Joseph Stefanini/ Class 1: Values

by Joseph Stefanini

16. Who are you? 17. Describe your background with regard to your education, vocation or career, troubles with the law.

My name is Joseph Stefanini. I was born in Altoona Pennsylvania in 1965. I attended school in Hollidaysburg Pa. and dropped out in the 10th grade. I enlisted in the U.S. Army and did not get too far with that as I had a problem with discipline. Falling into drugs and street life I soon ended up in prison for 3 years. Upon release I got my life somewhat together and moved to Tennessee. I applied myself to learning auto mechanics and with the help of an associate soon became quite proficient. as the days turned to years I applied myself to being trustworthy and dependable and above all brutally honest in all transactions and life. But again. drugs and a dissatisfaction encroached and I fell into the use of methamphetamines. Leaving the business and my life I spiraled into the wanton life of an addict, and soon needed money. the rest is history. I robbed a bank and confessed in court to the same. while on my run as a criminal. I was arrested in Florida on Oct 24 2003 in Panama City and was soon charged with robbery and murder in the State of Alabama. After accepting a plea bargain in Alabama for Attempted robbery (nor Murder), I served 8.5 years and made parole 5-2011 to begin my 130 month sentence for the bank robbery.

18. What are you going through now?

I am now 13 months into this sentence here. But since my incarceration in 2003, I have endeavored to dedicate myself to the lord Jesus Christ. I have lived in a faith based unit while in the A.D.O.C. the whole time there and dedicated myself to helping others.  This consisted of orientating younger men who had just arrived in prison, it also involved being in the hospice Dignity Care program where we voluntarily sat with other prisoners who had a terminal illness and had declined further treatment. This was a very sobering experience yet allowed me to share others pains and heartaches and be a friend during their final moments. we are not given tomorrow  for certain, and therefore each day I spend now not in front of a TV or listening to a radio but trying to help others see that life is so rich and how it is so futile to waste in prison. I have 9 years left and have not given a lot of thought about what will happen upon my release but I guess it’s time to start.

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

19. Time remaining to serve.

20. One month after release.

21. One year after release.

22. Five years after release.

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

24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:

I believe society is both correct and mislead when it comes to their perceptions. correct in the sense that their fears and concerns are justified when a person emerges from prison and has been further corrupted by the process called “corrections.” The term corrections is misleading when used in conjunction with the prison system in general for it gives the hearer the idea that prisoners are actually counseled or given guidance in correction in their attitudes and world views. So when one emerges from the corridors of confinement, and then re-offends committing the same crimes or worse, than all societies worries become substantial and condemning. While I do not watch much TV or movies (I do not wish to be trapped by the “one-eyed baby-sitter”) much of what society views on TV carries a persuasion, Either p[positive or negative, Depending on  1) The producers intended goal and perception and, 2) the viewers perceptions of the program based on preconceived ideologies. While jailhouse religion is much criticized, I have embraced the teachings of Jesus Christ and the scriptures and allowed the Holy Spirit to mold my life to the Word Of God. I have been a Christian for 8 1/2 solid years, lived in a faith based dorm for 6 of those years, Jesus Christ ins my Lord and I His duolos.

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

I have been confined since Oct. 2003, almost 9 years and will be confined until Sept. 2021 and have deliberately chosen a path different than others.

26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?

We are all treated the same no matter what we do.

27. In what ways is your adjustment different?

My adjustment to prison has been to be dependable to the words I speak and the promises I make. I choose to be reliable and dependable at work even if it is for 18 or 19 cents per hour. I choose to be a blessing to those around me, to not condemn but to uplift and edify. I choose to not be a part of that which would destroy my witness for Jesus Christ. I choose to educate myself through programs of biblical courses. I choose to be the one who enables another to become a better person through my faults and experiences.  There have been so many faces come and go during this prison journey, only to come and go again. I choose to not be like this. I have sat with men who have chosen not to accept treatment for a terminal illness, yet who embraced each day as fully as possible. I have sat a silent vigil holding a mans hand as he silently transcends this life. I have shared the gospel with those still alive, prepared meals, and listened as they recounted their life stories. Hospice (in the Alabama DOC,or anywhere) is both demanding, and rewarding. I have learned that life lived for self is not life at all. to live is to live in service of others. I was not always this way, in fact, was quite the opposite. Jesus Christ and prison has changed my life, giving me the moments to reflect and review many of my life decision and choices. I choose now to make a difference, not only by planning but also by decisions based on a life of service.

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

28. High security.

29. Medium security.

30. Low security.

31. Minimum security.

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

33. In what ways, if any, do those who never return to prison serve their sentences differently from those who do return to prison?

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?

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

47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?

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

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

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

51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?

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

53. Where did those choices lead?

54. What did you value then?

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

56. What would you do differently if you could?

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

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

59. Identify the values by which you live.

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

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

62. Where does your allegiance lie?

63. Are values situational or absolute?


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