Tag: magnum

4th of July – Celebration of Freedom for U.S.A.?

With the arrival of the 4th of July weekend, I find myself reflecting on the irony, for so many of us, of this celebration of freedom. Here we are, land of the free, home of the brave, proudly celebrating our freedom from tyranny and oppression – and so many of us will pass the holiday incarcerated, or dealing with the incarceration of  loved ones.

Until I had a family member facing incarceration, I was right there amongst the many, shooting off fireworks, waving sparklers in the air, munching down on hotdogs and hamburgers and celebrating our FREEDOM. Not only that, I had a generalized sentiment that prisoners had it easy overall, that we were too easy on them in fact, and that was the “problem”. Now, Texas Magnum has stated he believes that imprisonment saved his life, and I believe it as well. He also freely admits he was in the wrong, although he isn’t sure he agrees a 4 year sentence fits the crime. But that isn’t the point here.

These days I contemplate daily the huge disparities in our justice system. In learning to deal with my loved one’s incarceration I have learned so much and gained such sympathy for so many.

The truth is, many folks did break laws and by the rules of most civilized nations, the repercussion of breaking laws is punishment.
The truth is, too many of those offenders will turn right around upon their release and step once again into the arms of Johnny Law.
The truth is, a simple slap on the wrist for the more heinous crimes would feel like an insult to the victims.

But here are some other truths to ponder:
– U.S.A. leads the world in incarceration rates.
– Roughly 1 is 100 adults is incarcerated – that is 5x more than UK, 9x more than Germany and 12x more than Japan
– Over 3% of the population is either in prison, on probation, or on parole
– Drug crimes account for 2/3 of imprisonments
– African Americans represent 40% of the imprisoned population in the U.S. and only 13% of the general population in the country
– 11.7% of black men in their late 20’s are imprisoned
– in 1970 there were roughly 300,000 imprisoned. Today there are 2,300,000
– the vast majority of inmates are non-violent offenders
– In 2009  funding for K-12 and higher education fell while 33 states put more money into prisons than they had the previous year

And now, incarceration has become private business. State facilities were overcrowded, but by allowing the private sector to enter, we have created a model where the less spent on inmates the more profit to be made, AND where repeat offenders and “tough” sentencing pads the bottom line. Now that this reality exists, how do we back away from it? Just like the tobacco industry, these private corporations in the business of incarcerating our nation are actively lobbying and schmoozing to keep the profits flowing.

Much of  our overpopulation is due to the so-called “War on Drugs”, a war that has failed miserably in cutting drug use. How do we voice the need for reform to the system? In a state like Texas where more is spent on incarceration than education, it’s clear we are putting the focus on the wrong things. OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM IS BROKEN!

To top it off, prison budgets for rehabilitation, vocational training and other positives that might be realized through an incarceration are being cut across the nation. In many facilities, the majority of inmates have no job or duties to perform daily. Some may have a class that lasts a few hours a day, some are considered on “janitorial” duty, some not even that. Most overcrowded dormitory style units have a television on for most of the day, and a population of inmates spends their time watching tv, playing chess and dominoes, and doing pushups and pullups to pass the time. They are fed non-nutritional meals and given sub-standard medical care. Fights are normal, everyday occurances and everybody learns to watch their back. They will do there time in this manner and be released.

What are the chances these folks will leave the prison walls rehabilitated and ready to make it in life? We are putting them into an environment where they will come out the other side being tougher, stronger, and very likely lazier and even dumber than when they went in.

There is TONS of information out there concerning this very real epidemic of incarceration. I grabbed data from a couple sites for some quick facts and would like to cite the sources of reference. I also recommend that you give them a read, the facts are scary, to say the least.
https://www.michigandaily.com/opinion/viewpoint-prisons
http://www.prisonsucks.com/

Happy 4th of July everyone. I ask that all of us take a moment to reflect this holiday weekend, while we celebrate our freedom, what is the answer to this huge mess we have created? And, remember, if none of us speak up, nothing will change. Take action, and have a voice.
~ Editor

Yell, laugh, cry, scream, fight, or love

I will share something with you. Sometimes when I think about everything I get a heavy feeling in my heart. I think it could easily be mistaken for depression or despair. But it’s not. It’s the will to live, the passion I have for life beyond this reality I’ve set for myself.

