There are many times that I look back over my life and shake my head, not only because of the traumatic experiences, but also because of my warped way of thinking. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but I still understood right from wrong.
Because of the abuse I suffered, I knew what the consequences would be if I did wrong. Therefore, I learned to be “slick.” I did my best to master the concept of “the right way to do the wrong thing.” I never wanted to experience the humiliation of jail, so when I did wrong, I would talk others into doing the brunt of the dirt. We can all see how that turned out.
I thought I was doing most of what I did to survive, but in the end I only further entangled myself with drugs, alcohol, the gang life and, believe it or not, depression. The gang life never really meant that much to me, but weed, alcohol and pills gave me meaning. They became my way out, my source of escapism. If I couldn’t leave the world permanently, I could mentally.
Something too I soon realized was that if I volunteered to do enough stuff, people thought I was down. This caused them to want me around. Instead of letting others do all the work, I started to put myself on the “front line.” I finally felt needed, and these people became my loved ones. I only have myself to blame for my misplaced loyalty and insecurities.
Today, I stand as a man who has gained a great deal of insight. After tapping into my spiritual self through embracing Islam, I began to change my thought patterns. I started to understand my behavior for what it was — immoral and abnormal. No matter what my environment presented me with, there were always better decisions to be made than the ones I chose. As I changed, I got into college and began to do self-help groups.
Getting into ARC (Anti-Recidivism Coalition) has sped my change along. Seeing brothers who were in my same predicament get out, stay out, and then come back to assist us, has opened my eyes to hope. I’ve seen with my own eyes what change and “putting in the work” can do.
I’m not just doing this to get out but to be the man that society, my family, friends, children and I, myself, deserve.
John F. K. Dozier Jr. Calipatria State Prison
KidCAT really appreciates you sharing your life experience. It’s important for all of us to connect through storytelling so that we can learn from one another.
You are well on your way to figuring yourself out. It’s an ongoing process — a lifelong journey toward self-awareness. Your spirituality has definitely contributed to your success. Always be on the lookout for the people around you who can benefit from your progress and insight. None of us live in a bubble. We need to be there for each other.
Whether you realize it or not, you are part of our whole community, and we need you to continue stepping up and being there to support others. It’d be great for you to someday become an ARC guy and come back inside prisons to help, wouldn’t it?