While looking for inspiration for my next class, I came upon this great column by California-based career counselor Maureen P. Nelson. Nelson, who works for the Oakland Private Industry Council has spoken to soon-to-be-released prisoners in San Quentin and other correctional facilities about starting over.
Here are some of the reason they’ve given her for wanting to go straight:
•“I’m tired of looking over my shoulder — for the police or for a peer who wants me dead.”
•“I want my kids/nieces/nephews to be able to look up to me, not be ashamed of me. I was gone for much of their lives; I want to be there now. I want to be a good role model.”
•“I’m too old to do this anymore.”
•“I realize everything I’ve done has brought me to where I am and only I can change things.”
•“I have the power to help others: to be a drug counselor or social service worker helping re-entry people like myself. Or warning away people younger than me.”
•“I have something that inspires me to do better: my faith/my role models/my ethnic tradition.”
•“I don’t want to go back to prison — it’s overcrowded, unpleasant, violent.”
•“I want my freedom; I want to make my own decisions about daily life.”
Do any of these sound familiar? Are there others you’d care to add? Feel free.