Seth Ferranti/ Class 2: Goals
64. What values might lead a person to success upon release from prison?:
The values that will lead a person to success upon release from prison include responsibility, integrity, perseverance, diligence and continuous hard work. Nothing can be taken for granted. When I come home I know I will have tremendous obstacles to overcome including the length of time I have been incarcerated. Life has passed me by and I have a lot of learn about technology and how things are today because it was a different world when I was locked up in 1993. The values I believe will lead me to success are values I am practicing today. I try to incorporate them all into everything I do everyday.
65. How does a person ever become his values?:
A person becomes his values by putting them into practice on a daily basis. You have to practice what you preach and do what you say. If you are going to talk the talk than walk the walk anything else is a facade. Over time by putting my values to practice I have slowly adapted and incorporated them into my life. As they say practice makes perfect.
66. How does a person strengthen his integrity?:
You strengthen your integrity by doing what you say you are going to do and being a man of your word. You just don’t tell somebody something because that is what they want to hear. You have to live up to your word and be a man. Like they say in here, word is bond, and your word being good is something good and something that will strengthen your integrity.
67. What immediate challenges will a prisoner confront the day his prison term expires?:
When my prison term expires I will face immediate challenges of how learning how to live free and without such severe restrictions. I will still face restrictions as those in any society face and mine will even be a little stricter due to me being on probation and having to meet those terms but I am ready to face them and live according to the conditions of my probation and the conditions I have set for myself commiserate with my values as discussed above. I am lucky in the reagrd that I have a loving wife and a house to go to but I will still have to get clothes, a car and other incidentals like an iphone, ipad and stuff like that so that I can communicate and assimilate myself into the modern world and all it entails.
I am good for housing but I will have to work with my wife and take on a lot of responsibility for the upkeep of the house that she has been taking care of for all these years and I will have to work to help her pay the bills and stuff like that for our living expenses inregards to the house. We are good on household furnishings but I will want to improve and upgrade our household furnishing as need arises. I will have to immediately buy a whole new wardrobe and expect to spend upwards ot $5,000 to clothe myself when I come home since I have nothing in regards to clothes. I will need a car or truck and I expect to buy a late model one that I am looking for it will cost $25,000 or so, I am lucky in the regard that my parents have said they will help me out with this. There are a whole bunch of other little things I will need to get like big screen TV, iPhone, iPad, iPod- all the little comforts that I ahve missed including cooking stuff and a thousand other little things that I will acquire over time but not exactly when I first come home. I will get stuff as I can afford and it might take me several years to get all the little things and accesories that I want.
69. Household furnishings:
73. How much in the way of financial resources should a prisoner expect to need in the way of financial resources to transition to society?:
I am expecting to need around $30,000 or so when I first get out or at the least have enough for the clothes, incidentals and a down payment for a vehicle. I am hoping that my parents can help me buy a truck outright though so I won’t be saddled with car payments. Plus I will have to pay insurance and also I would like to get some dental work done that might cost $5,000, get lasik eye surgery to correct my vision and get my nasal passages operated on as I have a deviated septum from my nose being broken several times. So this will cost even more and possibly I will not be able to incur these costs when I first get out but they will be future costs that I will have to endure to get the stuff needed done that I want and need to get done after 20 straight years of incarceration.
74. How will prospective landlords, employers, creditors, and others in society respond to an individual who discloses his criminal record(s) and history of imprisonment?:
I think they will respond to me negatively but I have taken steps to form a business, my publishing house Gorilla COnvict Publications that I can walk into when I come home and my parents and wife have gotten several credit cards in my name to build up and maintain my credit so I will have certain things going my way and to my advantage since I have been preparing for my eventual release during my whole incarceration. Still I will need to get another job if necessary for probation as I don’t think they will let me run my own business at first but eventually I expect to be allowed to do that and if I am self-employed and already have good credit and my wife owns a house I will be covered in those regards. But still I will have to put up with the stigma of being an ex-con and drug dealer for the rest of my life and just deal with it as I can.
Describe the job market in the sectors for which you would like to find employment::
75. What range of income does the market offer?:
My book company, already makes and generates a little income but I expect to be able to raise that bottom line when I come home and am able to devote more time to it. Not that I will be able to get rich off it but I believe I will be able to live off of it and implement my other future plans which includes expanding my brand with more products to sell and even getting into dvds, documentarys and films. But I will have to learn to do that and get the necessary software to edit and put together the various film elements that I have plans on doing. I have a vision and a will and most definitely I will find a way when I am home just as I have found a way while I have been in here to do the things that I have done during my incarceration.
