Phillip Jamison/ Class 7: Support Networks

by Phillip Jamison

174. In what ways do you perceive relationships with people you knew prior to confinement to evolve over the course of your imprisonment?

Prior to confinement, I nursed a multitude of different relationships from family, to friends, to myself and with God.  The relationship I felt within myself was poor and resentful, for I despised who I was based on the fact that I did not succeed in achieving my dream in becoming Navy SEAL.  This is why I chose to turn to my drug of choice “Anabolic Steroids” as a method in gaining a stronger sense of self-worth.  Even as a young soldier my belief in God was there, but yet wasn’t authentic.  In many ways I appeared to be righteous to men, but inside I was full of lawlessness and hypocrisy (Matt 23:28).  But, around the beginning of my incarceration, the feeling of defeat brought me to my knees, for I was tired of feeling like a failure at life.  When I finally expressed a level of willingness and humility and said the words “Dear God, I have a problem and that problem is me.”  This was the day I began gaining a strong sense of self-worth.  The willingness to accept responsibility for my own life was the source from which self-respect began to spring.  Everyday I prayed and everyday I read a passage from the bible.  Through time, my passion for God grew more fonder than I ever imagined.  This gave me the inner strength and intestinal fortitude to triumph through this harsh dilemma I was facing in my life.  From this point on, I made it a goal to only make valued based decisions factored around my faith in God throughout my daily living as well as documenting my progress transparently on the Internet.  Through this process I perceive that my actions will reach out beyond the prison boundaries to my family and friends and allow my relationships to evolve into a powerful caring support network.  The LORD has shown me that after I have suffered for a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness, who brought me to his everlasting glory in union with Christ will himself finish my training, HE will make me firm, HE will make me strong (1 Peter 5:10).

175. In what ways have you nurtured support networks during the time you’ve served thus far?

Living transparently through the Internet has helped me to foster relationships with individuals within my support network.  This is granting them the ability see the divine effort I convey towards becoming a man of value and integrity.  Additionally, I nurture my relationships by expressing gratitude and appreciation through letters or postcards.  The attitude of gratitude conveys the sign of a noble soul.  I give thanks for everything positive that happens to me, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than my current situation.  But the most powerful quality I can demonstrate is authenticity in my appreciation.  I want to live and breathe the positive moral values I manifest.  Alignment of the head, mouth, heart and the feet, while thinking, saying, and doing the same thing consistently, is what it means to be an authentic human being.

176. In what ways will the support network you have in place now contribute to your success upon release?

By cultivating and nurturing relationships with the individuals in my support network.  I anticipate they’ll express a strong level of care and willingness toward assisting me in having a successful transition back into the community.  In addition, my support network will act like a “safety net” that I can fall back onto for support if I feel at risk to a drug relapse.   Leaving prison can be just like walking a high wire in the circus.  Having a strong safety net full of positive people will give me a stronger sense of confidence and hope I’ll need to succeed.  Furthermore, I will feel more secure in my recovery with the knowledge knowing that there are others out there who want to see me succeed.  With this being said, the importance of establishing positive pro-social members of society could dictate the success or failure of my recovery from incarceration.

177. In what ways would you build a strong support network while you climbed through years of imprisonment?

As I climb through the harsh times of confinement, it is my goal to continuously build my support network as well as the existing relationships within it.  The one word that plays the strongest factor in building stronger relationships is “Authenticity”.  I want to stay true to my values and maintain my bearing.  The simplest infraction can stagnate my relationships and cause people to lose hope and trust in me.  But as the days creep on by and the weeks fly by, I want to constantly look into building my network.  I have used individuals in my network to pass on the knowledge of my foundation URL page to others, which allows them to get to know me transparently through the Internet.  But I also send out letters to friends, mentors and employers.  The letters I send must express a high level of humility and accountability for my actions.  I want to own my actions and believe in my cause!  I additionally want to express gratitude for simply allowing me to be a friend in their life or a protégé beside them, or an employee underneath them once before.  This will convey a man of penitence and noble character within myself and makes them feel appreciated.