It’s like a fire that burns inside of me, and I am not exactly sure how to release it or what’s the best outlet for it. It’s a combination of every emotion – I don’t know if I want to yell, laugh, cry, scream, fight, or love.

If you want to see what I am talking about, it will be easy to see it if you are a dog owner. Go grab the leash and walk over to your door or gate and just stand there. Your dog will be there waiting, I am sure of it, with that look in their eyes and suspense in their voices as they yap for you to hurry up. That is how I feel. Just how that dog wants to get out there and smell it all, taste the world, feel the wind on his face as he runs. More than anything I want to live my my life and be able to appreciate every little thing.

Peace ~ Magnum

Texas Magnum “catches chain”

From the Editor: Texas Magnum  “caught chain” today.

For those who don’t know jail lingo, “catching chain” means that he was picked up for TDC prison transfer to the intake facility in Huntsville, in the wee hours this morning. In thr Texas prison system, every inmate starts out in Huntsville for processing and class designation. Physical, psychological, educational and vocational testing is done to determine what class an inmate starts out as and which unit he will be assigned to. They will be assigned their TDC Number, which will be their identity for the length of time they are incarcerated.

My understanding is that the inmate’s class is an indicator of the threat level they pose, for instance, was their crime violent or non-violent, do they have any gang affiliations, etc. I have heard that an attempt is made to house similar sorts and levels of crimes together. For instance, inmates with substance abuse issues, DUI’s, and other such convictions may be housed together and armed robbery, assualt cases, and other such aggravated crimes may be housed together. Having said that, crowded conditions also comes into play, and sometimes an inmate is sent where there is space rather than where they would best fit in.

It will be several weeks until he is through with intake and sent to his designated unit. I have a few bits of writing from him, etc. that I will push out there to keep things active until we hear from him again. Meanwhile, he asked that I let you all know he was working on some replies to many of your comments and is sorry he didn’t get them mailed for posting to the site before he left. He also wants you to know that he is grateful to each and every one of you for all the support and kindness you have shown him. It has really meant a lot to him.

Keep checking back, hopefully it won’t be long until we have some updates. And please keep Texas Magnum in your thoughts and prayers as he goes through this part of his journey.

What do I have to be thankful for?

I am sitting here thinking about Thanksgiving which is this coming week and how much that was always a day that I have always enjoyed being with family. I will be missing all of it this year, but the past couple of years it seems that half of the time when it was a holiday or something I was in rehab somewhere anyway.

I am mailing this tomorrow, but no matter what day it gets there, if it gets there before, I want it to get posted the night before Thanksgiving, because I know that is the time when I will probably be thinking a lot about what I am missing on Thanksgiving, and maybe some of you will be too. So this is for all of us.

I see that a lot of mothers of inmates have been the ones that send me comments. A couple have told me I make them think of their own sons and daughters. When I think of my own mother I hope she is going to have a really good day tomorrow. I hope she cooks up a big turkey and all the sides and that she knows I would give anything to be there, heaping up my plateful. I hope after the meal there is nothing but huesos left (that is bones for those of you who don’t speak Spanish.). And I hope somebody helps do the dishes. I hope all of you do the same, and don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for us, your kids that are in prison. We are all OK.

Here in county nobody has said much but I am pretty sure we will get some kind of Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. And I also figure it more than likely isn’t going to be anything like the meals we are all missing at home. But it’s alright.

I for one don’t want to think about what got me here or what I am missing out on but more about what is going to get me back to the other side. I am going to be thankful I am given this opportunity to set new goals for myself and to spend some time getting right. I am thankful that by the time I get out of here I am going to be an uncle, and that my sister is feeling and doing good. I am thankful that I have at least a few people that have remembered I still exist and who care about me. I am thankful I have everything I need already, and now I have a chance to learn what to do with it.