76. What level of education or experience do candidates for such employment typically have?:
Most people coming out of prison don’t have high levels of education but I took steps ealry in my incarceration to alleviate that concern by getting my AA, BA and MA degress from Pennsylvainia State University, University of Iowa and California State University through correspondence courses, that luckily my family was able to pay for. I have continued my education by reading and learning about thins like social media, writing scripts and making films. Also I have tried to learn as much about computers and all the other technological gadgets that I can by reading magazines and staying current and up to date on what is going on outside with computers and the like. I have been taking as many classes or courses on computers as I can in here to get ahead of the curve and learn the stuff that I will need to know once I get out so that I can help to operate and run my publishing house. Also I might explore going back to school possibly to get my doctorate or at least taking some courses in film making so that I can pursue that avenue.
77. In what ways will a prison record influence possibilities for employment?:
I think a prison record is a big negative for employment opportunities but as I am hoping to get into film, productions, running my own business and public speaking I think it can only be a benefit just as having this profile on the web is and going through the drug program (rdap) as I am now also. I am looking at it all as a plus instead of a negative and I am very ready to test my skills and all the knowledge and tools I have developed in preparation for my release back into society.
78. Where is the general employment rate in your community?:
I don’t even know what my community is. I have been locked up so long. I am going to live with my wife in St. Louis, Missouri and I don’t really know the area that well but I have her to rely on and even if I have to get a job just to get by when I first get out I see better and brighter things in my future and I have a good idea what I want to do workwise, regardless of the local community. But I believe that with the current economical state in our country the employment rate can’t be very good but I will do what I have to do and even take a job paying minimum wage if that is what it takes. I don’t mind working and I have no problem doing what I have to do for now because I know in the future things will get better because I ahve a very good idea and firm plan on what I want to do and accomplish.
79. How would you expect the general employment rate to compare with the unemployment rate for people with your background, considering prison record, educational record, and experience?:
I believe that the general unemployment rate for people with prison records would be worse then for people without prison records. Having a criminal record is a serious detriment to my employability. That is why I am set on self-employment so that I can be my own boss and not have to worry about all that. Of course at first if it is part of my probation and i have to work some place I will but the ultimate goal is to work for myself and run the business that I started from in here.
80. How much time do you anticipate needing between your release date and securing the job you expect to land?:
I expect to have a job within weeks when I first get to the halfway house and I expect to keep that job for a while until I can convince my probation officer that I will be better off working at my own business and for myself. I know that might not happen right away but i expect within 6 months to a year I should be able to make that change so that I can run my own business.
81. If halfway house placement requires forfeiture of 25 percent of gross earnings, of your monthly take-home pay, how much do you anticipate you will keep during the time you’re in the halfway house?:
Since most of my immediate needs such as clothes, car, communication will be met with my families help I will spend the rest of my monthly take pay after the forfeiture of 25 percent to the halfway house on other incidentals I will need like gas, food and stuff like that. If possible I will save but that will not be my priority at first. My priority will be getting into the position where I can run and build my own business that has already been developed and is out there waiting for me.
82. What do statistics show that average households in America earn each year?:
I believe that most households only earn like $20 or 30 k a year.
83. How so you anticipate your income will compare with that average one year after your release from prison?:
I expect to earn much more than that, maybe not at first but when I can dedicate all my time and efforts to my business I think that I can earn upwards of $100 k a year doing what I have a passion to do and that is working on my writing, marketing, getting national distribution and turning my ideas and work into documentaries and dvd’s.
84. What emotions do we introduce when we obsess on issues beyond our ability to influence?:
When you come to prison you have to realize and accept that everything and I mean everything is beyond your control. You are told when to eat, when to sleep, when to work, when to go to the store, when to go to the bathroom, when to stand up, when to sit down- it is an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. It takes some getting used to but to do your time drama free you need to accept this fact. There is no reasoning with these people. Most of them are morons (staff and prisoners alike) so you just have to deal with it and accept that everything is beyond your control except how you act and how you react to situations. You will feel anger, frustration and more but you just have to hold it in and find a way to channel it productively be it working out, helping and teaching others through classes and the like or just working on your own project, reading and learning. You have to focus and stay within yourself and overcome the feelings you will have and accept the situation for what is is you are in prison, so just deal with it.
