I didn’t mention that I have been a peer-educator for the Cognitive Intervention Program the past four years. People do not realize the wealth of understanding and wisdom found in the institutions around this country. Well I’ve tapped into this rich source to assist me in finding different avenues to changing a person’s Circumstance. I have asked for volunteers to help answer this question, how do you change your circumstances? The participants wrote out varying degrees of answers, I found them both enlightened and honest. I pray that their outpouring will assist you in your change or broaden your understanding of the potential growth of the incarcerated soul.

This is what my friends and peers have to say about change:

Benny Smallwood, “In order to change our circumstances we must have knowledge, wisdom, and understanding; we have to have the knowledge of who we want to become, we have to be wise in our decisions, and have an understanding of the circumstances we want to remain in.”

Ronald Floyd, “Before you can change your circumstances you must first realize that there is a need for change.”

Brandon Charles, “You change your circumstances by waking up everyday and giving all praise to Allah (God)! Then you tell yourself, ‘today will be a good day’, the next thing is to do something, learn » something, help yourself and another.”

Richard Leftrick, “You have to look deep inside yourself to figure out what is causing you to be in the circumstances… we have to understand that we are the reason behind our circumstances.”

Julio Chavez, “You have to have a desire to change, it wont be easy, it takes dedication and sometimes you must go through a fucked up situation to understand hitting your head against the wall will not change the wall. –

Do you understand what these men are saying? They are telling the world that we are responsible for remaining in our current Circumstances and at time we are the cause of them. We are capable of change if we realize that there is a need to change, possess a desire to change and at times experience hardship while we change. Give me a second because they have more to add.

Matthew Whitfield, “Change, that word by itself can be scary because I can’t tell you how I can change. I just know that I’m ready to change.” And sometime knowing this is enough to begin with.

Jose Sarcedo, “You need to become a kid and relearn everything again.”

Ryan Sanchez, “Surround yourself around positive people who do positive things.”

John White, “You have to go through a faze in life to go through change.”

Mario Barrientos, “The most effective way to success in life, is through He who gave you the door..Jesus.”

Kendrick Hunter, “It all starts with you… it won’t happen overnight or through the day, it takes time if you are committed to a change…”

Rickey Pineda J.R., “I have to change myself not just for me but for my kids and the people that I love and care about me.”

Xavier Smith, “As a person of prayer, does the devotion to the Lord express itself in a desire to be with him?”

Jamal Miller, “Understanding change that results in transformation takes a series of steps. Some vertical, some lateral, but knowing that each step had a purpose to effect ones circumstances.”

Cesar Moises Rodriquez, “Love yourself and be the man you were born to be and watch your whole world change.”

Sheldon Steems, “You first change the way that you think, change the people that you hang around with.”

Darius Brown, “If you do find yourself in an unfortunate circumstance you should use the time to do away with the negative attribute that you’re holding onto…”

Listen to what these men have to offer, they have suffered in this life and have made strides to change their circumstances. They have been both victims and victimizers; they hold a unique understanding of growth and change.

Noah F. Jackson, “Your circumstances may not be the best, don’t be afraid, embrace it and make it don’t allow it to make you.”

Antonio Torres, “I would first need to find a why which is more powerful than my why not. A man who finds himself a powerful why can bear almost any why not.”

Are my peers perfect no; this is only a demonstration of the process that we are taking to become better men for our families, friends and communities. We are not being lazy, just “doing time”, we are altering our futures by recognizing the mistakes of our past and we are living better. We are not just talking; we are attempting to help everybody that we can because we understand that our circumstances can only be changed by us, because God imbued us with the authority to do so.

Raymond Ross Jr., “You have to take responsibilities for your wrong and change so that your circumstances may be better.”

Thomas Mata, “Change ‘Only’ comes when the pain of staying the same, is ‘Greater’ then that of which it takes to change…”

Damn I am always impressed with the wisdom that these men speak, but what really drives me is when I see one start acting like he talks, when he actually lives what he says. That America is a beautiful sight to behold, to witness the transformation and growth of a man. Knowing that this is another person that will be an asset to his family, this is peace.

Antonio L., “In prison it’s a constant struggle to hold onto your mind and keep your sanity, especially at the age of 21, incarcerated Since age 17 with a 38 year sentence. You have to fight every single : day, not physically but mentally. My body is on lock right now but my mind, my mind is free. Make something positive out of a negative Situation.”

Now you know that I empathize with Antonio, I know the negative thoughts that could easily trap a person in despair, yet he continues to fight as do I, what about you?

Rickey Mask, “.. When you find out what your purpose is, as long as you stand for it, it doesn’t matter what the people sitting down say or do.”

Marcus Williams, “If you change your mind, you can change the whole world around you.” Change starts when you start to change. My boy Ken a like minded individual and author of numerous books wanted to give you all a few words of encouragement;

K.J. Swoopes, “In order to conquer anything at all, a man must first conquer himself. Conquering self takes discipline. Discipline takes confidence. Confidence takes mankind. Mankind takes purpose. Purpose takes patience. Patience takes time. I believe that time is something we all have. The question is what is it that you are doing with yours? Progress has nothing to do with giving up on you.

Jason Dyer, “For many people, this could be a broad or difficult question especially for those people who are incarcerated. Everyday we are surrounded by arrogance and ignorance whether it be officer or inmate. From the moment that we wake up to the second we catch our racks, we are engulfed with negativity. At times I can’t help but think if I couldn’t avoid negativity in the world, then how do I do it in the penitentiary where every type of “bad person” is crammed into one cell block?

I’ve come to realize this, in order to change yourself in these types of circumstances you need to change your outlook on life itself. Know that we all have potential and a purpose in life. I personally believe that I needed a higher power because doing it on my own wasn’t enough. I needed to rebuild my morals and thought process in its entirety. With a higher power Jesus, Allah or whatever gets you through the day; we are able to have a book or type of road map that will help guide our every footstep in life. I am not saying that your life will just be broken then viola, everything is fixed. I am saying it takes a conscious, diligent effort to overcome set mental states and behaviorisms. Yet it is possible if we strive to accomplish this goal and this I have witnessed. So Enoch this is how I see a possible way to change yourself in your circumstances. Now I ask you are you » R.E.A.D.Y ?”

Yeah, Jason, I am R.E.A.D.Y., and I am striving with others to BE more than my circumstances. I don’t just learn in the C.I.P. class I learn also that who I thought I was didn’t meet my needs over time. Get it? – ENOCH