I hope you all have something in mind to be thankful for too.

Happy Thanksgiving and Peace ~ Magnum

A fellow inmate reaches out

Today is the 17th of November, and it is a great day! The reason it is such a great day is that last night a fellow prisoner here at the county jail reached out. For the sake of this post, I am going to call him “Ali”. Ali and I were  just sitting around, and laughing with the guys.

Anyway, I went back over to my bunk, deciding to call it a night. I was just getting ready to go to sleep, when Ali surprises me by saying “Man, it suck’s that you’re leaving already.” At first I was a little confused by his comment, so I asked him why. He responded by telling me he hadn’t ever heard anyone be so open and candid about their addiction, and that he had wanted to talk about his own addiction with me. So, I invited him to sit and talk for awhile.

He told me about his addiction to meth as well as many other substances. He told me how embarrassed he was about being an addict, and he asked me, “Magnum, why aren’t you ashamed or embarrassed of your addiction? You seem so open about it.”

I told him that I am not ashamed of my addiction, but that I am ashamed of many of my actions that came about due to my addiction. I also told him that I am not embarrassed by the fact that I was shooting up, as I don’t think I would be the me I am today if I didn’t have those experiences. And, that I couldn’t be where I am spiritually and mentally at this point, if it wasn’t for that part of my life. I told him for me, my addiction doesn’t have to be a dark secret, but instead a learning tool or a spiritual tool that has helped me.

All in all, the conversation gave me such a good feeling. It is hard to explain, but I felt a true joy to listen to someone else, and to have them express that it felt good to talk about it with someone honestly, and to have them thank me for that. It was a conversation that also helped me express some thoughts that I had floating around in my head, and once I put them together and said them out loud, it reassured me that I am going in the right direction.

I just thank God so much for these types of small gifts he gives us. And, I am grateful that I am at a point where I can recognize this sort of random conversation as the gift that it is. I hope that all of you can have the experience of sharing with another what is inside your heart today or sometime soon, and that you find it as gratifying as I did.

Peace ~ Magnum

The things I miss on the outside

Today I woke up thinking about what to write. “How can I inspire people?” I thought. While I sat there thinking hard, I realized that not every blog post has to be insightful and not every thing needs to have special meaning. So maybe today I will just write about myself and some of what goes through my head these days.

I’ve never been one to worry about the reason I am on this planet, I usually tend to just let the world carry me like a leaf in the wind. The truth is that’s probably why I am in jail and headed to prison, or one of the contributing reasons.

I find myself wondering sometimes, if I would have planned my life a little better would things have come out any better at this point? I really don’t know and don’t expect to know and this is exactly why I don’t like to think about these things. A “possibility war” starts to break out in my head.

Things I do know for sure is that I miss the sun, and so many of the simple things I took for granted a few months ago. A slow drive down River Road on a nice day. The sound of the river while sitting on the bank on a moonlit night. The way my dog loves me and is always happy to see me, no matter what. Or the sun setting on the lake late in the day.

Saying that I think of a song Jason Boland sings. He says “No matter how big the storms… the sun is shining somewhere down in Texas.”

I feel that right now I am in a storm in Texas. A lot of us are, those of us inside and outside too. I gotta work hard to get to that sun, but if I manage that, then soon I’ll see “The rays of light … makin’ me wanna turn the key and put down the throttle and get lost down 35.”

Peace be with you all ~ Magnum

Thank you for reaching out

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this blog site. I have received your messages and I want you to know that you all help me more than you can imagine. I have never been complimented on my thoughts so much. I always thought that what I had to say didn’t have any worth, but you all are helping me to believe in myself and my recovery.

To everyone who is struggling with drugs or who knows and loves somebody who is suffering, I want to let you know that even when things seem at their lowest, things can and do get better. I am in jail, headed to prison, some might consider this a low point in my life but my lowest was when I was out on the street using and feeling so much shame. Now I feel I am growing.