178. In what ways do support networks or the lack of support networks influence prison adjustments?

Like a house broken dog getting dropped into a forest to fend for itself.  The struggle in adjusting to the harsh environment can create fear, disorientation and anxiety.  In the prison system, these paralyzing feelings could strongly impede my ability to successfully establish the strong emotional foundation I’ll need to succeed.  Furthermore, this will hinder my ability to gain the the essential means necessary that will influence my adjustment to the change I’m facing as well as planning for my future beyond incarceration.  On the long and windy road through imprisonment, completing the journey alone or with an inadequate support network will decrease my chances in rising above the obstacles faced as a prisoner.  Ultimately, this will increase the possibilities of facing a downward relapse in my criminal thinking patterns, therefore leading me back to prison after my release.

Resourcefulness: “Having the ability to find clever ways to overcome difficulties. Remember you will not always win. Some days, the most resourceful individual will taste defeat. But there is, in this case, always tomorrow – after you have done your best to achieve success today.”

179. To what extent are the values that those in your support network embrace harmonious with the values you profess to embrace?

Every individual in my support network is free of drug addition and is an honest law-abiding citizen.  Each person adheres to positive moral values and possess a strong educational background.  It would be of extreme importance only to involve myself with individuals of this nature.  For this reason, individuals who lack these qualities are opened to experiencing problems with the law.  Surrounding myself with negative peers of this nature contradicts the values and beliefs I adhere to, which can cause greater issues for me in the future.  Through prison I could earn disciplinary infractions, or time in the Special Housing Unit.  In the community I can get arrested and earn another incarceration.  By neglecting to consider the actual ramifications by associating with peers who embrace poor values will heavily impact my chances on achieving any success.

180. What steps are you taking now to build or nurture your support network?

My relationships have to be cultivated through my values.  I want to live congruent to the values I manifest and all of my choices through prison have to factor around these values.  I have sent letter’s, emails, connected through telephone to cultivate and nurse my relationships.  I also live transparently through the Internet.  But ultimately allowing my values to pilot my way through prison has allowed my relationships to grow stronger.   Furthermore, I’ve created relationships with people beyond the prison walls that I’ve never known prior to my incarceration.  If a flower is to grow beautiful, it must be cultivated!

181. In what ways can those in your support network facilitate your aspirations?

The greatest willingness my support network can bestow is show me the emotional encouragement I need to stay strong and triumph.  They can express care for my needs and concerns and understand the purpose behind my uprising.   “Try to help others. Consult their weaknesses, relieve their maladies; strive to raise them up, and by so doing you will most effectually raise yourself up also.”  –Joseph Barber Lightfoot

182. In what ways is your support network helping you now?

My support network has expressed an immeasurable level of care and willingness to help me overcome my incarceration.  On many occasions they’ve assisted me financially by depositing money into my prison account.  They also willingly inform others of my Straight-A-Guide webpage, which allows me to cultivate a bond and relationship with them – expanding my network.  Aside from this, people in my network send me up to date pictures of my children “and there’s no greater way to build the morale of a parent in prison than to bless him with photos of their kids.”  But above all, my support network helps me to stay focused on the bright light at the end of the tunnel and persevere through my times of stress and discomfort that come with daily prison life.

183. What level of allegiance do you pledge to your support network?

I am committed in honoring my obligations for myself as well as the individuals in my support network.  I proudly express my unyielding gratitude in many ways possible.  But two of the greatest pledges I can bestow is to express authenticity in my values through my actions.  Plus,  continuing to drive forward one day at a time toward achieving my goals through valued based decisions.  This shows that I’m taking ownership and responsibility of my actions and moving in a positive direction.

184. What incremental action steps can you to take to bring people you do not currently know into your life?

In order to expand the possibilities of achieving a successful transition back into society.  I want to look into bringing new individuals into my network.  Small incremental action steps I’ve taken to invite new people into my network is sending invitational letters regarding my Straight-A-Guide webpage.

185. What thoughts do you have about people who would be most influential to your possibilities for success upon release?

“Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success.” –Henry Ford.

The individuals in my support network help me to feel encouraged, safe and accepted.  I think highly of them and appreciate the level of care, willingness and humility they express to me that helps me stay strong through life’s challenges as a prisoner.  They influence me to stay confident and motivated on the many tasks I have faced and the many tasks I’ll soon be facing.

