16. Who are you?
I am Marko. I am a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a volleyball player, a Spanish and many more languages speaker. I am a partner, a cousin.
17. Describe your background with regard to your education, vocation or career, troubles with the law.
I finished the veterinary studies in my country and was involved in a Business College (NVCE) in VA prior to my arrest. The circumstances made me fall weak and accept an offer that put me on a journey to prison.
18. What are you going through now?
A lot of emotional stress that is caused by people disappearing from my life. My father died 2 months ago and he was the most important person in my life.
Describe your vision of the best person you can become during the following time frames:
19. Time remaining to serve.
I am going to keep on improving myself the way I have been in the past two years. So I say that I am going to look great, know more languages, have at least two businesses, plans, etc.
20. One month after release.
I am definitely going to be a better son because I will be next to my mother that I have not seen in 5 years and a better brother. They are going to be proud of me.
21. One year after release.
I am a personal trainer and an English language teacher.
22. Five years after release.
Have my own gym with a lot of clients and my own school of language.
23. How do those in society perceive people in prison?
I would say that depends on a person to person. Some see us as trash of society because they do not know better because they believe what they see on the TV or hear on the radio so they believe no prisoner can be good.
24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:
Never as good people, rarely you see somebody who is presented in a good manner so it is not a surprise people will judge us.
25. Compare and contrast your prison adjustment with the prison stereotype.
Just say that I am not a type of a guy who sits and watches the tv all day or plays games. I live to learn and to improve and that is where my time goes to.
26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?
Only in being in between four walls with the rest of them.
27. In what ways is your adjustment different?
Already explained above.
Describe what opportunities for personal growth and development exist in the different prison security levels:
28. High security.
It does not matter where you are at. Prison is what you make out of it. If you stay out of problems and focus on the world on the outside, you are going to be able to improve yourself no matter where you are!!
29. Medium security.
Same as above.
30. Low security.
Same as above.
31. Minimum security.
Same as above.
32. Prior to release, what do prisoners generally say about their prospects for returning?
Most of them swear that they are never going to see prison again but most of them come straight back because they do not do anything to change so they go right back where they left off.
33. In what ways, if any, do those who never return to prison serve their sentences differently from those who do return to prison?
The way I do it! Leave your gangster life behind and focus on the things that matter such as your family!!!
34. What steps can a prisoner take to improve chances of success upon release?
1. Find what could be useful to do upon release! 2. Focus on achieving your goals by learning the things necessary for succeeding. 3. Stay on it!!! Do not just say you are going to change, do something.
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?
Anything over a year for people that realize their mistakes from the get go and over 20 for people that go right back to the old ways.
36. What expectations do those in society have for long-term prisoners?
I do not know why, but whomever I talk to they say that they expect people to go right back.
37. What expectations do you suppose long-term prisoners have for themselves?
To stay out and be successful, rich and enjoy their life.
38. What do prison administrators and staff members expect of long-term prisoners?
39. How would you define a “model inmate”?
For me a model inmate is somebody like Mr. Santos!!! People with ideas and will power to follow them.
40. How does Michael’s prison journey support or refute prison stereotypes?
Not a lot of people are like him. Most of us say but never do, so I guess that is the difference.
41. What role did the prison infrastructure play in influencing Michael’s journey through prison?
It did not help him that is for sure, it made him look at life differently.
42. What vision governed Michael’s decisions as a prisoner?
To become a better man, husband, son to change and correct his mistakes.
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?
On a scale from 1 to 10, I would say 9 because most of my day is dedicated to studying and working. I believe in myself and I know I can do better and stronger.
44. Aspiration: Where do you see yourself at various checkpoints in the future?
As I have said plenty of times to myself and others, I am shooting for the stars, once I finish this and that is why I am going through all of this.
45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?
Work you put in to make the aspiration come to realization.
46. Action: What steps are you taking toward aspiration?
I put at least 4-6 hours a day in different books and 2-3 hours in my workouts.
47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?
By taking daily blogs.
48. Awareness: How knowledgeable are you about the atmospherics around you?
Really good, I know what to avoid in order to have my peace and quiet, in order to study and do more.
49. In what ways do you reach beyond the boundaries that currently confine you?
Spiritual and through email.
50. What do you know about the challenges that will confront you upon release?
I know that is hard but my will to succeed is much greater than those challenges so I know that with the support of people that love me, I am going to be just fine.
51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?
The proof is in the pudding they say so when I start to see the results that is when I celebrate.
52. Appreciation: What role do others have in your success?
I receive emotional help from several people and that is what gives me the energy to keep on going.
53. Where did those choices lead?
To the successful career.
54. What did you value then?
My parents opinion, happiness, love, acceptance.
55. How would you guide your children if they were making choices in the same way?
I would support them.
56. What would you do differently if you could?
Listen more to the people that cared about me instead of chasing after glory!
57. Describe the differences in your life today from the first days of your confinement.
Have I known where I wanted to be in the future, the first day I did not know what had happened and what was to be expected.
58. How have your activities from last week led to your activities for this week?
It is a snowball reaction, once it keeps on rolling it gets bigger and bigger. I follow a routine and all events are connected and played in advance.
59. Identify the values by which you live.
Honesty, hard work, dedication, spirituality, etc.
60. To what extent do your daily activities harmonize with the values by which you live?
If I were not living by my own values, I would have been a hypocrite, so I try to live fully by them.
61. How do your professed values relate to your perceived role in society?
I do not know a lot of people out there that have values like me. I just made a mistake so when society sees that I have changed and that I am a good person, they will except me.
62. Where does your allegiance lie?
63. Are values situational or absolute?
Depends what you make of them. For me they are absolute because that is how I live my life. Here and there you might add something but the same values are always there.