Phillip Jamison/ Class 8: Relationship Training

by Phillip Jamison

200. What relationship do you have to others in the world?

I have a strong and deep connection to God and Jesus Christ.  I believe in the verse (1 Peter 5:10).  Additionally, I have a strong connection to my country in leading a disciplined, pro-social, law-abiding life.  Next to this, as once a soldier of the United States Armed Forces.  Despite the irrational behavior I demonstrated leading me to earn an incarceration, I still feel a strong connection to the military.  My goal is for my experience through incarceration as well as my history of social rule breaking to reach out beyond these prison walls to active duty service members and veterans.  I want them to understand the adversity that consequently comes through defiance of the military code of conduct as well as the following of criminal behavior.  Above all, I want them to understand the true meaning of the verse (2 Timothy 2:4) “No man serving as a soldier should ever get involved in civilian affairs, he only want’s to please his commanding officer.” But above all, the most important thing in isn’t grandiosity…  it’s your teammates.

201. To what extent do the decisions we make have an influence on the lives of others?

“Courage is not letting our fears influence our actions.”  The greatest compliment one soldier can bestow on another is to call him a teammate.  While flying 10,000 feet above the Earth it’s your teammate who checks your parachute before you jump, who ensures you pull at the right altitude, and it is your teammate who lands beside you in enemy territory.  On the ground and under fire, it is your teammate who watches your back, it is your teammate lays down a base of fire so you can maneuver around the enemy.  And sometimes it is your teammate who lays his life down for yours.  LCPR Anthony C. Melia conveyed what it meant to be a teammate.  When my friend, at the young age of 19, made the decision to lay down his life to protect his teammates, the Marine Corp and his country (John 15:13).  Like a ripple effect, his actions influenced others.  Fathers who were losing their sons to drugs and gangs, through time got their sons back.  Veterans who were losing the battle to drugs and alcoholism slowly got their lives back.  And men who lost focus of their military core values and earned an incarceration “such as I” opened their eyes to the things in life that truly matter.  Things such as God, doing the right thing, honesty, humility, open-mindedness, gratitude, caring, willingness, responsible behavior, faithfulness and love.  With this being said, I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles…  Semper Fi Marine…  God Speed!

202. In what ways does a relationship with God influence the choices we make or behaviors we pursue?

My relationship with God and Jesus Christ has grown stronger then ever before.  My faith in HIM keeps me moving forward one day at a time and helps me to wake up every morning when times are toughest.  HE has also helped me to maintain a positive outlook on my current situation, and look forward to the future.  But above all, I feel that HE is working his good through me to express to others out there that although harsh mistakes are made, they can be rectified.  But first, I had to accept personal responsibility of my actions and work towards learning humility.  Through HIS worship, I’ve learned the true meaning of (Colossians 2:23).

203. In what ways does our relationship to anyone else influence the choices we make or behaviors we pursue?

Since the beginning of my incarceration.  I made the decision to focus my energy on only surrounding myself with positive peers.  Through this, it has helped me to keep out of conflict with others and protect my life and health.  Additionally, it’s allowed me to learn new things through the expertise of others.  This has influenced me in becoming a much better person, which in the end follows me back into the community.  The secret to success is where energy flows, attention goes.

204. If everyone in society made decisions from the same code of personal values that we embrace, how would the world advance or decline for future generations, including our children?

Social distortion arises through actions that cognate through irrational thoughts and beliefs.  A value, like a seed planted into the human brain, cultivated through time becomes a cognition (negative self-talk) to the human mind.  For instance, if I was raised by a parent who practiced criminal behavior, such as drug sells and violence and was continuously in and out of prison.  As a child, this would be a condition I grew up around.  As I mature into a teenager and begin to encounter peers who associate with drugs, violence and gangs.  That condition becomes a cognition.  Example: A young teen offers me drugs to sell.  My negative self-talk is “my parents sold drugs and made money this way, so I can do it too!”  Therefore I’d suffer the same adversity as they did when I finally earn an incarceration.  When adults around the world practice criminal behavior and result in earning an incarceration.  Once the media gets a hold of it for the world to see.  This influences the young minds of others around the world and can damage area’s in society.

205. To what extent do your choices and behaviors match the choices and behaviors you would want your children or people you love to see and emulate?

I strongly believe that the vision of my children’s future must be built on the values of their past.  If I made the poor irrational decision to continue demonstrating criminal behavior or expressing a grandiose attitude in the presence of my children.  My behavior now becomes a condition to them and later a cognition.  This is known as the “Linear Effect”.  However, if I practice and commit myself in living by my core values and distinguishing myself to be a positive member of society.  My children will absorb like a sponge the knowledge I possess and values in which I follow.

