Manuel Chavez/ Class 1: Values

by Manuel Chavez

16. Who are you?

This moment in time and the things to overcome, “I am a very humble man of the man that I once was. Today, I am “sober.” I am more intelligent than I was years ago. I am looking for the “job of my dreams”. Today I am looking to gain your help and knowledge in getting my profile and workbook in order, so that an employer will recognize me out of the crowd and realize that I am the one for the job. I’m convinced that all I need to do is apply and go to work.

I believe that with your help and a good profile I will be reason to speculate that all prisoners are not ‘BAD’ people. I have worked hard to get where I am today. Today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In 1998, all I could see was doom. I finally hit the bottom of the bottom. I still have a few issues such as “Trust” and “True love” “Friends”.

I AM an inventor who has successfully gained a utility patent for my efforts. This did not come cheaply. I put many hours of work into it and thousands of dollars. I am seeking business partners thru a third party who has power of attorney. This is some what difficult because of the lack of communication or the introduction letters being unanswered, knowing full well that the companies we have wrote to have received our letters.

I sent the last note about my son working in Pennsylvania  and the “grapevine story”, well the story goes as this… We’re from the 4 corners area of the US and it has a very big oil/gas field and lots of work there depending on the company. Well he’s in Pennsylvania and they sent an oil well expert to teach them about well control and safety procedures and my son asked this person if he ever heard of a blowout preventer that fits inside the casing in the well bore and he said, “yes, I seen one being made recently in a machine shop in Farminton, NM.” Craig said, ” Does it work like a packer with a plunger in it?” “Yes, it does.” “Well, my daddy has had a patent on that since 2008.” The proffessor then changed the subject and wouldn’t talk no more about it.  Since then, all I have found out is that this fellow was from San Juan College and probably a petroleum engineer with a degree in order to teach this technology. Well, I still haven’t found out his name or the company that is working on this tool.  I just know that I’m very happy even though a company is building this without my permission. You see, I have read many books on the patent laws and procedures and how to make money with our ideas, one bit of advice is to let them continue to build and test it. That type of research and development would be impossible for me to get done while doing time, not only that, this is the ultimate compliment!! I already might have a business partner that has done all the hard work for me!! All that needs to take place is to make a ‘sweetheart deal’. And, that’s the rest of the story, thus far.

Amazing, if u ask me!! Only in America!!! So, it’s just waiting to find out more at this time.

Back to who I am? I’m a man dedicated to saving precious resources and improving oil/gas well safety through the innovation of new tools and procedures that will make the oceans and lands that produce oil and gas safer for all of mankind. Just watch me!! I believe that u can’t stop a man that has a goal, just like Mike Santos, and I respect that.

It’s about time that I can finally get the positive exposure that I have diligently prayed for. Like I said, “all in its due time”.

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

When I was 17, I wanted desperately to go to the Air Force. I had 4 yrs. ROTC and @ graduation a recruiter guaranteed me that I would become an Officer as soon as I got to the Academy in Colo. Springs, Colo. I knew then that my dream of becoming a mech. engineer would be closer to a reality. But. sadly my father talked me out of it. Years later, he admitted that he should have sent me to college instead of investing in my younger brother who blew it in college. I said, “Don’t even go there”.  My dad and I were very close, I was fortunate to have a dad such as him. It’s just that when I started drinking at an early age, (12) I was on my way to becoming a “Pickle”.  In 1990 new years night, I shot and killed a man that I sort of knew thru a neighbor. To make a long story short, my wife and I split up, over now what I can see as my abuse toward her and or advice from her mother who never did like me. Neway she testified against me in my murder trial and I got a 14 yr. sentence with a 7 yr. departure. I got out in 1996, two weeks after my father died. That was so sad for me and still is. In 1998 July 13, I physically assaulted my girlfriend and I almost killed her. This was on the reservation and the judge and prosecutor had no mercy on me. During my 2 yrs. in the County jail, I picked up ANOTHER case!!! This one by a professional snitch that was working for the government, a confidential informant who worked with another prisoner to get me to commit a crime with the telephone against a witness, you can almost guess who……. my ex wife!!! I could have taken it to trial but with the jury picked and in front of me, I opted for the plea bargain of 20 yrs.!!! It was that or Life in prison if convicted and  I could just see already what was going to happen. Of course I appealed and lost and thought that the ‘Booker law would work in my favor, but in the 10th District the judges don’t recognize “Booker” as law!!!! What a joke!! I was going ‘nuts’. fighting all the time and angry with the system, until one day, I finally, finally, reached out to God, and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. It wasn’t to long after that he blessed me with the idea that I now have patented and he still continues to bless me. In Jesus’ name I pray, that this is what I have been finally looking for, that will complete my work and journey thru the system, and get me back out there working on the rigs where I BELONG.

18. What are you going through now?

Anxiety of being in the real world. Anxious to be with my family and to be working again in the oilfields.

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

19. Time remaining to serve.

Biting my tongue, resisting to participate in other peoples ‘happy talk ‘ (gossip), ‘who did this’ , ‘who did that’ etc.

20. One month after release.

Still sober, no alcohol or drugs. Working with tools again.

21. One year after release.

Still sober, still working, still working out daily with free weights and martial arts lessons.

22. Five years after release.

Still sober, still working and should a means to have my own business by then.

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

Of course, prisoners are labeled as ‘losers’. I want to be an exception to that name. I am sharp-minded and confident that I can meet any challenge mentally or physically.

24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:

Bad-asses’ and ‘losers’ who know nothing but crime.

