Sergio Estrada/ Class 1: Values

by Sergio Estrada

16. Who are you?

My name is Sergio Rene Estrada Rodriguez. I play different roles in society as a son, a father, brother and willing to be a good husband.  I became a U.S. naturalized citizen in May 2005 after having been a legal resident since 2000.

Today, I can describe myself as a man who lives according his beliefs, working very hard every single day to prove to myself, my family and society that I earn an opportunity.

I am a son of God who received forgiveness and an opportunity to learn from the bad decisions I made in the past. In addition, I am convinced that the only way to make a pivotal change in my life is by the renewing of my mind.

Because my actual lifetyle has a service commitment rather than a self-centered perspective, I have been using this time in prison to persevere in knowledge, spirituality, and human relationships to be capable of being a positive influence to my brothers in prision and my children.

Moreover, I realized that every word I say and every action I take, has a consequence in society. This reason echoed in my consience in each thought that crosses my mind and every action I take every day.

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

Fui Arrestado por los agentes de el ICE en la frontera Mexicali- Calexico el 5 de Noviembre del 2009 y fui llevado a la prision de el Condado de el Valle Imperial para comenzar el proceso legal en mi contra.

En 37 anos de vida, la unica relacion que tuve con el infringimiento de la la ley fue a traves de alguna historia policiaca en la prensa local de el pueblo donde me forme como padre de familia y como foto-periodista, exitosamente reconocido por los medios de comunicacion de la comunidad y por la Asociacion de prensa (AP) de los Estados Unidos.

Desde nino, mis padres me inculcaron a respetar las leyes , la propiedad ajena y a todo ser humano, por consecuencia a estas bases me converti en un ciudadano modelo en base a la educacion que me nutrio desde el seno familiar.

Con respecto a mi educacion academica, mostre especial interes en la tecnologia y enfoque mis estudios medios superiores en el ramo de la computacion, cursando la carrera de Tecnico en Informatica en CETyS Universidad (Centro de Ensenanza Tecnica y Superior) durante 1993 a 1995 continuando con Programador de Sistemas en Red y Diseno Grafico en CCCM (Centro de Capacitacion en Computacion de Mexicali), ambas escuelas reconocidas instituciones de la Ciudad de Mexicali, B.C., Mexico.

Estos fueron los estudios que me apoyaron en mi trayecto como fotografo; oficio en el que descubria una gran pasion escondida al estar detras de el lente de una camara Nikon y comenzar este oficio en los inicios de la era de la fotografia digital y la organizacion de archivos de prensa.

En el tiempo que he pasado en prision me ha sido dificil el invertir tiempo en estudios academicos puesto que la mayor parte de mi tiempo la pase peleando mi caso en la detencion de la institucion GEO en el condado de San Diego en donde no existia alguna clase de soporte academico. Pero tome la decision de no perder mi tiempo y lo inverti en la lectura de grandes obras literarias que me ayudaran con mi crecimiento, emocional y espiritual.

Principalmente el estudio de la palabra de Dios (la Biblia), la cual recibe el credito total por la edificacion de un nuevo hombre que renacio de entre las cenizas en una celda de prision y que le brindo la esperanza y el animo de levantarse con la frente en alto y comenzar a “vivir” y no solo a sobrevivir..

Cientos de libros llenos de conocimiento y sabiduria me han ayudado a formarme como Hombre, como hijo y como Padre y he absorbido de estos libros una pasion mas a mi existir; el arte de “Escribir”.

Entre mis proyectos en vias de desarrollos esta el libro que estoy escribiendo.

Este libro relata mi experiencia personal en prision y como  en este lapso de tiempo Dios me revelo el proposito de mi existir en este mundo y por lo cual debo luchar y esforzarme dia con dia para cumplirlo. A la vez es una invitacion a nuevos reclusos  para considerar un patron distinto de comportamiento y transformar el concepto de “matar el tiempo” dentro de prision a “Invertir el tiempo” y estar libre de ataduras dentro de prision.

18. What are you going through now?

EL dia de hoy, estoy pasando por una codena de 51 meses, acusado de transportar e intoducir drogas a los E.U. y he pasdo por largos e aparentemente interminables tiempos de soledad en el proceso, pues he querido mantener a mis seres queridos lejos de este problema pensando en su seguridad ya que toda mi vida permaneci ignorante a ese asunto del narcotrafico hasta unos meses anted de ingresar a la prision.

Pero todo esto me a llevado hasta el limite, hasta el fondo de un pozo profundo y oscuro en donde la unica salida esta arriba, y en medio de la oscuridad solamente he tenido que buscar la luz y hacer lo porsible para alcanzarla.

Mi mente fue el arma mas peligrosa que tube en mis manos y al estar esta tan fuera de control se convertia en un arma letal para mi y para los que me rodeaban pero el dia de hoy en medio de esta pesadilla he aprendido a controlar mi mente y he decubierto que tengo un poder ilimitado en mis manos.

He aprendido de el consejo de Dios y de las personas que ha puesto a mi alrededor (entre ellas Michael G. Santos) que lo unico que puede ayudar a mi futuro en forma positiva y edificante son las Pensamientos, las Acciones y las Desciciones que forman parte de mi diario vivir en el presente.

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

19. Time remaining to serve.

During the time that I have to serve I will use all my strength to reach my goals and live in accordance with my thoughts and words until these positive habits seem to be like the air that I breathe.

As a man of God I commit to allow God to develop His love in me.

I commit to develop a healthy and robust relationship with my family and community.

I will learn and develop my reading, spaking and writing skils in English and Spanish.

I will accopmplish a high quality art project every 15 days.