186. Who are they?

The individuals with in my support network are honest, ambitious members of society.  They are defined by the values in which they follow.  And continue to live their lives in accordance to the principles of good conduct.  These are the people I choose to surround myself with.  The conjugation with these individuals will allow me to absorb their knowledge and positive  energy.  In time, this will support and benefit me in becoming a better person.  “Where energy flows, attention goes.”

187. What interests do they have?

The interests they have are to lead meaningful, respectful, and productive lives.  Literally everyone of them in some form or another has overcome a time of adversity and persevered through it.  Additionally, they believe in the faith of God, just as I do.  They also believe that things in life, such as my situations will only make me a much stronger human being.  Another unique interest they have is the on going process of creating and achieving new goals throughout daily life.  Last but not least, they believe in expressing empathy for others, because everyone we meet is fighting some kind of a battle in some form or another.

188. How can you make them aware of your aspirations?

I make them aware of my aspirations by posting blogs on my MGS page.  I’ll also send them updates on my current situation via email or letters.  This has given me a sense of serenity and pleasure, knowing others out there can look into my life and witness me overcome imprisonment, through positive valued behavior.  Through my actions, persistence and perseverance.  If I can help one person facing an upcoming incarceration overcome and rise above their own adversity or even prevent someone from earning an incarceration.  Then, to me…  THAT IT’S SELF IS A BLESSING…  “In life, what sometimes appears to be the end is really a beginning.”

189. What impression would your adjustment through prison thus far make upon them?

My adjustment through incarceration would give them the impression that I’ve held myself accountable and took responsibility for my actions.  Additionally they will come to see that I’ve taken the time to examine the irrationality of my criminal behavior and progressed forward in rectifying my past actions.  Furthermore, they’ll get the inspired impression that I’m inspired to leave prison a stronger, more resilient, positive pro-social person, than how I came in and let go of who I once was.  “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

190. In what ways are you working to cultivate mentors?

“A real leader has no need to lead-he is content to point the way.”  A mentor I’ve cultivated through time and look up to since the start of my imprisonment is the chairman of the M.G.S.F. Mr. Justin Paperny.  He has supported me in having a safe and successful journey through incarceration.  He’s updated my M.G.S. webpage and in the past he’s helped me to stay motivated and keyed in to the situation I’m currently in.  Although we’ve only communicated through email.  I feel a sense of comradeship for him, for he’s helping me through a harsh period of my life as well as walking a path he once walked.  In addition, through his actions and willingness he’s led me into a direction of positive change and self-discovery just by pointing the way.

191. In what ways does your behavior or activities within prison boundaries influence your relationships?

Since the day I began my imprisonment..  I made the choice to follow values based on the foundation of discipline and commitment.  If I am consistent and persistent on leading a life of good morals and positive behavior.  This will strengthen relationships with family members and positive peers.  I anticipate an increased level of respect and encouragement through time by following good behavior and executing my actions based on rational thoughts and values.  I also need to understand the value of an investment decision, for it may effect my short and long-term goals.  With this being said, my success depends on the quality of my thoughts.

192. How would you assess the preparations and commitment your closest acquaintances make to a law-abiding, successful life upon release?

The prison environment is surrounded by individuals who manipulate, steal, lie and practice instrumental aggression to get what they want.  If I made the decision to surround myself amongst individuals of this nature.  It could create a ripple effect of undesirable consequences.  I could draw the unwanted attention of more negative peers and/or Correctional Officer’s.  Later leading me to earning incident reports or time in the Special Housing Unit.  Therefore resulting in time lost, worried family members and failure on achieving anything positive for my future.  With this being said, the assessment on individuals I choose to associate with are based on the values they follow.  They must lead meaningful responsible lives and demonstrate a strong level of discipline and behavior.  They also need to be working a program of personal change, veering towards leading a balanced pro-social lifestyle beyond prison.

193. If you were to receive a disciplinary infraction, in what way would that influence the support network you’re striving to cultivate?

