Larry Parks/ Class One: Values

by Larry Parks

16. Who are you?

First and for most… “I AM” a Christian. “I AM” a man that took the blessing that God had gave me for garnet. “I AM” a husband to the most beautiful woman God has created and father of four beautiful blessings in the for of three girls and one boy. “I AM” a man that is determined to take this time of incarceration … reevaluate myself… realign myself with God… be the best father and husband that I can be and be a blessing to others. “I AM” ready to do what is needed of me to assure success in the future. “I AM” not afraid of what people think of me or say about me because I know that God has forgiven me and “I AM” a new creation. ” I AM” looking forward and not looking back. ” I AM” more than a conqueror through Christ how strengthens me!!!

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

I graduated from high school and went to a 2 year community college to take Commercial Arts/ Advertising and design. I only did a year and a half then dropped out. I fell in love and stopped going to classes. I left home on bad terms with my mother and father and moved in with my girlfriend (now my wife). I’ve had numerous good jobs. I’ve worked as a corrections officer for 7 years. I’ve been a machine operator for 2 years, and I have been a forklift operator in cold food warehouse for a year. I also went back to school for a year and took graphic arts/animation but left because my wife could not handle the bills on herself.  As far as trouble with the law I only had speeding tickets and failure to appear in court. This is my first trouble.

18. What are you going through now?

I’m going through a season of pain and suffering. My marriage is on the rocks… I miss my kids… I would like to get my staff dinning job back… I stressing a lot about things that I can’t control.

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

19. Time remaining to serve.

I can strive to be more Christ like. To be more of the man, father, and husband that God put me on earth to be.

20. One month after release.

I would like to be established in a successful business. I would like to be working in the food industry.

21. One year after release.

I would like to be stable, with my wife, and spreading the word of God to others.

22. Five years after release.

Continuing to spread the word of God and helping others.

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

They think that we are all bad, evil, sick, twisted minded people who deserve to be locked up.

24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:

They depict us as sneaky, conniving, ruff, cursing people.

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

Being that I have worked as a prison guard for six years, I knew what to expect and how to carry myself. But I still had a hard time with adjusting to “Living” in prison. I have humbled myself a lot to not thinking of myself as better than the next man.

26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?

I knew about the rules, regulations, and polices of the prison system.

27. In what ways is your adjustment different?

I did not know about the cruel and unusual things inmates go through daily.

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

28. High security.

I worked a High security prison… there were on educational programs. They only had “AA” and “Drug” classes.

29. Medium security.

You have college courses and personal development programs.

30. Low security.

This is were I am now. There are college courses, personal development programs, Physical health programs, and on-line classes.

31. Minimum security.

Probably the same as low and you can get a job working in the public.

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

Most inmates talk of returning to do the same old things that got them locked up to start of with. For some of them, this is all they know or all they care about.

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

Those who never return used there time in a positive way. They educated themselves… developed a plain for the future… they changed there way of thinking on how to make money or be successful… and they learned from there mistakes.

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

By educating themselves… coming up with a plain for a successful future… getting there spiritual foundation strong… and change there of thinking from what they use to do to what they need to do.

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?

10 years or more

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

Nine times out of ten they expect long-term to fail in what ever they do in prison and when they are released.

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

Most feel like there is no hope for success in there life after being released… I know I do!!!

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

Most expect to have trouble with them because of their long-term imprisonment.

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

One that abides by all rules and regulations, spends his or her time wisely, helps others, accepts responsibility for his or her actions that got them lock-up, changes there ways and way of thinking(in a positive way), and has a positive out-look on life knowing that things will work out for them if they just work hard and believe.

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?

I am trying daily to do things and learn things that I can use fore the future. I commit daily to reading Gods word and meditation and prayer. I commit daily to thinking positive in spite of me being in prison; away from my wife, children and family. I commit daily to being a Christian in my actions, deeds and conversation. I commit daily that everything I do today is preparation for tomorrow.

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

First of all, my future is not what I want… but what God want for me. So to know my future… I must know who I am in Christ… that guides me in my present to my future despite my sinful past. I see myself as a light that shines in the darkness of prison. By Gods grace I make it through daily. I see myself coming out prison sooner than what man says… going back into society with a greater purpose… ready to serve and help others… being a better father, husband, man, all around human than what I was before I came to prison.

45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?

Aspiration is what drives you and pushes you toward your goals. Fantasy is an unrealistic hope or dream that is selfish and not goal oriented.

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

Praying,fasting,reading Gods word daily. Learning different skills and educating myself.

47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?

I measure progress daily by my ability to cope with imprisonment and my ability to look toward the future and not dwell on the past.

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

That is one of the main reasons why I keep to myself because of the bad atmosphere of prison. I do not evolve myself in anything that will stunt my growth spiritually, physically, and mentally.

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

I continue to be a father to my children… a supportive husband to my wife… and a positive person… even to those who treat me bad. I’m also taking this Straight-A-Guide program with aspirations for a bigger, brighter more prosperous future.

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

I know because of the nature of my crime people will be hesitant to trust me…  let alone hire me. i know just because of me being in prison people will stereotype me as a waste of time, no good, a liar, a cheat, a thief… the low end of society.

51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?

At the end of each day. After I say my prayers and reflect back on the day, I look at the progress that I made in that day and celebrate the success of making through the struggles, stress, trails and tribulations of that day.

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

My Christian brothers here, my family and close friends help me cope daily through conversations, prayer, Godly advise, and encouraging me to me a better man today than I was yesterday.

53. Where did those choices lead?

In the 9th grade I had aspiration on being an artist so I was concentrating on taking art classes. As a result I became a very good artist and helped design the high school motto.

54. What did you value then?

Art. I loved drawing by hand and on computer.

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

I would encourage(and do encourage) them to go after there dreams and make them a reality. Even though I’m not there I still give them support through conversation on the phone and through letters.

56. What would you do differently if you could?

I would first give my life back to Christ and would have diligently seek him at an early age. I would have finished college and furthered my art. I would have been a dedicated father and husband.

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

My very first day that I was locked up I was mad at the world for not giving me a chance to change. But now I realize that God allowed me to get lock up so I can be “Set Free.” I’m set free from the way I use to think, the way I use to act , the way I use to be.

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

Last week was a rough week because it was the week of my birthday and that whole week I missed my wife and kids more daily. But I got through it by prayer, reading Gods word, and keeping myself busy (in a positive way).

59. Identify the values by which you live.

My spirituality is the upmost importance to me. So daily prayer, scripture and spending time with God is a must. Then caring myself in a manner that demands respect and also gives respect to everyone. I live one day at a time.

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

By keeping the faith, and being a humble man, I am able to cope with imprisonment. My daily activities keep me grounded and keeps me striving for a better tomorrow.

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

I feel that if society would confess there sins and declare Jesus as there savior and Lord, the world would be at peace. People would see the good in people despite their short comings. They would give people hope and support and not discouragement and disabandonment. Instead of gratifying punishment for doing wrong they would be more concerned with finding a solution and helping.

62. Where does your allegiance lie?

In God.

63. Are values situational or absolute?

Values to me are absolute. They are absolute in preparation of the future. They are absolute in going on in my day to day routine. They are absolute in developing my spirituality. They are absolute in how I lead and guide my wife and children. They are absolute for my survival.

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