When I went to prison it was for making a lot of money through a bank fraud scheme. While I was engaged in these activities I lived a lifestyle of luxury. I drove a Mercedes S Class, a BMW 7 Series and a Lexus LS. I had expensive gold chains and my cars were always on rims with beats and sometimes TVs with video game systems. I always kept thousands of dollars in my pocket. When I was released from prison, those days were over with.
When I was released from Larch Corrections Center in 2008 I had $40 to my name and no idea where my next dollar would come from. I lived with the mother of my children, who lived with her mother. My kid’s mom was receiving cash and food benefits from the state and she was able to add me to it despite my felony convictions. Getting cash from the state came along with a lot of requirements and expectations. It might have been easier to return to criminal activity to support my family but I knew that was not the route I wanted to go down.
I ended up working for a few days at The Old Country Buffet, that didn’t work out for me. Due to the fact that the state gave me cash I was forced to do community service at the Tacoma Rescue Mission and St. Vincent De Paul. Eventually my kid’s mom was sent to Purdy on a year and a day sentence. At that point, only a few months after being released from prison, I became the sole guardian of two young children, ages five and three. I had to be there for my kids so returning to a life of crime was not an option!
Quite often I would face temptation. I still knew people who were hustlers and I would run into them every now and then. People loved to talk about the past. I don’t know how many times people offered to pay me to teach them the “bank lick” but every time I would remind them that I had 30 felony convictions and tell them it’s not worth it. Every now and then I would see someone I knew riding in a nice car and it would make me wish I still had stuff like that, sometimes it was even the same cars I had previously owned. I knew that as long as I could stay free and focus on school that eventually I could buy a nice car and that has held true.
To some people, being on probation is a curse. For me, being on probation was a blessing. For me personally, knowing that I could go to jail for things that would not send the average citizen to jail only gave me more motivation to do good. I had layer upon layer of reasons to not return to my criminal ways and of them all being on probation was probably the biggest deterrent. I have seen too many people throughout my life end up in a never-ending cycle of incarceration and run-ins with the criminal justice system due to probation violations. Unfortunately, I have also seen classmates waste their time and opportunity to earn a degree due to issues resulting from probation violations.
You have to make a decision here and now, before enrolling in college. If you are not ready to be done with the attitudes and behaviors that led to your incarceration then you cannot succeed as a college student. You need to be actively present and you need to spend your time taking positive steps that lead to growth and development of your skills and character that will ensure a successful future. You will need to make some tough decisions and you might need to cut off people you care about. Just remember, during your journey nothing will be given to you and you must earn all of your accomplishments through hard work and dedication.