Chris Bingley/ Class 1: Values
16. Who are you?
I am a young man who has made mistakes in the past. I am also trying to better myself daily, in order to be a benefit to society upon my release.
17. Describe your background with regard to your education, vocation or career, troubles with the law.
Since I have been in prison I have graduated from high school. I am now taking college classes, with the goal of earning an AA degree. I am also participating in the Straight A Guide program.
18. What are you going through now?
I am going through the hard work of trying to become a better man. It is easy to be lazy and do nothing. At times it can be hard to pick yourself up and commit to do the work of changing yourself for the better.
Describe your vision of the best person you can become during the following time frames:
19. Time remaining to serve.
I can become stronger mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. I can also be more kind to the other prisoners around me.
20. One month after release.
I can get on my feet as soon as possible and contribute to my loved ones emotionally and financially.
21. One year after release.
I can be a in a position where I am able to give back to young people who have followed the wrong path that I once did.
22. Five years after release.
I can have a career and I can be a pillar of strength and stability to my loved ones.
23. How do those in society perceive people in prison?
They see people in prison as monsters who rob society and never contribute to society. They see as evil people who do not deserve second chances.
24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:
Movies and televisions depict prisoners as being extremely violent. They also depict prisoners as being cold and callous.
25. Compare and contrast your prison adjustment with the prison stereotype.
I have used my time in prison to think deeply about the life I lived. I decided I did not want to be the type of person who has to be imprisoned. Since I have made that decision I have taken the steps to develop myself mentally, spiritually, and intellectually.
26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?
TV always depicts prisoners as buff guys who always work out. During my incarceration I have noticed the importance of exercise and I now work out to condition my body.
27. In what ways is your adjustment different?
I obey the laws inside this prison in preparation for obeying all the rules in the real world.
Describe what opportunities for personal growth and development exist in the different prison security levels:
28. High security.
There is more cell time which can be used to do activities that require quiet such as reading, writing, praying, and meditation.
29. Medium security.
30. Low security.
There are more opportunities to interact with others and learn from them.
31. Minimum security.
I have never been.
32. Prior to release, what do prisoners generally say about their prospects for returning?
Some prisoners are afraid of failing and returning to prison. Some have plans of going to school or finding a job. Most say they will not return.
33. In what ways, if any, do those who never return to prison serve their sentences differently from those who do return to prison?
They do not follow crowds or do negative things for acceptance. They set goals for themselves and work daily to accomplish their goals.
34. What steps can a prisoner take to improve chances of success upon release?
By doing all that he can to improve himself in everyway possible. Also by picturing what he wants to do as a career and learn as much as possible while he is incarcerated.
Sentence length is not a factor that is controlled from within prison, but adjustment inside prison may influence success upon release. For a better understanding of prison expectations, describe your thoughts on:
35. What length of time would you consider long-term imprisonment?
25 years or more.
36. What expectations do those in society have for long-term prisoners?
I think society forgets about long-term prisoners.
37. What expectations do you suppose long-term prisoners have for themselves?
They expect to better themselves in every way and never return to incarceration.
38. What do prison administrators and staff members expect of long-term prisoners?
They expect long-term prisoners to stay out of trouble.
39. How would you define a “model inmate”?
A prisoner that obeys all laws laid out by prison officials. They never argue with, or challenge the staff.
40. How does Michael’s prison journey support or refute prison stereotypes?
I think he supports prison stereotypes because Michael is a strong man not easily broken or hindered from his goals by prison officials. I think he refutes stereotypes because he fought hard for opportunities to better himself, especially his education. He did not participate in the things many inmates do. Instead, he focused on bettering himself.
41. What role did the prison infrastructure play in influencing Michael’s journey through prison?
While doing his time Michael envisioned what he wanted out of life. Once he saw what he wanted he took steps toward his goal.
42. What vision governed Michael’s decisions as a prisoner?
His vision of being an educated man. Also his vision of one day being a contributing member of society.
The Straight-A Guide includes seven attributes that he describes explicitly in the books Triumph! And Success! What do the following attributes mean to you?
43. Attitude: What level of commitment do you make to preparing for success upon release?
Honestly, not as much as I should. In prison it is easy to be distracted by surviving one day at a time instead of thinking and planning for the future. I am trying to improve in this area.
44. Aspiration: Where do you see yourself at various checkpoints in the future?
Before I am released I plan to have an AA degree at least. After I am released I see myself being a successful business/family man. I also see myself being a role model for young people to prevent them from making the mistakes I did.
45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?
As aspiration can be accomplished through hard work. Fantasies live in the mind and usually stay there. No steps are being taken to bring a fantasy to reality.
46. Action: What steps are you taking toward aspiration?
I am taking college courses and involving myself in self-help groups. I try to involve myself with positive people who can help me to grow.
47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?
I am progressing well, but I also know I could do better. I am trying to do better at accomplishing more.
48. Awareness: How knowledgeable are you about the atmospherics around you?
I am very knowledgeable of where I am and what I want to be in the future.
49. In what ways do you reach beyond the boundaries that currently confine you?
I reach out to good people via mail and telephone. They give me advice and let me know what I should be doing to prepare for release.
50. What do you know about the challenges that will confront you upon release?
I know it will be difficult to find a good career because of my felony conviction. Also purchasing a place to live and my own means of transportation.
51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?
When all of my goals are accomplished.
52. Appreciation: What role do others have in your success?
A big role. At times others believe in me and I do not believe in myself. They give me advice that leads me in the right direction I should be headed.
53. Where did those choices lead?
My choices led me to get kicked out of a good school and sent me to a bad school, which began a downward spiral for me.
54. What did you value then?
Fast money and fast cars.
55. How would you guide your children if they were making choices in the same way?
I would explain the consequence of their actions to them. I would explain to them a “better way.” This “better way” would make them and their families proud.
56. What would you do differently if you could?
I would have stayed in school and listened to my parents. I would have stayed in church and I would not have been a follower.
57. Describe the differences in your life today from the first days of your confinement.
I now follow my own compass, but in high school, I would do what my friends did. I value my spiritually. I appreciate the love of my family members.
58. How have your activities from last week led to your activities for this week?
My activities from last week get me closer to accomplishing my goals.
59. Identify the values by which you live.
Honesty, kindness, hard work.
60. To what extent do your daily activities harmonize with the values by which you live?
In everything I do my values are with me.
61. How do your professed values relate to your perceived role in society?
They values will help me to be a contributing member of society.
62. Where does your allegiance lie?
To my family.
63. Are values situational or absolute?