Weekly Journal – Planning For the Future
In my last couple entries I talked about the activities I’m doing here from treatment to tutoring and teaching classes. As I mentioned a lot of this comes from internal motivations because I don’t get anything extra for doing these things. The criminal justice system doesn’t currently incentivize inmates to do anything beyond required activities nor does it penalize inmates who do the bare minimum. In this journal, I wanted to expand on that a little and talk about some specific action steps and plans I’m making for the future. Some of the things are small and goofy or may not come to anything, but brainstorming is something productive I can do to look towards the future. And I’m blessed to have the support of some people who have helped me do this planning.
Given my background in finance and the classes I’ve been working on in here, I’ve thought about how I can use those skills on the outside some day. There is a group in my community that works on helping former prisoners become re-integrated into society. The pastor at my church works with them and through her I’ve begun talking about ways I can help out their efforts by teaching personal financial literacy. Former inmates are a group that I think can really benefit from this type of information. I also talked to another inmate who is Native American and there might be ways to help teach financial literacy as part of an adult education course for community members who inherit large chunks of money from casino royalties but don’t know what to do with it. Through a connection here I have helped a local Career and Technical Education coordinator start to develop a business education curriculum for a school district. I will continue to explore ways I might be able to volunteer or even work in fields of adult education or online curriculum planning.
Realistically I probably need to wait until I’m closer to my outdate before I look for specific jobs or volunteer positions, but I also know after volunteering at a wildlife refuge for a decade when I was younger, that I want to find a shelter or refuge to volunteer with when I’m released. Because I’ve had to be creative with coming up with activities to do with my kids, I’m in the middle of writing a book on parenting from prison. I’m making examples and creating templates for others to use based on 15-20 different ideas I’ve come up with. I’m hoping they can add this as a resource for the parenting program they have here or another group can use it. Also, as I’m writing a second book on my family’s genealogy, I plan on working with the LDS church to help others get started searching their family tree. This could be helping people do two things, researching ancestors or interviewing family members to record family stories.
I’ve talked to my pastor about other ways to volunteer with my church. Another idea I’ve spent a lot of time developing is creating a cultural education app that would have a link for each country with videos interviewing locals explaining different aspects of that country’s culture including food, athletics, art, politics, etc. The idea would be to partner with a company like Khan Academy to create content and then also put links on each country’s profile partnering with churches, schools and other organizations for cultural exchanges and volunteer opportunities in that country. We may be able to link this with work our church already does for mission trips.
Some other more minor ideas involve continuing to help other inmates with legal research. I’ve also reached out to my public defender and others to see if there is a way to utilize the time and resources of inmates to look things up. I’ve written local companies looking for donations of old athletic equipment and other things to increase the resources and opportunities for inmates to be healthy and productive which would hopefully improve their mental health and lower the chance of recidivism. I’ve also tried things like encouraging the prison to do a blood drive. Finally, I’ve sat down with other inmates and written out lists of ideas for community service opportunities including things from prevention of drunk driving to bike safety. Overall, I really am motivated to find ways to do good in the world, and though resources here are limited, the one resource I have, time, allows me to try to plan for the future.