Darrell Tatum/ Class 1: Values

by Darrell Tatum

16. Who are you?

I am a person who believes in family.  A person who will help a person in need. I am a person of many trades.  I strive for everything in life that I have obtained.

17. Describe your background with regard to your education, vocation or career, troubles with the law.

My education was good. I stayed in school to get future learning.  I went to college to obtain an assoicate degree in civil construction, then I received my certification in HVAC.  I made a 8 year career with the US Armym but I still had my run ins with the law.  I started when I was 15, but I left for military and when I came back to the states, I ran into trouble again. Just bad decisions.

18. What are you going through now?

Being away from my kids, mom and grandma is hard, brutal. I was there sole providers. Being around people who really do not want to improve. That makes me sick here cause I am surrounded by this, but like the Straight-A Guide says, I must stay focused, driven and all I need to do and let others do their own thing.

Describe your vision of the best person you can become during the following time frames:

19. Time remaining to serve.

I must have the mindset of a businessman; I must take every course I can, learning different skills. I cannot waste a day.

20. One month after release.

Striving to stay out by focusing on expanding my business, and spending time with my family.

21. One year after release.

Continuing to stay close to family, and working to make sure my goals are completed.

22. Five years after release.

Hopefully, successful in all areas of my life, and involved in franchising or sub-leasing.

23. How do those in society perceive people in prison?

People follow the stereotypes they see on TV. The truth is there are a lot of educated, hardworking people in prison. I am one of them. We just made some mistakes, and are paying a heavy price.

24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:

They make it out as a very bad, brutal place.  Always killing or raping or just plain violence.  Do not get me wrong. That can happen to some in prison but not all the time and not in all prisons.

25. Compare and contrast your prison adjustment with the prison stereotype.

I adjust in my own routine, my own schedule, not letting the institution define my happiness. I must stay strong, ready, and respect others. I stay focused on coming home.

26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?

Similar in that respect is important. It matters here.

27. In what ways is your adjustment different?

I avoid all criminal activities, unlike what you see on TV.

Describe what opportunities for personal growth and development exist in the different prison security levels:

28. High security.

Respect! Taking responsibility of your actions and begin putting your life back in order. Make positive plans.

29. Medium security.

Learn vocational skills and attend programs that might be around.

30. Low security.

Planning for future, getting yourself ready mentally and physically.

31. Minimum security.

Same as above.

32. Prior to release, what do prisoners generally say about their prospects for returning?

All say they are not coming back.

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 stay in their zone, keeping all the things that put them in prison out of their mind. They focus on bettering themselves, and being around positive people.

34. What steps can a prisoner take to improve chances of success upon release?

Find god, find a trade, and think positively and plan.

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?

More than a year.

36. What expectations do those in society have for long-term prisoners?

A lot of people I come across think little of us, and when they do think we are just bad.

37. What expectations do you suppose long-term prisoners have for themselves?

The goal is to use all this time wisely. We must strengthen ourselves mentally and physically. We must take classes that will benefit us on the outside.

38. What do prison administrators and staff members expect of long-term prisoners?

Some really do not care. I hate to say that but it is the truth.

39. How would you define a “model inmate”?

A positive person who accepts what he has done wrong and now is correcting it and bettering himself. A person who is getting ready to be a law-abiding citizen.

40. How does Michael’s prison journey support or refute prison stereotypes?

He was striving to make the best out of a bad decision, never complaining, and always trying to improve. Some people do not expect that.

41. What role did the prison infrastructure play in influencing Michael’s journey through prison?

His mentors played a large role. They believe in him because he worked hard.

42. What vision governed Michael’s decisions as a prisoner?

His vision was education, and improving. To prove that any prisoner with work can do the impossible.

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?

I am always positive. I make goals and work to stick with them.

44. Aspiration: Where do you see yourself at various checkpoints in the future?

I aspire to be a better father, and be successful and gage progress along the way.

45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?

Fantasy is just a dream, an aspiration is striving for a goal.

46. Action: What steps are you taking toward aspiration?

I have a plan, and  continue taking certain steps to complete my plan.

47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?

I’m still doing research on this, but check my progress frequently to ensure I am on track.

48. Awareness: How knowledgeable are you about the atmospherics around you?

Very knowledgeable. I only have a handful of people I really deal with.

49. In what ways do you reach beyond the boundaries that currently confine you?

I learn and give my own business advise to others, and try to share those skills and my work ethic with others outside prison. I want them to see how hard I am working.

50. What do you know about the challenges that will confront you upon release?

I know what is out there. Life is a challenge itself, so I will have to make better decisions and prepare.

51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?

Celebrating is a thank you prayer, knowing I am on the right track.

52. Appreciation: What role do others have in your success?

I hope others get involved in my success and see how hard I am working to change and improve, especially my son.

53. Where did those choices lead?

My choices in high school led me into the dope game, a losers game. It almost led me to jail at an early life.

54. What did you value then?

I valued nothing. I was able to maintain myself and put up for a rainy day. That took a lot of pain from my mom paying my way through school. I kept that away from her by having a job on the side.

55. How would you guide your children if they were making choices in the same way? 

I will show them that there is always a better way. You just have to be patient and strive for better things in life.

56. What would you do differently if you could?

Not be in the drug trade. I would have stayed in the Army and strived for a BA or masters degree.

57. Describe the differences in your life today from the first days of your confinement.

More focus on the right things. I changed my thinking. Working on a good life.

58.  How have your activities from last week led to your activities for this week?

I just take it day by day, but I do a lot of work and researching on anything that is positive.

59. Identify the values by which you live.

I valued my kids, mom and grandma. Thoughts of them keep me focused on the tasks ahead.

60. To what extent do your daily activities harmonize with the values by which you live?

They harmonize because I am always working and staying productive.

61. How do your professed values relate to your perceived role in society?

I make all my values count! If I follow them I will stay on track and lead a good life.

62. Where does your allegiance lie?

My allegiance follows living the Straight A Guide, and to be a positive role model.

63. Are values situational or absolute?

Situational. Sometimes values are different and we must be aware of that.



One Response to “Darrell Tatum/ Class 1: Values”

  1. BINO says:


Leave a Reply


Copyright 2019 The Michael G. Santos Foundation