgiveness, well as give people second chances.
Thank you for your time and I welcome anyones feedback or comments. Have a blessed life.
Categories: John Seay