Journal Entry: Robert Jesenik-01/30/2024-Journal #4

Journal Entry

Well, it’s been three plus weeks now, finally getting a hang of most things. I say most, as everyday one learns new rules, norms or gets a surprise like a 4-hour lockup. It really shouldn’t be this hard, but most rules/schedules aren’t written down, and even if they are, can be ignored by the guards at their pleasure. And if you ask fellow prisoners who have been here a long time, they often time misunderstand the rules and schedules themselves. It’s amazing to me that as big as the prison system is, they have no technology other than typewriters to issue rules, no online version at all.

As I reflect on the past few weeks after self surrendering, the best analogy I can use is jumping into the ocean from a pier, going 20 feet down, and slowly making your way to the surface so you can breathe again. That’s kind of how I feel, able to breathe again. I’m certainly not out of the water, but at least treading water for now.

I’m following a plan that Michael Santos has put together based on his 25 years in prison and now provided by his non profit, Earning Freedom and It consists of:

– drafting a release plan for your case manager and keeping it updated
– Book reports outlining what I learned from a book and can use post release
– daily Journals outlining your goals, and how/what you’re doing to make progress

As a good self surrendering felon, I showed up with my 40 page release plan, but the intake guard wouldn’t let me bring it in as “against the rules”. Welcome to prison I guess…. I had also been advised to mail myself a copy prior to self reporting, which did arrive. Unfortunately, due to inmates sneaking in synthetic marijuana pasted to letters or bookpages, this prison copies your mail, front page only, unbeknownst to me. So my double sided copy is now 1/2 a release plan. I’ve asked my partner to mail one to me, 10 pages at a time, but it never makes its way thru the mail system here to me. Now I’m trying another way……

I’m pretty comfortable doing book reports. Lord knows we have enough time to read books, though it amazes me how many guys would rather just watch TV or play cards. So far the suspense/mystery books make for good diversion, are easier to read, though not sure they will help me post release:) But I can’t just read serious books all the time either.

Journaling has been the hardest for me so far. It’s supposed to be about my journey, setting goals, reporting progress, so when I get out everyone will be comfortable I have the tools to be successful. But so far, having felt submerged in the ocean, all I can seem to write about are feelings and observations. Maybe now that I’m treading water and breathing again so to speak, clarity will come for what goals I have and so forth.

One goal I did arrive with at Lom Poc was to mentor inmates that were receptive, given I’m one of the oldest in a Unit of 220 guys. I started by just simply reading my daily Wall Street Journal every night at 6 pm at our only table (for whites) in front of the TV’s, a very public spot. It wasn’t even intentional, just the only spot to read besides my cell, but it didn’t take long till several guys asked to read it when I’m done and now I see it being passed all around every day to 10+guys who read at their table during the day/evening as well.

The other step I took, once I got my Bible, was to sit at the same table at 6:30 each morning and read it, and then do my writing of book reports, Blogs, journals, etc… So far I’ve had a couple of inmates ask how to get a Bible( I arranged to get one for Jose)and others just sit down next to me and chat while waiting for something. It’s almost like it’s a safe sign having a Bible.

Lastly, I get a daily email of inspirational thoughts and actions to take from Prison Professors. I’ve started printing a few out to share with other guys to encourage them to sign up for themselves and get focused on their release plan. One poor guy is on probation and has no email rights until April, so I’m having to print for him when I see one that I think would benefit him. I’m learning there is a big gossip process going on (similar to a small town) and I /we all get labeled thru that, so it is probably the best way for me to get the word out about wanting to help mentor some of the guys.

While I’m not ready to set long term goals yet, I am focused on getting my 30 day assessment with my case manager so I can sign up for classes and begin teaching classes. My first teaching class will be focused on teaching inmates about connecting with so they can start posting a blog, journal,and book reports. Step 2 will be doing an in-depth class on each type of posting, as my sense is most guys will need that. From there I look forward to what the Good Lord has in store for me!

Those are my goals and results so far. I look forward to seeing how much more defined my goals get 90 days from now!

Praying for Liberty and Freedom and to see my Fam and friends soon! BJ