David Muniz / Class 2: Goals

by David-Muniz

64. What values might lead a person to success upon release from prison?

Many values can help a prisoner work toward walking out of prison as a successful man. Thanks to the values I have acquired during these six year I have now served, I feel stronger and very confident of having a good future waiting for me when I’m released. The values that have help me during my time and that I recommend every prisoner live by include, without a doubt, having faith on God, loving your family, taking care of your body, and never stopping yourself from getting educated. To me God, family, fitness, and education are the most important values.

As you notice, all though all the values I mention are very important to have in and out of prison, I always put God first before anything. You see, to me God is everything. From the moment I wake to the moment I close my eyes when I sleep he is with me. When I’m doing well, He is in my mind. When I’m not doing so well, I feel God close by to take care of me. He helps me think before I speak and he surrounds me with positive people in this negative environment. Thank you Lord!

My relationship with family is also one of my most important values. I call Gabby (my wife), along with our children, Brandon and Prisilla, my triple-A (AAA) energizer batteries. They are the ones who keep me going and going and going and going! Fitness is also very important to me. Although I know that I should put education before fitness, I’m aware that without my health, or should I say fuel for the motor, I can’t continue with my education. To keep myself healthy, I eat many nutritious foods like fruit, vegetables, milk, and bread. I run 45 minutes to keep myself active and I also alternate strength training with pushups, pullups, and dips, depending on the day of the week. With my mind and my body totally fit, I have the energy and focus to study in furtherance of my education.

Continuing with my education is crucial to my success. That’s why I include education among my highest values. I wake each weekday morning at 3:00 a.m. My roommate keeps bothering me, telling me that I need to wake early on the weekends too, but I like to watch movies. I start my days with work on my college assignments. Where there isn’t any college work, I focus on my Straight-A guide workbook. The key to getting away from trouble is improving my educational level. Each evening I read for between 30 and 45 minutes to improve my English. Learning will always be one of highest values.

In summary, I include God, my family, physical fitness, and education as the four values that guide me toward success upon release.

65. How does a person ever become his values?

Many values can help a prisoner work toward walking out of prison as a successful man. Thanks to the values I have acquired during these six year I have now served, I feel stronger and very confident of having a good future waiting for me when I’m released. The values that have help me during my time and that I recommend every prisoner live by include, without a doubt, having faith on God, loving your family, taking care of your body, and never stopping yourself from getting educated.

To me God, family, fitness, and education are the most important values. As you notice, all though all the values I mention are very important to have in and out of prison, I always put God first before anything. You see, to me God is everything. From the moment I wake to the moment I close my eyes when I sleep he is with me. When I’m doing well, He is in my mind. When I’m not doing so well, I feel God close by to take care of me. He helps me think before I speak and he surrounds me with positive people in this negative environment. Thank you Lord!

My relationship with family is also one of my most important values. I call Gabby (my wife), along with our children, Brandon and Prisilla, my triple-A (AAA) energizer batteries. They are the ones who keep me going and going and going and going! Fitness is also very important to me. Although I know that I should put education before fitness, I’m aware that without my health, or should I say fuel for the motor, I can’t continue with my education. To keep myself healthy, I eat many nutritious foods like fruit, vegetables, milk, and bread. I run 45 minutes to keep myself active and I also alternate strength training with pushups, pullups, and dips, depending on the day of the week.

With my mind and my body totally fit, I have the energy and focus to study in furtherance of my education. Continuing with my education is crucial to my success. That’s why I include education among my highest values. I wake each weekday morning at 3:00 a.m. My roommate keeps bothering me, telling me that I need to wake early on the weekends too, but I like to watch movies. I start my days with work on my college assignments. Where there isn’t any college work, I focus on my Straight-A guide workbook. The key to getting away from trouble is improving my educational level. Each evening I read for between 30 and 45 minutes to improve my English. Learning will always be one of highest values.

In summary, I include God, my family, physical fitness, and education as the four values that guide me toward success upon release.

66. How does a person strengthen his integrity?

By practicing good habits every day, then evaluating them. To be great at anything requires practice.

67. What immediate challenges will a prisoner confront the day his prison term expires?

The immediate challenges that a prisoner will confront after his prison term expires is finding employment or in some cases having a place to live in. From what I’ve heard from people who owned a business before their incarceration, there are not many companies out there that would hire any ex-convict even if they were not violent offenders. Finding a job will be a difficult challenge. Having a place to live in is also another big challenge. In many cases prisoners lose everything they had. They lose their home, cars, and sometimes they even end up losing their families, and so they need to find their own place. To me, finding a job and a place to live in are two big challenges waiting for a prisoner the day their prison term expire. That’s why I always encourage other prisoners to get in to programs that will help them after their prison term is over.