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

Over the first 10 yrs. was the hardest the 2nd go around. I’m a two time loser with 27 of my life behind bars. I’ve adjusted when after years of frustration of why do ‘they do this?’ I asked a guard at USP Marion and he leveled with me and after that day it made sense to me and then I made an adjustment in my attitude towards authority. His truthful answer has helped me tenfold. Simply put, the system is  always testing you to ‘adjust your attitude’. Talk back and you get a disciplinary transfer and lose good time, really raise hell and they give you the ‘diesel therapy” Moving you all over the country on a bus, sleeping in county jails for a year or so.

26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?

I’ve learned to bite my tongue, and to find a better way to deal with any confrontation without violence. Yoga, exercising and praying (I’m a born again Christian), I’ve used my common sense and have carved out a niche with my artist abilities. I still regret being yelled at for no reason.

27. In what ways is your adjustment different?

I learned to meditate and to let it pass, to think it over before I react to a situation.

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

28. High security.

Hardly any because of the violence and lockdowns because of stabbings and riots. Always on guard 24/7.

29. Medium security.

Somewhat better education and jobs are available $200.00 or so a month.

30. Low security.

Really laid back, and the stress level is almost gone. You have time to get your ‘ducks in a row’ You can do it.

31. Minimum security.

Jobs in town, good food, and almost freedom.

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

They say: “Not me, you’ll never see me again, I’m not gonna fuck up.” Most do and come back.

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 honestly don’t know. I suppose that they have a good form of support or are very focused on their goals.

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

Be honest with yourself and find out what you want to become and then study hard on the subject. I, myself, want to go back to the oilfield as a tool pusher or consultant until I build up enough money to open a welding business with my son. I am studying math everyday and using formulas to figure out volumes, displacement for cement jobs and the different jobs t hat occur in the oil well drilling business.

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?

Life is long term, it means the rest of your life in the Federal system!! That is a long time. Anything after 30 yrs. is a long time.

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

I’m hoping they have enough expectation or speculation, to give a man like me another chance to prove himself as an asset to the community. That he can do the job that he is hired for.

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

The usual, to get back on their feet and to contribute to society.

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

That they are ‘adjusted’ and can use calm words and to be trusted.

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

A busy man who minds his own business and has a good plan to do good.

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

He has seen it all, like me. I’ve heard all the stories etc. I even know the ones who won’t make it and the ones who will return back to prison again.

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

I think after reading his books he is ‘fed up’ with the treatment of inmates.

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

His love for his wife and his ability to keep striving to keep his sanity.

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 have a good attitude that I am a successful inventor, (all from within prison), and that the field of my invention and its many uses is going to be very useful to preserve the natural resources, save precious lives, and help the petroleum industry throughout the world do so safely. The ‘Deep Sea Horizon” Macondo well blowout didn’t have to happen. I designed this invention for just this purpose. I already knew that this would eventually happen and it will happen “again” and “again” until the industry or the environmentalists or the environmental laws make it mandatory that the oil/gas industry uses my invention to stop this from happening. Will somebody finally ‘”listen to me?” I pray they will. They will have to, one day soon.

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

Doing well and living close to my family.

45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?

Fantasy is all talk and no work. Aspiration, this takes dedication to actually research your goals and to list what you need to get it done.

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

Math classes, Algebra classes, any class that can better me for the job at hand. I also just finished an HVAC class this past 2 months.

47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?

With the classes I finish and the math that I learn.

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

Very aware of them. Especially the inmates. I trust no one in prison. And that is sad. But, it’s a reality. I believe that if they don’t put money on your books they have no right to be in your business, period.

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

By inventing more ideas and reading textbooks. I quit reading fiction novels and would rather study math or a foreign language.

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

I know that transportation and vehicle insurance is a must. I have to get a job either drilling on toolpushing or welding pipelines.

51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?

After each day and or a job that’s well done.

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

Support by family and monetary support to get me started.

53. Where did those choices lead?

I was drawn to the popular crowd and one day we went to a friend’s house and drank ‘boiler-makers’ on and empty stomach. I passed out @ school and got suspended. That lead later to more drinking and partying with older boys. I am an alcoholic and was out of control and never realized it until I was locked up in 1991.

54. What did you value then?

My freedom, my beer and my vehicles.

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

I would and do use me as an example and so far it has worked to keep them from abusing drugs and alcohol. I try to call them weekly or on a daily basis if I feel the need to counsel them. NEWS FLASH   I just learned 2 days ago that my son was fighting with his wife and he rolled his truck total loss and when I finally got a hold of him he is in Wyoming and I finally got the truth out of him and I got upset on the phone with him. U see his job is in Pennsylvania. I know that this is pertanent to the workbook but I just can’t ignore this about him. My mind has been elsewhere. I was wrong for that.

56. What would you do differently if you could?

I would have never drank to get drunk. EVERYTIME I drank I got drunk. I can’t handle any booze or anyone who drinks. I can’t stand it. I don’t like it at all.

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

Today, I have a goal (to enter my invention in the market) even if it takes me until I am released from prison. In the first 5 years of prison i was totally lost in despair. I AM GOING TO BE AN ASSET TO THE COMMUNITY.

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

My math classes leading up to this final week (8 weeks total) Also, my exercise regime.

59. Identify the values by which you live.

I value family. It is all I really have, and my health. I am in touch weekly with someone in my family, and I am always making crafts for their enjoyment. I workout every other day and I am going to increase my endurance even more. Because the type of work I like will require it.

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

I train my body physically and mentally each day to better myself. I want to be a better person when I emerge from prison.  With a goal such as I have, it is always on my mind to better myself in every way.

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

I want to prove to people that you can become successful even after going to prison. you have to step up to keep up to make up for lost time whenever possible.

62. Where does your allegiance lie?

With family.

63. Are values situational or absolute?

Absolute. I have morals and after living this long, I am a very good judge of character. With good values I can overcome any situation.



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