Kalani Lautele/ Class 1: Values

by Kalani Lautele

16. Who are you?

My name is Kalani Lautele.  I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Although Hawaii is known for its beautiful sceneries, my scenery was not always beautiful.  I grew up in a poverty neighborhood known as Kam IV Housing.  Majority of the families who occupy these two story concrete buildings are low income earners or receive financial assistance from the state.

I am the only child to a single mother.  I never met or knew my father.  With gangs, alcohol, and drugs being a common sight around the neighborhood, it was easy getting into trouble.  Luckily, I started playing basketball in the fifth grade.  I was less involve with the typical thug life I seen everyday.

Playing basketball was the first time I set a goal for myself.  My dream was to play in the NBA.  By high school I became an all around athlete. With the popularity came the girls and the parties.  I always looked forward to drinking with my friends on the weekends.  Soon, I began to drink any time of the day on any day of the week.

After barely graduating from high school, I found a job at an auto and tire shop.  I was always a hard worker.  It could explain why I was rehired after being fired twice.  The reason for my terminations was my attendance.  I was drinking everyday.  Showing up to work late or calling in sick.

I was 20 years old when Nikki Kuresa gave birth to our daughter Shalia and two years later to our twin sons La’ziel and K’ziel.  Being a family man at a young age, I had to get my self together.

One day while playing football, I tore my ACL on my left knee.  As a result I called in sick for work but because of a miscommunication and a bad history with attendance, my employer terminated me for the third time.

In 2007, it was difficult finding a job.  I couldn’t get a labor job because of my knee injury and I couldn’t get a skilled job because my educational background did not qualify.  With no job, I resorted to what I seen growing up.  I began to sell drugs as a means to support my family.  My desperation and exuberant money flow from selling drugs had blinded me to reality.  I had plans to start a business, buy a house, send my children to private school and give the woman who trusted in me a dream wedding.  But I guess the Man above had better plans for me and a better approach to my plans.

Since my incarceration, I thought about my whole life.  I thought about every bad decision I’ve made and what would have been a wiser alternative.  I thought how could I be a better person to the ones I love, society, and most of all my children.  As I reflected on my past, I realized some important pieces was missing in my life.  I thought I valued my family, being a good spouse, providing right for my family, and God.  But my approach to these values was all wrong.  Most importantly, I didn’t have the dedication needed to be true to these values.

Life for me has always been a live and learn situation.  Prison is a place that I will use to my advantage.  I will capitalize on past mistakes.  I believe I have found the missing pieces in my life through my incarceration.  My values now consist of having dedication, my children, my family, physical fitness, a growing education, faith in God, humility, and honest people. I will live by these values now, tomorrow, and forever more.
“Every negative situation presents an opportunity to gain something very positive”  Robert Greene

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

My highest level of education is a high school diploma.  Career wise, I’ve been in the automotive industry, off and on, for five years.  I worked at an auto and tire shop as a gas attendant then worked my way to being a tire changer then an alignment technician.  Prior to my incarceration, I have been arrested for DUI and driving with no insurance.  My traffic violations is the only history I have with the law.

18. What are you going through now?

Physically, I’m rehabbing my right knee.  I tore my right patella ligament on June 2011 playing basketball and had reconstructive surgery in Sept. this year.  I should be fully recovered by summer next year.  I am also waiting designation to another facility to participate in the 500 hr drug program.  Completion of this program earns me up to a year off my sentence.  With this years holiday season going on, all I can think about are my children.  I miss them so much.  They are my world.  They are the reason why I will come out on top from prison.

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

19. Time remaining to serve.

With less then 19 months to serve, I will continue to practice the traits I developed since my incarceration.  They are having dedication, ties with my children, physical fitness, spiritual growth, humility, and being open minded.

20. One month after release.

I have a few employers in mind who I like to work for.  But being only a month out of prison, any job will do.  Hopefully a job with opportunities to grow and the hourly pay or salary will be decent enough to help me get a home after my stay at the half way house (residential re-entry program).  I will also spend every chance I can with my children because living rules at the half way house limits the visitation with family and friends.

21. One year after release.

With a year of liberty following my release from prison, I will be looking to enroll at a college.  If my job at the time is one I enjoy, I will take courses to help me advance and be the best in my field of work.  When I’m not working, I’ll be hanging out with my children, enjoying being a father and a part of their lives again.

22. Five years after release.

I will have bought a second home and use my first home as a rental property.  I will have a diversified financial portfolio in place.  One of my few business plans will be up and running.  I’m continuing to be the best father I can be to my children.  I would want more children if I have not already added to the family tree in the past five years.

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

I feel society perceive prisoners as what they see in movies and TV. shows.

24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:

These shows and movies depict prisoners as violent people who only have three things in mind.  That is money, power, and respect.

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

26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?

27. In what ways is your adjustment different?

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.

Of the two prisons I’ve been incarcerated at, the only opportunities for personal growth and development were the free time allowed before and after work.  With the free time, I educate my self with books on subjects that interest me and that will help me obtain my goals.  I would work out and contact my children.  The only educational programs I know of in prison is the GED class.  Any other type of education has to be on your own.

