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It’s not impossible to find positive role models in prison

By Brian Wood - | May 23, 2016

I’ve mentioned many times all the bad influences that surround me in prison; there are many, but I’ve also found good ones.

The more time I’ve spent around certain individuals, the more I have found my admiration for them.

If it wasn’t for my incarceration, I never would have met them. I am in the Culinary Arts program with a prisoner who was quite financially successful and it has been a treat to observe the way he thinks; it’s been refreshing to discover how often that mindset involves what he can do for others. I am proud to call him a friend.

There was another inmate, who along with the principal here at the prison, built the education department from the ground up, making it the thriving program it is today. He was a great manager of people and had the best work ethic I have ever witnessed first-hand. He got me a job in education and was a great example for how to conduct myself at work.

My focus is on my return to society and how I can better position myself for success when that day comes. I am also trying to take advantage of every opportunity in order to make that day come sooner.

But what if that day never comes? How would I handle that? I find myself admiring some prisoners who are not worrying about release because they might never see it. I couldn’t tell you why this is, but a number of prisoners who will be here for at least 25 years have the very best attitudes.

There’s one prisoner in that situation that I’m always going to for advice. He’s a pleasure to be around, as he is one of the funniest, charismatic guys I know. I’ve spent some time examining how he operates and it would seem this question is always in the front of his mind, “How can I help my fellow inmates?”

If he sees something that needs fixing or can be done to help other inmates, he tries to make it happen. He stands out, because not everyone thinks or acts this way. He’s innovative and puts himself in a position to make a difference. He’s accepted that this is his home and his life, but he hasn’t accepted that things can’t be better.

There’s another inmate who is just a ball of positive energy. He has an infectious smile and is all too eager to share it, even though he will likely never get out of prison. Guys like this have really helped me make the best of my time, not just in preparation for my life outside, but in finding the silver linings in my day-to-day. I recently saw a quote by an unknown author that said, “If you can’t be happy with nothing, then you won’t be happy with everything.”

It’s been an interesting exercise to try and find positive role models in prison, but surprisingly not a difficult one.


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