A disciplinary infraction would strongly impede my ability to move forward in achieving my goals.This would stagnate the plans I’ve created on leading a law-abiding lifestyle beyond incarceration.  Most of all, this creates worry and emotional discomfort for individuals in my support network.  Receiving an infraction demonstrates a lack of willingness and responsibility to myself and my future requirements for success.  Moreover, it displays a lack of care for the people supporting me through imprisonment.  All in all, this is a criminal thinking error known as “Cut-offs” where I’d be ignoring responsible action, eliminating sensitivity to consequences.  I can counter measures this by remembering that every decision I make has consequences, along with recognizing that life has frustrations and accepting the need to work through them…

194. What relevance does the phrase “It’s not what you know but who you know” have to you?

The phrase “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is a belief I’ve followed since the beginning of my incarceration.  What this means to me is, although I may be educated, goal oriented, disciplined and follow values.  None of this would be meaningful if I made the irrational choice to surround myself with negative peers.  On the contrary, if I interact with individuals who follow positive values and responsible behavior.  This will allow me to absorb their knowledge as well as allow new opportunities to arise.  In addition, when I cultivate and extend my support network beyond the prison walls.  This gives me a greater advantage on receiving the essential needs required to achieve future goals.  Ergo, granting me a greater chance on having a more successful transition back into the community.

195. To what extent would your actions show that you’re conscious of the influence others have on your prospects for success upon release?

Since the beginning of my incarceration, up to now.  Individuals have come to notice the profound level of commitment I’ve demonstrated in following my values.  They’ve watched me mature and foster my development in becoming my values.  Additionally they’ve seen me continue to progress further in my recovery here at R.D.A.P.  In my heart and through my devoted actions.  I want to demonstrate to other fathers, mothers, sisters and bothers who are faced with a loved one in incarceration as well as military veterans out there who are facing an imprisonment themselves.  That mistakes we make do not dictate who we are.  It’s where we draw the line and start holding ourselves accountable and come to rectify our mistakes is what defines our true character.  Above all, when facing the adversity of a mistake.  To be mature means to face, no evade, every fresh crisis that comes.  Furthermore, when you finally rectify your behavior, you can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice…

196. How can a prisoner open more opportunities to broaden his network of support?

There are a variety of different methods a prisoner can use to broaden their network of support.  One I’ve utilized are my existing support members, who’ve willingly reached out to other supportive family members, healthy peers and skilled help.  In my case, I would request contact information via email and/or mailing address.  Additionally, I’d direct them to my M.G.S. webpage to obtain knowledge on my current situation- allowing them to get a visual look at what I’ve accomplished through my imprisonment.  A secondary method I’ve used is creating healthy relationships with positive prison peers.  As I’ve progressed forward one day at a time.  I’ve created relationships with professional writers, lawyers, pro-athletes, movie producers and more.  Each individual has assisted and supported me in one form or another.  A situation I’ve been enduring since the beginning of my incarceration was the unexpected serving of divorce papers.  An issue of this magnitude could cause a prisoner to lose complete focus of his values.  This could lead to greater undesirable consequences.  Additionally, while trapped in the midst of prison, and not understanding how to address the issue adds to the stress.  But, through good assertive communication skills, I’ve built a relationship with a 25 year veteran of divorce law.  Ergo I was able to address this issue diligently.

197. How would your transition to society change if you had a job offer in place before your release?

Seeking and securing employment after serving a prison sentencing is challenging on it’s own.  Through little or no success, this can be like paddling a boat upstream “I’m not getting anywhere”, later exhausting the mind.  Aside from securing a job to meet my survival needs.  It’s mandatory for me to have a job to handle supervision requirements.  Although this may be true, successfully securing employment prior to release builds a sense of relief and security.  Above all, I’ll have faith in my ability to take care of business.  This relieves a lot of stress and helps me to have a successful transition back into the community.

198. What steps will you begin taking now to broaden, nurture, and protect your support network each week that you remain in prison?

I will consistently and persistently commit myself to living by my core values.  Additionally, I’ll continue navigating my way through imprisonment only leading meaningful, productive and responsible behavior.  Furthermore, I will continue to express gratitude to the people in my support network/safety net who have supported me through my incarceration.  Gratitude is the simplest form of a positive attitude.

199. How will you hold yourself accountable?

I’ll hold myself accountable by continuing to broaden my support network.  I will also work to strengthen my knowledge and education as well as documenting my progress one week at a time.  In addition, I’ll commit myself to updating various individuals in my support network the progress and accomplishments I’ve made.  Furthermore, I’ll continue adding additional updated blogs on my M.G.S. page allowing the world to see my steady improvement in becoming a positive pro-social member to society.


Phillip Jamison/ Class 8: Relationship Training

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