How much savings will a prisoner need to accumulate in order to secure the following items:

68. Housing?

It depends in the area the prisoner would like to live in. In my case, I would love to live in Orange County California where most of my family lives, but I know that O.C. is also a place where the living expenses are very high if you want to live in a safe community. A two bedroom Apt. will go up to at least $1500 a month. I think that if I want to live in O.C, I will need about $4500 because I know I would need to give a deposit and I also would like to have secured an extra month in the bank just in case.

69. Household furnishings?

Well, one thing I’m sure of is that I’m tire of sleeping on XS size mattresses so I would probably need a king size bed for my wife and me. I have two kids, so they will need their owned bed too. My family will need a table to eat on, a whole living groom set plus the television, refrigerator to keep are vegetables and fruit fresh, and of course we will also need to pay the electric and phone bills. So I say I will need at least $7,000 to furnish an apartment.

70. Clothing?

I’m not the type of person who would buy expensive clothing, unless it’s a special occasion. For example, I might buy a special outfit for a wedding or for one of my children’s birthdays. Although I don’t know exactly how much I’ll need to spend in order to buy a wardrobe, but I’m estimating that I’ll need about $1,500 to buy the clothes I’ll need to start my life after I’m released. That expenditure will give me what I need to start my life in society.

71. Transportation?

Cars can cost any amount, from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Obviously, in order to start my life in society, I’m going to have to think about a dependable car rather than an expensive or luxurious car. I’m planning on spending about $3,000 to purchase a dependable, economical car. All I want is for the car to transport me to work and home, something safe that will ensure I’m able to finish my work. As I become more stable, I can buy something that suits my interests. But one thing I’ve learned while being in prison for so many years is that I have to think about stability. I have to think about how I’m going to live my life in a way that I can provide for my family. If I get all hung up on expensive cars or fancy rims, or special stereos, I’m going to spend more than I can afford. Insurance will cost more. Gasoline will cost more. And I will have a lot of pressure on me to keep up.

72. Incidentals?

I am not entirely sure how much money I will need for incidentals when I resume my life in society. By then I will have served almost ten full years–unless some type of relief comes.

I’m budgeting that I will need to spend around $200 during the first month after my release. I don’t know whether that is a reasonable sum, but I know that I will need to purchase everything new because I will have been in prison for so long. I suppose I should anticipate that I will need to spend another $50 for incidentals every remaining month.

According to my estimates, then I will need to anticipate spending $750 each year for incidentals.

73. How much in the way of financial resources should a prisoner expect to need in the way of financial resources to transition to society?

I expect that it would be wise to reserve about $16,000 to start a new life with my family once I’m out of prison. A prisoner who doesn’t have the responsibility of a wife and children would need somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000.

The reason I anticipate needing more as a husband and father is that my family has suffered during my lengthy imprisonment. They have had to endure hardship because I wasn’t able to provide any income for them. When I return home, it would not be fair to purchase new things for myself while my wife and children need so much. My wife and children will always come first. I look forward to providing for my wife and children. Once I’ve purchased them all that I can afford and that they need, I will find a way to purchase what I need. But my family comes first.

74. How will prospective landlords, employers, creditors, and others in society respond to an individual who discloses his criminal record(s) and history of imprisonment?

I know that many doors will close in my face upon my return to soceity. It will be difficult for me to find a decent job. I expect that landlords, creditors, and others in society will resist an individual who discloses his criminal history. It’s likely that I will struggle, but the work I’m doing in here should prepare me to overcome. I’m learning a lot of skills by working through the straight- a guide program. The skills I’m developing will qualify me for more opportunities. Perhaps I will turn my imprisonment into a strength by building a business around all that I’ve learned, just as the mentors with whom I work are doing.

Describe the job market in the sectors for which you would like to find employment:

75. What range of income does the market offer?

76. What level of education or experience do candidates for such employment typically have?

The candidate who is willing to teach a class or who would like to become a public speaker will have to develop a good vocabulary. Having a good vocabulary would not only make the person who’s in front of an audience feel more confident, it would also help him convey his message better. Another way to develop speaking skills is by joining groups, like for example, Toast Masters or even practicing his story telling techniques in front of friends.

77. In what ways will a prison record influence possibilities for employment?

A person’s record may influence his possibilities for employment. One factor may be the type of employment the prisoner is interested in finding. In my case, I’m interested in using my prison record as a tool to help people on the outside, or even those inside of prison.

