I guess I don’t have any followers yet but that’s cool. I ‘m going to write any way. How many of you have a loved one in prison? Not jail, prison? How many of those loved ones are serving 10 years or more? We are long-term offenders. Many of us are loved by y’all but if y’all really want to keep it real, we are “out of sight-out of mind.” In many cases, that’s what the fuck we deserve because we didn’t think about y’all when we were out there. We thought about ourselves and our actions showed it. Why would y’all go out your way for us now? But, there are those of us who were good out there and for whatever reasons we just fucked up and now we are sitting here with all this time and losing our grip on those relationships with family that mean so much to us.
In my last blog, I asked “What is The Long-Term Offenders’ Organization? It is an inmate organization that I founded. The mission of The LTO Organization is to create and facilitate programs, events, activities, and other opportunities that meet the rehabilitative needs of men and women serving long prison sentences. These days, prison is designed to meet the needs of people who are short-term offenders (serving 5 years or less to their release). While those of us serving 5 years or more are not eligible for most rehabilitative opportunities within the system that contribute to change.
Since I had a college education on the streets and leadership skills from serving in the Army, I had skills that could benefit other incarcerated men and women. For years, I used those skills as a GED Tutor and a Program Aide, however, the only people I could work with were guys who were going home soon (short-term offenders). I liked the fact that I could use my LIFE sentence to help others. This gave my life some purpose that I needed to feel relevant, but I came to realize that the only opportunities for personal growth available to me were opportunities I provided to myself. I had to find books to read, find those rare intellectual conversations in prison that could elevate my consciousness. Whenever I tried to sign up for programs or college courses or anything, I got the same dreaded response that always made me feel irrelevant, “Sorry, but you have too much time.” What does the amount of time I have got to do with my eagerness and an opportunity to improve upon my LIFE circumstances? That is foolish! But, that is the prison system in Ohio.
I became frustrated. It was cool for the system to utilize me for the benefit of furthering their agenda for short-term rehabilitation, but when it came to me and others like me, oh well, “sorry, but you have too much time.” I wanted to change that. I had read so many books that had helped me to turn my life perspective around. That, along with my past education and life/ LIFE experiences, I worked with a prison psychologist and a friend of mine to put together a special group for long-term offenders, which is now called The Long-Term Offenders’ Support Group. The purpose of this support group is for long-term offenders to express the many commonalities associated with doing long prison bids. The opportunity to just ‘vent’ was liberating. This began in 2011, at another institution I was at. Today, The Long-Term Offenders’ Organization is in two prisons, with 12 rehabilitation programs designed specifically to meet the needs of long-term offenders. We have 6 annual events, numerous leadership training opportunites, community outreach opportunities, and more. My vision is to make The LTO organization a state wide organization, changing and improving the lives of long-term offenders throughout prisons in Ohio. That is a large endeavor, but I didn’t even think it would get as big as it has gotten today when I came up with the very first program (The LTO Support Group).
To those loved ones of people who are serving long prison sentences, whether we were good to y’all when we were out there or not, if you feel we are worthy of your support and you do not want us to be “out of sight-out of mind, then get on board with me and be a part of this Long-Term Offenders’ Organization movement. Reach out to your loved ones and if they are ready and willing, build with them. I am dedicating my LIFE to making a difference for men and women serving long prison sentences on my end, but the ultimate progress of this movement will take the support of the outside community as well. Hit me up and talk to me at JPay. com. My name is Patrick O. Stokes #331-308, and this is another Blog from: LIFE WITH PATRICK.
Patrick O. Stokes
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