Durante el tiempo que me quede por cumplir dentro de prision, usare toda mi capacidad para alcanzar las metas que me he trazado y por vivir una vida con integridad hasta que los nuevos habitos adquiridos se vuelvan tan nescesarios para mi existencia tal y como lo es el aire que respiro.

Como un hombre de Dios me comprometo a poner todo de mi parte para que Dios desarrolle Su divino amor en mi persona.

Me comprometo tambien a desarrollar una saludable relacion con mi familia y mi comunidad cualquiera que esta sea en el momento y lugar en el que me encuentre.

Aprendere y desarrollare mis conocimientos y habilidades para comunicarme en los idiomas Ingles y Espanol en base a la escritura, lectura y comunicacion verbal.

Ademas, acompletare al menos un proyecto artistico de alta calidad cada quince dias.

20. One month after release.

Because I served 50% of my time in a detention center (GEO) where there are not jobs or academic programs, I did not have the opportunity to save financial resources for my transition into society my first month out.

This made me reflect about the importance of being well prepared to look for a job and be hired as soon as possible.

I have confidence in God and I know, as a fact, that He will provide all my needs.

I will spend most of my time working with the purpose of purchasing the essentials, such as a vehicle, clothes and books to continue my self education.

I will meet probation officers who will set the conditions of my release, and set a plan to guide me through the next year.

En base a que vivi la mitad de mi tiempo en una institucion (GEA) la cual es una detencion de el condado de San Diego en California en la cual no existen programas laborales o academicos, no tuve la oportunidad de ahorrar dinero para usar durante el primer mes de mi transicion a la sociedad.

Por esta causa y analizando mi situacion real, me di a la tarea de prepararme mejor haciendo uso de cualquier recurso que tuviera a la mano tal cual son los libros que muchos de los presos abandonan en los estantes de la libreria, los cuales me han servido para aprender y prepararme mejor y asi tener la oportunidad de conseguir un empleo lo mas pronto posible.

tengo plena confianza en que Dios proveera todas mis necesidades, tal y como me lo ha demostrado en todo este tiempo dentro de prision.

Invertire la mayor parte del tiempo trabajando con el proposito de poder adquirir lo esencial, tal y como son un vehiculo para transportarme en la ciudad de San Diego, California, ropa y libros que me ayuden a continuar con mis estudios.

Me reunire con los oficiales de probacion quienes me informaran acerca de las condiciones de mi liberacion y trabajare en el planeamiento que me guiara durante los primeros 365 dias en el mundo real.
21. One year after release.

One year after my release, I expect that I will earn the trust of my probation officer based on my responsible behavior as well as my transparent lifestyle.

I will be providing for my childrens basic needs.  Moreover, I will be stablished a solid relationship with all of them.

I will contact a publisher as I will be finished my first book “Hombres de Dios”

I expect to have authorization to cross the border to visit my parents and the woman that I am in love with and who supported me all this time.

22. Five years after release.

Looking forward, my obligation with the Bureau of Prisons comes to end in 2017 If God extends His plan for my life five years after my release.  I aspire to have financial stability as I will run my own small business and work for a well known-media publication.  My desire is to live at the border, near my beloved parents and my children who deserve my unconditional support.

I will be better qualified to work as a photojournalist as I will study an adequate career that helps me to master my writing skills.  I will combine this knowledge with my previous experience as a photographer.

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

My mind was empty of thoughts regarding people in prison.  For many years, only a blurred misconception of a prisoner sketched on a motion picture screen offered to me an idea of this reality lived beyond fiction.

One of my assignments as a newspaper photographer, was visiting County Jail to obtain mug shots of people arrested in the last hours as a complement of a story for a local news section, but once into the entrails of the prison, carrying on my shoulders the weight of a federal number identification, my perspective experienced a metamorphosis.

I remember those days when I conducted myself as a merciless judge of people in prison thinking that I was untouchable by criminal justice because my free of addictions lifestyle and my behavior as a model citizen.

It was common to see a group of prisoners in fluorescent uniforms cleaning sidewalks and highways in my hometown, as common was to see society individuals ignoring a human being behind those uniforms suffering the degradation and consequences of a bad decision in their past.

24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:

I consider it an atrocity how society’s mind has been atrophied and manipulated by television programs and movies as those sources stereotype people in prison as a pile of trash; criminals incapable of living under a shade of moral and spiritual principles.

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

26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?

The adjustment is similar to the prisoner stereotype in areas that are out of my control.

I carry the weight of prejudice and the impossibility of establishing a rational relationship with my family.

The prison system squeezes hope of being a responsible man because it interferes with my ability to interact with my family. Prison policies obstruct my effort to prepare for a law-abiding life upon release.

Furthermore, ten minutes a day and a few dollars a month are not enough resources for the fulfilment of a function as a head of a family and a society contributor.  I understand that I am paying for the bad decisions that I made, but I do not understand why my innocent children, parents and the woman that I love have to.

27. In what ways is your adjustment different?

My adjustment differs from the prisoner stereotype in many ways.

As a man who serves a 51 months sentence, I have used every single day educating myself with any resource available.  Similar to a scavenger, I look for others’ trash, abandoned books that connect my clear defined values and goals with my commitment to reach them and emerge successful from prison to society.  Moreover, I turn to the most appraised and beautiful gift that God gave to me; my brothers behind the walls.

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

28. High security.

29. Medium security.

30. Low security.

31. Minimum security.

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

33. In what ways, if any, do those who never return to prison serve their sentences differently from those who do return to prison?

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?

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

47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?

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

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

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

51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?

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

53. Where did those choices lead?

54. What did you value then?

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

56. What would you do differently if you could?

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

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

59. Identify the values by which you live.

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

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

62. Where does your allegiance lie?

63. Are values situational or absolute?

 

 

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