85. How can we overcome the despair that accompanies imprisonment?:
You can overcome the despair that accompanies prison by staying busy and setting goals and accomplishing them. Your life doesn’t stop when you come to prison. It is just a more restrictive life. I have accomplished a lot from prison but you have to figure out what you can do and what you want to do and then set about doing it. A lot of obstacles and pitfalls will be put in your path but you have to dodge them just like you have to dodge all the haters, bammers and knuckleheads who reside in the belly of the beast and netherworld of corruption and violence. Stay focused, stay goal orientated and stay connected to the outside world with the email and phone. Your minutes will be severely restricted and if you don’t have funds so will your emails but outside contact is something to look forward to, just like mail and accomplishing your goals, so it gives you a semblance of living, which is all you can expect in prison.
Michael wrote about the numerous ways that his behavior could lead to the extension of his prison term or the aggravation of his prison conditions. No one wants to serve longer prison terms or serve sentences under harsher conditions. :
86. What types of behavior lead to such outcomes?:
I will give you an example of a close friend of mine who I was locked up with at FCI Gilmer in 2005 and 2006. He was a young white kid from the suburbs, kind of counterculture with long dreadlocks and he just didn’t care. He came in with an 18 year sentence for bank robbery, but basically he was just a junkie who was trying to get money for a fix. He was a good kid, had heart and was kind to people but he liked to drink and take drugs. He was like 22. He kept drinking and taking drugs in prison and kept going to the hole and getting dirty urines. I told him “Dude if you keep it up they are going to raise your level and you are going to end up in the penitentiary.” I was referring to the high level security prisons which are called USP’s instead of FCI’s which are medium security prisons and where we resided. But the kid didn’t care or take heed of my advice. He was not a violent dude but he would defend himself. He was just a junkie basically and he couldn’t stop taking drugs or drinking so he got more shots and ended up getting transferred to USP Pollack in Louisiana, a very violent penitentiary with lots of gangs. His points were raised because he kept getting shots or incident reports, repeated incident reports for rule violations make your points and security level go up. So this young suburban kid ended up in the vicious penitentiary and had lots of problems because of his long dreadlocks. The white prison gangs didn’t like that very much so he got into it with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Luckily he didn’t get killed but he got hurt pretty bad and got transferred to another USP in Pennsylvania where he still resides and will most likely finish his time because he keeps getting busted with shanks and homemade weapons which he feels he needs to defend himself after the last episode. So that is just one example of what type of behavior leads to an aggravation of prison conditions.
87. How do harsher prison conditions influence an individual’s ability to prepare for success upon release?:
As stated in the previous answer, the young man has to arm himself to feel safe and keeps getting caught with weapons and getting more shots and serving more hole time so it is a vicious cycle he has found himself in and he has no time or inclination to prepare himself for success uopn release because he is just worried about surviving. But he did it to himself. If he would have followed my advice and controlled his drinking and drug taking and not gotten all those shots his level would have dropped and he could have ended up in a loweer securtiy prison like a low or a camp where he could have focused more on the things he needed to do to get out and emerge from prison sucessfully but now he has been brainwashed and transformed into a dude that will do whatever it takes to survive and his hopes of leading a successful life when he gets out will be much harder, not impossible, but he will have to reprogram himself and adapt to society’s standards instead of the harsh penitentiary thinking he has adapted to survive in his brutal environment. So being in the harsher prison conditions has defintely influenced his ability to prepare for success upon release. The person we are speaking of even told me he doesn’t even have time to read a book because he is just staying on point and trying to survive.
88. How does behavior that leads to harsher prison conditions influence the lives of those in our support network?:
When you get in trouble in prison and move up in level you might be in and out of the hole (Special Housing Unit or SHU) more often than not, like the kid in the example above, due to the fact that he feels threatened and had to carry a shank or homemade weapon everywhere with him, thus increasing his chances of getting shook down and caught with it and written a shot and going to the hole. Going in and out of the hole is very disruptive to you and to your family as you are not allowed to use the phone or have access to your property and it makes communication hard. SO in that situation you can lose touch with people in your support network. Also as sanctions for violating the rules your phone, email and other privilges involving communication can be taken for 3 months upwards to 5 years for repeat violations.