I could help prisoners by teaching what I’ve learned from the Straight-A Guide. Also, I could help people who are going through tough times by assuring them that even though they may feel the struggle in the moment, through hard work they can turn their lives around, creating new opportunities. My personal experience may offer a compelling proof that motivates others to change their lives.

In my case, assuming I’m able to earn a living by teaching others, I think that my prison experience will serve as a strength rather than a weakness. It’s like a credential, or validation. People will understand that I’m speaking from experience. I know how hard it is to overcome the difficulties of imprisonment because I’m doing it. And the record that I build will show others that they can triumph over difficulties, too.

78. Where is the general employment rate in your community?

What I know is that with the crises the U.S. is going through right now, the employment rate is low just about everywhere. I worked in construction in the tile trade for about five years before I got arrested and I recall having worked everywhere. I could be in Las Vegas one or two months laying tile in one of its casinos, and suddenly I would go to California and work for another two or three months at the 29 Palm military base carrying buckets of cement up and down the stairs to one of my partners. From 2,000 to 2,004 I remember there was work everywhere. Today, I call my wife to find out how things are doing in the tile Union and she tells me that many of my friends have not been working for month. Based on what my wife told me, I worry that the unemployment rate must be very high. That’s why I must study hard so that I can open more opportunities I am focusing on improving my education.

79. How would you expect the general employment rate to compare with the unemployment rate for people with your background, considering prison record, educational record, and experience?

The rate is higher for people with a record. We are not allowed to do a lot of things. My friend Justin Paperny told me his licenses were all taken away. The rate must be higher. I must be ready!

80. How much time do you anticipate needing between your release date and securing the job you expect to land?

With this program helping I hope to have a job lined up. I want to write employers and ask them to interview me. Hopefully I have job in the halfway house

81. If halfway house placement requires forfeiture of 25 percent of gross earnings, how much of your monthly take-home pay do you anticipate you will save during the time you’re in the halfway house?

I am not sure. I will save all I can. I have learned to budget in prison, and I hope that helps me in the halfway house.

82. What do statistics show that average households in America earn each year?

$40,000?

83. How do you anticipate your income will compare with that average one year after your release from prison?

It will probably be lower the first year. I must be realistic.

84. What emotions do we introduce when we obsess on issues beyond our ability to influence?

Those emotions get in the way of taking care of business. Michael helped me focus on things only I can control

85. How can we overcome the despair that accompanies imprisonment?

By preparing to come home and be ready

86. What types of behavior lead to such outcomes?

a clear plan, knowing I will be ready to overcome the challenges.

87. How do harsher prison conditions influence an individual’s ability to prepare for success upon release?

working from the shu or higher prison levels makes it harder on me and my family. This is hard enough as it is. I am in a good stop at Taft because I work hard and know my environment,

88. How does behavior that leads to harsher prison conditions influence the lives of those in our support network?

It is hard on my family as it is. Harsher conditions would only make it tougher. I am always thinking them with all decisions.

89. Although the prison system offered ways to lengthen a prison term or aggravate the conditions under which a prisoner served his sentence, what objective mechanisms exist within the system for a prisoner to distinguish himself in a positive way?

I am not sure. Maybe just reaching out to the outside world and prove them we are not what people think of people in prison.

90. How then does the system encourage individuals to work toward reconciling with society, prepare for law-abiding lives upon release, or earn freedom?

Again, not sure. Some want to help, some do not, some do not care. it is on me to prepare to go home.

91 Describe the goals you have set?

More education, staying connected to my wife and children, maintaing my exercise, and reading a lot more books. Getting ready for that interview.

92. Describe how your goals relate to your professed values?

They are in line cause my family and work and health are my highest values.

93. How clearly can you gauge your level of success toward each goal you set?

I write them out and I know if I am getting closer. I measure them, like Michael taught me to do.

94. In what ways does one goal lead to the next?

I feel good when I finish a goal. Then I move onto another one, and another. All of them relate to a good life upon release.

95 If you achieve all of your goals, how will they influence your prison adjustment?

It means the time will be serving me, and not the other way around. It will mean my time away from home and my kids was not a waste of 10 plus years. I miss them, and must hit my goals.

96. How will the goals you set influence your prospects for success upon release?

They are relate to making sure I never come back, and to make sure my kids never have to go through this process. I do not want this for them. My goals get me closer to being able to provide for them, and be there. I can’t wait to go home and see them. I am working hard all day to be ready. I must be ready!!

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