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

I usually hear “I’m never coming back to prison”.

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

I believe those who are more likely to never return to prison has a sense of direction in life.  They knew during their incarceration what they wanted to do upon release.  The majority in prison always has a plan.  But what separates these people is some take action while others just talk about it.  Those who take action usually serve their sentence educating themselves to reach goals and execute their plans.

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

1.  Have a plan.

2.  Be dedicated to the plan.

3.  Education.  Begin with knowing the basics well, then study in the direction of your goals or plans.

4.  Utilize your time and resources.

5.  Check yourself.  Assure yourself, from time to time, you are following all the steps.

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?

Some people would consider two weeks or more as long-term imprisonment.  I feel any kind of time that confines a person from the public and their family is long-term imprisonment.

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

I really wouldn’t know society’s expectations for long-term prisoners.

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

I suppose some long-term prisoners would expect some difficulty transitioning back into society given that they’re labeled ex-convicts.

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

Prison administrators and staff members would probably expect a long term prisoner to likely return to prison if they can’t transition to society as a law abiding citizen.

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

A “model inmate” from what I’ve observed, is one who always want to please prison staff members.

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?

It just inspired him to work harder, despite their efforts to stop him.e

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

The vision to be educated and prepared to live a law abiding life successfully.

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?

My level of commitment is fairly high.  When I began my sentence, I watched a lot of TV and played any sport to pass time when I’m not studying.  Now, I only watch UFC fights, which last about an hour and exercise for an hour everyday.  There is so much I want to learn and I feel I don’t have enough time in a day to cover it all.  But I’ve been told many times by men who succeeded in their profession “success is a marathon, not a sprint”.

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

I see myself working at home as a successful day or swing trader.  I would have a few rental properties, apartment complexes, to provide some passive income.  Traveling with my family will be a frequent and favorite hobby.  My non-profit organization will help children living in high crime or poor neighborhoods, who love sports, reach their potential as a student athlete. Being I once walked in their shoe, I know the challenges they face to be a student athlete with the limited opportunities and support available to them in their situation.  I hope to help kids chase that dream of being a professional athlete and to utilize their talent to get them into college.  Most importantly to teach them that being an athlete is temporary and having a good education will take them far in life.  Everyday I see myself becoming one or all of the above in the future.

45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?

It’s not a fantasy to take action towards aspirations.

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

I prioritize my time to studying.  I set weekly goals to achieve so it brings me a step closer to my goals for the near and far future.

47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?

Every Sunday I write what I want to accomplish for that week.  When I’ve completed a task, I cross it out.  If a task goes incomplete, I carry it to next Sundays list as a priority.

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

I’m pretty aware of my surroundings.  My studies keep me occupied most of the day so I don’t ever have to contend for a spot to watch TV or to have a table of my own, which tend to cause conflict among people.

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

Reading the IBD, Wall Street Journal papers and nonfiction books are ways I try to reach beyond my boundaries of confinement.

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

I’ve heard from other inmates, who returned to prison on a probation violation, finding employment as a convicted felon was their biggest challenge upon release.  Finding a place to live was the next challenge.

51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?

Each time I achieve a goal, short term or long term, I embrace the feeling of accomplishment. Using that feeling as momentum to take on the next set of goals.

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

I’ve been bless to have met a few men, who’s also incarcerated, become a mentor or big brother to me.  Their knowledge, experience, and guidance has broaden and add clarity to how I will approach my goals.  My children plays the biggest role in my climb to success.  Without them, I would have no drive to strive for success.

53. Where did those choices lead?

Those choices lead to a new positive outlook on life.

54. What did you value then?

Based on what I enjoyed and did everyday before my arrest, I must say I valued drinking alcohol.

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

I think the experience of being a broken family will better guide their decisions in life.

56. What would you do differently if you could?

I would have taken my education serious.

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

A lot has changed in my life today since the first days of my confinement.  I feel so much more healthier and wiser.  I’ve built such an appetite for knowledge that my options upon release seems one hundred times bigger than when I began serving my sentence.

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

Last week I started my job as a unit orderly.  I start 7:30 am and finish 8:30 am.  So this week I created a workout and study schedule around my work hour.

59. Identify the values by which you live.

The values I strive to live by are family, dedication, spirituality, humility, physical fitness, and wisdom.

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

I feel my daily activities harmonize 100% with my values.

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

I hope my role in society will inspire and encourage people.  Especially those who can relate to my hardships growing up or those who are currently in the struggle.  I want them to know that with a plan, action, dedication, being humble, and God as a part of their daily values, just as I, can overcome any adversity.

62. Where does your allegiance lie?

My allegiance is to my children, Shalia, La’ziel, and K’ziel.  Their love and faith has pulled me through the darkest days of my life.  I owe it to them to be the best I can be.  They are truly the greatest blessings God has given me.

63. Are values situational or absolute?

Values are absolute.  It’s a compass to how you live life.  What kind of life?  Well it depends on what you value in life.

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