Ray Rowan/ Class 7: Support Networks

by Ray Rowan

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

Over the course of my imprisonment, I have lost contact with associates that I thought were my friends for life.  The only people in my corner now is my immediate family and relationships I’ve developed with other inmates while in prison.  I recognize most of them as family.  I have met some great people throughout my incarceration.  People who I expect to see in society someday.

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

I have an address book that I had to revise over the course of 13 years.  People who leave the prison system that I considered close associates will leave their personal information.  As the years go by, so do they.

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

I’m using some of my contacts to help land opportunities that I could not possible land on my own.  For one, a job can be landed through a support network.  Sometimes it’s about who you know, not what you know.

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

Observe and pick people who have the same aspirations and ambitions as I.   Surround myself with a support group that is striving to be law-abiding citizens.  It’s not difficult to distinguish those who
are preparing to live righteous and those who do nothing to prepare themselves for their release from prison.

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

My prison adjustment started out really rough.  I had the idea that friendship was a sacred bond.  Through all the ups and downs and out of sight out of mind, things would still stay the same.  My so-called ride or die crew kept on riding after my demise.  I had a hard time accepting the fact my
childhood associates had moved on.  The problem was that I had no more money or drugs to give them, so they turned their backs on me.

I’ve seen other prisoners experiencing the same thing.  I started to realize disenfranchising myself
from the outside world preparing me mentally and spiritually to accept and appreciate others that was experiencing the same betrayal as I.  Therefore, other prisoners became my new associates.

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

All of us value the same ambitions.  Get out of prison and be a law-abiding, respectable and responsible citizen.   Someday I would like to be a good father and grandfather.  Serve and obey Gods word.  Everything else is secondary but also relevant in its own way.

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

Over the years I’ve encountered inmates from all over the world.  I looked for guys who wanted to better themselves while incarcerated.  Over time, these same guys stayed under my watchful eye.  If I watch long enough, I could really get an understanding of the persons’ true character.
Over time, no matter how much a person tries to hid their flaws, their true character will show up sooner or later.
From there I can make my assessment if this person is someone I would like to do business with on the outside.  I have developed some solid relationships that should have some rewarding

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

I hope my support network will continue to support my aspirations.  I must continue to strive for success.  I want to show my support network their support is not taken for granted nor is it in vain.

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

My support network keeps a line of communication open for me.  Those that are not in prison anymore, some of them fall off but the one’s that still riding with me, I appreciate them.

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

I’m loyal to a fault with my support network.  My mom always tells me to be careful dealing with the guys I meet in prison.  She’s worried because she seen all the betrayal and let downs I went through.  It’s hard to tell who is genuine.

People can put on a good act until you get in a dire situation, will a person be able to see who is a true friend.
The dynamics of relationships changes when people think you need them.

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

I am hoping that I can build relationships with business people that have not been in trouble with the law.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how to do this from in prison.  When the time comes, I’m sure things will be exciting for the both of us.

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

People with careers influence me the most.  Strong community ties also.  I look forward to being proactive in kids lives who have trouble adjusting to social norms.  I admire those who mentor kids that’s not their own.  I hope someday I can assist charity groups or Big Brother programs.
This would require free time but it can and will be done.

186. Who are they?

Anyone who accepts responsibility and take care of their own family.  Law-abiding and working class people.

187. What interests do they have?

Providing for their families.
Building self-esteem and self-worth through doing the right thing at the end of the day.

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

Just do what I need to do as a law-abiding citizen.  I will not go out of my way trying to influence people or win them over.
People can watch my work ethic and commitment, from there, they can make their own assessment if I’m worthy of them taking a chance on me.  I’ve heard that most people in society really don’t care if a person has been to prison.  I believe those who are concerned are the ones who control businesses and police enforcement who suppose to protect society from people who is criminal-minded.  This is something that I do not need to waste my energy on.  I need to focus on things I can control and worrying about what people think about me is not one of them.

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

My compassion for others has not changed.
I’m still a loyal, honest and respectable person.  Now if you were to scrutinize my work ethic
and business skills, you would say that I have worked hard to improve my knowledge over the years.  I’m referring to the people who know me.

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

This is something that needs to be worked on.  My family has been my spiritual support.  My family is excited about me coming home soon, especially my mother.  She wants to help me get on my feet and see me get married before she passes on to a better place.

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

I’m a meek person and I love quietness.
For some reason, a quiet personality attacts the interest of others.  Inmates see me thinking or meditating and they must make it theirbusiness to find a way to disturb me.  If I see someone sitting quietly or reading something, I do not disturb them.  I keep forgetting everybody don’t think the same.

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

My fellow inmates prepare for their release daily.  As they leave and enter the real world, their
struggles are different.  Some land jobs because of help from relatives.  Some end up turning to hustling again.  Everyone expectations are high but reality creeps in once released of their shackles.

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

I’ve never received one during my incarceration.  Prisoners know first hand that B.O.P. officers write disciplinary reports for anything.  I’ve witnessed the reports written for being out of bounds in another inmates room.  So I don’t see a disciplinary report causing my support network to lose faith in me.

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

This phrase is reciprocal of itself.  I’ve learned to understand to be successful, or a change to seize an opportunity, a person must know something to get them pass go.  Some occupations require more muscle than brain.  It would help to now or posses some skills to land a job that requires a college degree.  General knowledge brings about general labor.

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

I must stay on the same path.  I must continue setting incremental goals for myself.  I have signed up for more classes.  Will these credentials be accepted on the outside?  I know that my serve safe
certification will carry some weight, but my heart is not into restaurant business.  This certification is something to fall back on, just in case.  On a personal note, I study for my own satisfaction first.  If society does not acknowledge my achievements, I’m still proud of myself.

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

From what I’ve heard, law-abiding people do not care to have any dealings with someone with a criminal record.  On a business level we have not changed.  So what steps can we take to get them on board?  Is this something we should not be concerned with?

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

Any job that pays my bills and keep my probation officer satisfied is a blessing.  Less stress and worry if I had employment set up before my release.  More than likely I’ll be going to Memphis halfway house.  From reading The Memphis newspaper, there are jobs for truck drivers.  Traveling from forest city institution to Millington Camp, I seen several signs along the interstate, companies needing drivers.  So my goal now is for me to get my CDLS while I’m in prison.  If not, I’ll get them
when I get out of prison.

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

This is something that controls itself.
I have never anticipated anyone leaving or walking out of my life.  What I can do for myself is continue carving out opportunities for myself, something I can control.

199. How will you hold yourself accountable? 

I must continue to prepare myself for my release because it’s coming.  Why should anyone believe in a person who doesn’t believe in themself and especially a stranger!

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