If any of you would like to write me a personal letter I would be happy to receive it and read what you have to say and learn what your story is. I truly believe that recovery cannot be done alone so let’s do it together and grow.

My whole life I have always been a giver, sometimes giving the wrong things and in the wrong ways, but I have always wanted to help when I saw someone needed something. Now I know that with a little kindness and an open heart I can help others and help myself too.

Peace, Love and Noodles ~ Magnum

The Prison Museum in Huntsville, Texas

From the Editor:
No new post from Texas Magnum today, but I ran across this site:
www.txprisonmuseum.org

Isn’t that something, a Museum devoted to Texas Prisons, in Huntsville. You can even purchase an engraved paving stone and become a patron. The museum has a bookstore that has quite a variety of prison related reads, including “Meals To Die For“, a book about Death Row inmates’ last meal requests and the recipes.

I don’t know about you, but when and if I am in East Texas,  the Prison Museum will not be on my list of things to see. I have a feeling that hearing about it first hand from Texas Magnum is going to be more than enough prison lore to last me a lifetime.

I am a convicted felon – A sad day of reflection for me

To the world:

Today is the 28th of October, 2010. Just 4 days ago I signed papers at my court arraignment which convict me to 4 years in Texas Department of Corrections. It is a date I will remember for the rest of my life – the 24th day of October.

Truthfully it was one of the most relieving yet sad feelings I have ever experienced. Relieved because I know now what to look forward to, and have at least a rough idea of a date of release. It’s also very sad to me though. Sad because this isn’t what I wanted for my family or for myself. Sad because it takes me going to prison to take a look at myself.

It’s inconceivable to me now, but when I think about these past couple of years, I always had this strange desire to go to prison, out of curiosity and something more. I always wanted to be the cool guy or the bad-ass in the crowd. Somehow I thought the excesses with drugs made me the bad-ass. I guess I thought going to prison was going to make me a bad-ass too. Now I see that going to prison doesn’t make you the bad-ass, it makes you the jackass.

What I have already had time to learn here in these past 3 months is that what makes a guy the bad-ass in prison is how you carry yourself. Not in the way that might seem obvious, but in the way that you can choose to go against the grain and do what you should have been doing all along. The bad-ass in prison is the man who comes out a changed man. Changed in the ways you should be.

I can’t expect the State of Texas to reform me into the man my family needs. It’s up to me and only me to become a real man. I don’t expect to become perfect, or not ever to fall, but even if I fall down or stumble there is always tomorrow or even the rest of that day to do right.

Peace to you all ~ Magnum

Fights over the TV in jail – Small things change a man

Today is Saturday and of course, a fight almost broke out due to the TV, and most likely there will be a fight tonight as well.

A circumstance like this truly makes me think about the differences in inmates and how we decide to carry ourselves. On one side you have a type of man who has the mindset that prison was made for reacting. When I say reacting I mean that they react out on instinct and fear when a confrontation arises. They react with their fists first, not with their mind and heart. I believe that some men just cannot swallow their pride, and cannot be OK with not being the big man, the one with the final say so.

Of course, in here you can’t let yourself get preyed on but you don’t have to fight if you don’t want, especially if you are not in danger. Who is the bigger man, the one who raises his fist or the one who prays for the other? My opinion is the one who prays for the other. It is easier said than done, but just as I decided to start a blog today, I also have to decide to grow, one step at a time.

I believe that even the small things change a man. You may see many inmates keep their personal areas a mess, so start by cleaning yours, and keeping it clean. This way you practice discipline. When someone angers you, pray for the individual. This way you can practice a little humility. These are the things I have personally decided to do, and I feel that these small things will help me in my journey of not returning to this place called prison.

As they say, “Life’s a trip” so I might as well enjoy the ride. There is no reason in me being miserable any more. Today is a new day, and another day that I’m going to say “yes I can.”

Peace be with you all,
Magnum Edit/Delete Message