Shawn Piper/ Class 7: Support Networks
174. In what ways do you perceive relationships with people you knew prior to confinement to evolve over the course of your imprisonment?
My relations with those that were a part of my A.A. homegroup has diminished. Those whom I have dealt with on a positive, legitimate business level steer clear of me and any contact that I’ve tried to make has been to no avail. I don’t get any responses, my only relations with the outside world is with my sister and her kids, my grandmother, my son and my in-laws. All of my other family and support is gone. I rely on those few that have shown unconditional love and my G-d up above.
175. In what ways have you nurtured support networks during the time you’ve served thus far?
Like I said before, I have none. Those I have correspondence with have busy work or school schedules or are retired. I’m not supposed to associate with any felons upon my release, but I tried to build an association with the men here to see if they can lend support or have a contact or have a contact that may be resourceful.
176. In what ways will the support network you have in place now contribute to your success upon release?
The support group that I have now are the ones that I owe all I have to give from love, honesty, loyalty and trust. They have kept me grounded and have shown me true unconditional love. They’ve made sacrifices to assure my well being. There are men that I have met that know my situation and know my heart. Those men share in my grief and are willing to be of support to me in anyway that they can. I’m trying to build a support network by building this portfolio but as of yet, nothing has happened.
177. In what ways would you build a strong support network while you climbed through years of imprisonment?.
I am doing what I can as of right now. The only other thing I can do is try to reach out more to people in society. But with limited resources, finances, and contacts on the outside it’s kind of hard to do making $15/month. I already make sacrifices and budget the money I’m sent while doing odd jobs as well. I don’t have spare stamps to send out to potential support members and get no response back.
178. In what ways do support networks or the lack of support networks influence prison adjustments?
That which doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. There is one support network that never fails and that is G-d.
179. To what extent are the values that those in your support network embrace harmonious with the values you profess to embrace?
Honesty, family, loyalty, trust and hard work, while striving to be mentally, physically, spiritually and financially fit. I’ve told you who my network consists of, so I share and express my feelings and aspirations with them and vice versa, as well as few men that I associate with in here. In doing this, we grow together and show together, while knowing what progress has made and the steps we’re taking to accomplish what we’ve set out to do.
180. What steps are you taking now to build or nurture your support network?
I have my family and their busy schedules that are still there for me, try to reach out to those that I have prior business with through my auto detail shop. I’m speaking with the men I’m incarcertated with. I’m doing this and looking for new ideas and inspiration from those that are in the line of work I wish to do. And there are a few things I’d like to pursue.
181. In what ways can those in your support network facilitate your aspirations?
By continuing doing what they’ve already been doing.
182. In what ways is your support network helping you now?
By staying true and believing in me, keeping in good spirits.
183. What level of allegiance do you pledge to your support network?
The highest as I’ve said before numerous times.
184. What incremental action steps can you to take to bring people you do not currently know into your life?
Finish my portfolio in this workbook, ask my family to look for potential sponsors in their circle of colleagues.
185. What thoughts do you have about people who would be most influential to your possibilities for success upon release?
I think someone who can inspire while giving me the opportunity to show my self worth. Someone with the same aspirations, morals, ethics, and loyalty that I have. A person that is involved in community betterment and shows a true desire to help others in anyway, whenever possible.
186. Who are they?
I don’t know, but if they meet the criteria of the answers to the last question, that’s a big plus. Someone that’s mentally, physically, spiritually and financially fit.
187. What interests do they have?
Interest of success and the betterment of themselves and others.
188. How can you make them aware of your aspirations?
By doing what I’ve been doing, showing and proving while having others in here hold me accountable for my actions. Having my sister continue helping me, the best she can, with her limited time and financial restraints.
189. What impression would your adjustment through prison thus far make upon them?
I hope it would make a good one, being that I have done and am doing all that I can to better myself while setting the foundation for the aspirations that I have. I might have to re-evaluate somethings because I don’t want to spread myself too thin. Being that I have a few other business ideas that I’ve got to put irons in the fire on.
190. In what ways are you working to cultivate mentors?
As I said, I have a financial mentor that I sit with, but currently neither one of us the time due to heavy school and work loads. I do have those that I speak with that hold me accountable for my staying on course.
191. In what ways does your behavior or activities within prison boundaries influence your relationships?
It’s all about preparation for being back in society. People watch to see if you’re a productive person or one that wanders around aimlessly. I’ve said it before, associations brings about assimilation.
192. How would you assess the preparations and commitment your closest acquaintances make to a law-abiding, successful life upon release?
They are an inspiration for me, and hopefully I am to them. Then there are a couple of young guys that I try to work with and lead by example. Showing my discipline on the movie nights and sports events to do my studies and other productive things for my preparation.
193. If you were to receive a disciplinary infraction, in what way would that influence the support network you’re striving to cultivate?
It my turn anyone away because it might be seen as a defiance to authority or a sign of negativity. But as Michael wrote, he was set to the SHU for no reason of his own. Some staff may have it in for you, or you can be standing up for yourself as a man, first and foremost and not just a number. I feel those who are ready to give me a chance shouldn’t let that stop them. Sometimes things happen, but I do my best to avoid doing anything that will get me written up.
194. What relevance does the phrase “It’s not what you know but who you know” have to you?
Knowledge is king, but if you know someone that knows someone, or have someone that can put you in the position of success or growth, that makes things a whole lot easier. Like I said, you have to make yourself available for good things to happen – that’s why I strive to obtain the knowledge from those that might be the person you need know or can help you get to know that person.
195. To what extent would your actions show that you’re conscious of the influence others have on your prospects for success upon release?
By my day to day activities of discipline, work habits, study habits, communication skills, interaction with the right people and low tolerance for BS.
196. How can a prisoner open more opportunities to broaden his network of support?
By reaching out to communities through family friends or associates of family members by using this MGSF book to build a profile.
197. How would your transition to society change if you had a job offer in place before your release?
It would be real smooth knowing I had an income in place. I would be able to move on with my other plans of action such as inding an A.A. home group and a church for fellowship. I could also start to seek out those I need to make amends to.
198. What steps will you begin taking now to broaden, nurture, and protect your support network each week that you remain in prison?
Once I’m done with my profile, I will continue to write blogs, I will continue to connect with those that are around me who are on the right track for non-recividism. Obtaining knowledge and being held accountable. I will eventually try writing someone that can better direct me in a line of work that I wish to pursue.
199. How will you hold yourself accountable?
Just as I have been by my few family members that are there for me and the men I keep abreast of all of my actions. I have little to nothing waiting for me. Failure is not an option. So I know what I have got to do. I will constantly set goals and mark the progress by the steps that I take.