206. What does it mean to you to live with integrity?

To me, to live with integrity means to adhere to the positive values I’ve created.  If I remain consistent and persistent in living my life in accordance to my values.  This will help me to keep my freedom, prevent me from conflict and protect my life and health.  Aside from that, by consistently conveying myself as a man of value, in the end success will follow.  My values are highly important to me as well as creating clearly defined goals and bringing those goals to reality.  Through my own imagination I chose to set the limitation.  I also chose to remain aggressive in achieving my goals.  Imagination x Vividness = Reality.

207. What does it mean to you to serve a prison sentence or to confront adversity with dignity?

To confront adversity with dignity means to not let fear influence my actions.  It means to stand up for what I believe in and to follow the values I’ve created to overcome adversity.  It also means to step far out of my comfort zone if need be and do the thing I think I cannot do.  It also means to face, and not evade, every fresh crisis that comes…

208. In what ways do your relationships with other prisoners influence your possibility for success upon release?

Using the Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Assessment technique comes in handy in a lot of ways.  Whether it’s a new goal I wish to adhere to or even an activity I would like to partake in doing.  Where it has benefited me most in is the selecting of prison peers I wish to affiliate with.  If I choose poorly and affiliate with peers who practice irrational behavior like gang violence, smuggling in illegal contraband or gambling.  I could one day find myself earning an incident report or even time in the SHU.  But most of all, this will hinder my ability to have a successful transition back into the community, for I’ll achieve nothing for it.  On the contrary, if I surround myself with positive peers who follow strong values and goals.  This will have a strong influence on my life through prison and my future beyond imprisonment.

209. How do your relationships with other prisoners influence the way that prison staff members assess you?

Negative peers + myself = bad attention!  Affiliating with people who consistently follow criminal behavior and lack self-discipline and integrity only leads to gaining unwanted attention from staff and rival gangs.  Like the saying “birds of a feather flock together.”  The people I surround myself with will only result me getting looked upon like one of them.  “If he’s hanging around a joker, than he must be a joker.  So I want to make it a value to avoid negative people and only affiliate with positive pro-social peers who adhere to their own values.

210. In what ways will your relationships with other prisoners influence the probation officer who supervises your release?

I understand that every decision I make has consequences that could effect my future.  With this being said, hanging around individuals who are disciplined, responsible and express humility will allow me to flow through incarceration more smoothly.  We can help support one another in meeting our goals and obligations as well as keep each other out of trouble.  By hanging around people who will be positive influences to my life.  I can gain the support I need to start planning for my future.  Additionally, I can work towards increasing my personal growth and furthering my education.  Next to that, I won’t receive any unwanted incident reports through the prison which can follow me back out into the community.  This will result in my P.O. having a more guardedly optimistic outlook towards my release.

211. What efforts are you making today to influence the relationships you will have in the months and years to come?

One thing I started doing long ago was building a support network of positive pro-social peers.  Many of these peers have followed my progress through the Michael Santos Website.  They’ve observed my unyielding perseverance and indomitable spirit in rising above my poor decisions with courage and dignity.  At the same time, they’ve watched me grow and mature into a greater modeled citizen.  Furthermore, they’ve witnessed me advance forward with humility and poise.  I have made it a valued goal only to build my life around positive people.  For this reason, I anticipate the success of my transition will be gained with ease and less stagnation.

212. In what ways can you influence relationships with people beyond prison boundaries while you’re incarcerated?

“Actions speak louder than words.”  With this said, as I’ve documented my progress through emails, letters and MGS website.  I’ve allowed others to glance into my life and observe my journey through confinement like an open book.  I believe through my discipline and deep devoted fortitude.  Conquering imprisonment by adhering to values, will influence others in an inspiring way.  It’s my ambition to express to others that a man can rectify his past actions.  This can be done through a process of re-education through values and clearly defined goals and intestinal fortitude.  Accomplishing this task can be achieved despite the overwhelming obstacles that lie ahead.  Aside from that, I also believe that when a man commits a criminal act.  The way to regain respect from society and respect for himself is to take responsibility of his own actions.  For this reason, I will influence others by confronting imprisonment with dignity, only facing my fears with bravery.  But only after I’ve granted myself with amnesty.

213. How would maintaining relationships with people who embrace criminal values influence your potential for success upon release?

I live my life in accordance to ethical principles.  For this reason, I do not create relationships with individuals who embrace criminal values.  Peers of this nature will strongly impede my ability to gain the essential needs necessary to meet my short and long-term goals.  In prison, “I am the people I affiliate with.”  If I valued relationships with individuals who follow criminal behavior.  My undesirable consequences could constitute in receiving a disciplinary infraction or time in the Special Housing Unit.  This will obstruct my ability to acquire the necessities needed to work towards building my future.  Ergo, I choose my peers wisely.

214. In what ways do grooming and personal appearance influence your relationship with others?

Chance favors the prepared mind, body and spirit.  I’m saying this because practicing proper presentational skills displays assertiveness.  While following strong grooming standards demonstrates self-discipline and personal value.  Prospective employers, Probation Officers and society take notice of this.  Next to that, this will favor my chances for success upon release.  I will continue to practice and commit myself in preparing for success.

