James Rick Hunt: “If you were 16 again what you would do differently.”

by James Hunt

January 21, 2012

Running an inside/outside re-entry program has its advantages. As executive director of MGSF, besides training federal prisoners in more than a dozen prisons across the country, I work in juvenile halls, and alternative education schools. In my workshops I frequently share the lessons learned from long-term prisoners. Last week through the prisoner email system, I asked a MGSF participant, Rick Hunt, what he would differently if he was 16 again. His response follows:

“It may sound crazy, but I would think about what it is that I want out of life. Ask the question, and when answered, go deeper. I have the benefit of looking back at my thinking, compared to what I know now. At 16, I was sitting in jail preparing for a 2nd degree murder trial after just recently been released from juvenile boot camp for first offenders. My mental state was, lost, afraid, alone, misunderstood, angry and all of that hid behind a act of being indifferent and a posture of tough and hardened to life.

I would ask what I want our of life, which would  have aided me to be more confident and have a clearer sense of direction. Admit I did not know it all, listen to the mistakes of others, so I would learn to not have to pay the price of the lesson given for free.

So, at 16 I would have asked: What is it I really want out of life?¬† I could have had it all the right way. I wasn’t willing to put in the work. I wish I could do it over, but here I still sit in prison.

To all the 16 year olds I ask: Are you willing to put in the work? If I spoke to much, forgive me. The bottom line is, think through all you do, and try to see the end picture and not just the good and fun parts. And nothing worth having is easy. I do not care what your friends or other people say. To make it you must work, work, work, honestly.”


Forrest City Low, Forrest City, Arkansas

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