89. Although the prison system offered ways to lengthen a prison term or aggravate the conditions under which a prisoner served his sentence, what objective mechanisms exist within the system for a prisoner to distinguish himself in a positive way?:
They have what they call programs, they want you programming, but most of the programs offer nothing but a certificate and they aren’t even recognized outside of prison. You can take vocational courses and enter into apprenticeships and some institutions offer college courses but the chances to get a degree through a prison run program is very rare. They offer computer courses like word and excell and give prisoners the opportunity to get some computer skills but most of the waiting list are long and they go by release date. The closer you are to release the higher up on the waiting list you will be. SO the programs are minimal. In my case i took college correspondence course that my family paid for and took the burden of educating myself on myself and my family who paid the fees. That was the only way I could accomplish what I have. So in reality the way for a prisoner to distinguish themselves in a positive are are minimal.
90. How then does the system encourage individuals to work toward reconciling with society, prepare for law-abiding lives upon release, or earn freedom?:
The system doesn’t really encourage prisoners to work toward reconciling with society and prepare for law-abiding lives upon release. And there is no way to earn freedom. The only program in the whole BOP that even encourages something like this is the RDAP or drug program in which you can get up to 12 months off your sentence for completing the 500 hour residential program which take about 10 months. And you can only get into this program if you qualify and the qualifications are very strict. You had to have previous drug use before your incarceration that is documented in your presentence investigation report. Plus you can only get in this program when you are 36 months short. That is the only program in effect like that and it is very restrictive on who can get into it.
91. Describe the goals you have set?:
I have set many goals for myself, ongoing, short term and long term. I have a goal to have 10 books published and 10 screenplays written before i get out. As of right now I have 5 books published and have written 3 screenplays so I am well on my way to achieving my goals. Also I want gorillaconvict.com, the website that features my work and books to grow and build a fan base so that when I come home and take that business over I will have something to work with. I also have a goal of getting in prime physical condition which I am well on my way to doing also. My other goals include loving, honoring and cherishing my wife and the life and love we share. I also want to become the best and most productive person I can be.
92. Describe how your goals relate to your professed values?:
My goals relate to my professed values because to me everything I am doing and trying to do is connected. It all comes back to the same thing, working hard and being productive and trying to put myself in the best position to succeed when I go home. I am practicing all who I am and all that I want to be today. I am not waiting for tomorrow. I am implementing all my plans, or as much as I am allowed to, right now and will continue to do so to help grow my career and future prospects.
93. How clearly can you gauge your level of success toward each goal you set?:
I feel that I can gauge my level of success very clearly especially in the attention I get for my writing and how many of my books sell. I can see my body changing as I get into better and better shape my exercising and eating right. I can see my mental state improving by how people respond to me and the respect and consideration they give me. But it is all an ongoing process. I am not yet where I want to be. I am a work in progress in everything I am doing.
94. In what ways does one goal lead to the next?:
All the goals are interconnected as they all lead to the eventual desired outcome of returning to society and becoming a productive successful and law abiding citizen. Everything I am doing now is for my future and it will pay dividends when I get out and can put all the tools I have been developing to work. Everything is geared toward that and taking care of and loving my wife and building a future for us where we will be comfortable and be able to do the things we want to do when we want. I also want to leave my work on society with my books and the writing I am doing and get into other things when I come home to help youngsters so that don’t have to pay the price that I have had to pay for my hardheadedness and inability to determine right from wrong. I want to show the person that I am that I have become that I should have become a long time ago before it took these extreme measures for me to wake up and realize the truth of love, live and everything else.
95. If you achieve all of your goals, how will they influence your prison adjustment?:
By achieving goals and accomplishing them in the harsh prison environment that you will be living in you can prove to yourself that if you set your mind to it you can accomplish and do anything you put your mind to. My goals are not just goals and when reached accomplishments they are a part of me, something that no one can take away. They define me, just as my crimes and prison sentence defined me before. But I have shown that I can overcome all that and redefine myself in this negative and harsh environment. My goals and accomplishments have let me transcend prison and reach outside the fences to build a network of support in my chosen field of writing. I have contacts and people that value my work and my word and what I am doing and what I have done. I have a career waiting for me and a business waiting for me and a home and a wife waiting for me. All of this has influenced my prison adjustment in the most positive way and all of this I have created and gained since my incarceration, basically I have created all of this from nothing.
96. How will the goals you set influence your prospects for success upon release?:
My goals will continue to let me live positively and crime free when I go home. My prospects are good becasue of all the hard work I have put in during my incarceration. I have decreased my chances of recidivism by doing all that I have done. That was the goal the whole time and I aspire to be a living example and testament to that when I go home and become successful using all the tools and ideas and the business and my writing that I have developed while in prison.