215. How do writing skills influence the potential for opening new relationships that may lead to success upon release?

I believe that possessing good writing skills can broaden my opportunity for a successful transition.  The ability to write with detail can bring my idea’s to life.  Comprehension in general is an essential skill to have for people to receive a better understanding of the message I’m delivering.  This gives me the ability to exchange idea’s and meet goals.  Above all, this will allow me to build a stronger support network.  For this reason, I still continue to further my writing capabilities and sharpen my skills.

216. In what ways are you working now to nurture relationships that may help you succeed upon release?

I nurture my relationships by sticking to my values.  I made it a promise and commitment to others and myself to follow through with my goals and aspirations.  I still continue to connect with people through writing and make it a point to always express gratitude to them for supporting me.  But most of all, despite the dishonest behavior I displayed before imprisonment.  Through this experience I’ve learned to live with integrity, for the one thing I’ve given and still keep… is my word.

217. What influence will your relationships with others have on your possibility for success upon release?

Building strong relationships has kept me emotionally grounded through this journey.  It has helped me to keep out of high risk situations that may impede my progress in working towards the person I aspire to become.  I’ve learned a number of different things by being amongst the people I’ve chosen to affiliate with.  In addition, the relationships I’ve built beyond the prison boundaries has helped me to reach my achievements, for they’ve supported me financially, emotionally and have assisted me in growing my support network.  These relationships will deeply influence my success beyond imprisonment, for they’ve aided me in progressing towards personal growth and positive change.

218. How would prospective mentors respond if they were to hear you attribute your predicament to the choices or actions of another?

I believe prospective mentors will strongly value the dedicated aggressive action I’ve displayed.  they’ll take notice of my compassion to achieve my goals and that I am a man of purpose and poise.  Furthermore, they’ll see that I’ve succeeded in turning what was a living nightmare into a beautiful dream, which started as a vision.  And as I’ve exposed my achievements and unyielding perseverance through my course of action.  This will impact the minds, hearts and lives of many others.  For this reason, to influence the hearts of others comes from the flower of wisdom; but it’s seed is action.

219. In what ways does the blaming of outside forces strengthen or weaken your potential for success upon release?

Blaming outside forces is damaging to the mind and spirit.  It expresses a lack of integrity, dishonesty and a corrupt will.  When I blame, I’m finding fault in others and not taking personal responsibility for my own actions when bad things occur.  When I blame, I’m holding others accountable, but not myself.  Worst of all, when I blame I’m not owning up to my own behavior.  People don’t respect the blamer.  This poisons relationships with others, but destroys the relationship with myself more than anything.  However, when I begin accepting personal responsibility of the consequences of my actions.  Then also realize that life is not fair and that unfairness is not a justification for criminal behavior.  The process of reconciliation – with myself and others begin to emerge.  Holding myself accountable for my own life, is the source from which self-respect springs.  I must take personal responsibility.  I can’t change the circumstances, but I can change myself.  That’s something I have control of.  “The truth set me free.”

220. How do your relationships with others influence the people closest to you?

The choices I make and actions I display will always influence the lives of those closets to me.  If I chose to affiliate with negative peers who conduct criminal behavior, resulting in disciplinary action.  This effects them, for I’ll lose contact with them for a substantial amount of time.  Furthermore, if my actions constitute in me needing to relocate to another institution, this effects their lives as well.  This creates worry, heartache, concern and stress.  Above all, this obstructs my ability to change into a better person, let alone take care of business.  Therefore, stretching far and beyond imprisonment, strongly stagnating my future and than some.  In spite of the many possibilities that may occur if I followed negative peers.  I’ve chosen to only build relationships with people who follow positive values, ethics and good behavior.  This gives those close to me a sense of peace and serenity knowing that I’m safe and secure.  Additionally, by following good behavior and adhering to my goals and working toward positive personal growth.  This cultivates the relationships with those close to me, resulting in bringing them closer…

221. To what extent does living with transparency, or as an open book, influence relationships?

Living with transparency gives others a comprehensive look into my life.  This allows them to witness my steady uprising through imprisonment.  Through living a life built on values and ethical strength through a time of hardship.  This will influence my relationships and strengthen them along the way.

222. How would behaving one way with one group of people and another way with others strengthen or weaken your potential for success upon release?

Demonstrating one behavior in the presence of one group and expressing another behavior amongst a different peer group displays a lack of honesty.  It is a form of manipulation and conveys the absence of integrity in a man.  He’d be manipulating how other peers see him by distorting the truth to get them to think what he wants them to think.  People will see him to be a deceitful person, which in the end destroys relationships.  I have dedicated my time in conveying myself to as an honest authentic person, even in the midst of imprisonment.  By practicing and committing myself in a microcosm community such as the program I’m in (RDAP) or in prison.  This has helped me to build positive, honest peers in the process.  This is a behavior that will follow me into society.


Phillip Jamison/ Class 9: Financial Literacy

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