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“Martin” Journal Entries

“MARTIN” Journal Entry #1

November 9, 2007

When I was asked to participate in an open discussion with several law students from the University at Buffalo School of Law, my unwillingness at first was one of misrepresentation. Who are these people? Why here at Attica? With all the negative accusations surrounding this place, from an inmate perspective, this definitely won’t be a positive dialog because these young people have already been brain washed somewhat into believing that all prisoners are scum, rotten, corrupt, just to name a few choice words I’ve heard over the years.

But that disinclined feeling soon diminished once I knew that the professor who was organizing this panel was one I had the pleasure of speaking with a couple of years ago. Her thirst in wanting to understand the absolute truth about prison, in all aspects, mentally, emotionally, etc. It gave me a feeling of confidence. Honesty and understanding that these conversations will be told truthfully.

The first encounter with these students has given me a sense of awareness that there are people who are truly concerned about the system from the outside looking in. Now, when Newton first spoke, my mind wandered for just a moment because I though”I heard him say, “he was a belly dancer”, but when I realized that he said ballet, classical dance, a young man born in Maryland, joined the Peace Corps, taught English here in the States as well as in China, earned his Master degree, has an interest in Interstate Trade, very intelligent young man. Then there’s Siena. Canada born. Study Criminal Justice, Immigration is what she wants to truly study. She had a misconception about prison in the States, lock em up, throw away the key attitude. Wants to work within the communities. Then Lisa spoke, soft spoken, young lady, born in Connecticut. Studies Criminal Justice, tutor in New York City, also studying economics. She definitely has a good sense of awareness when she related a story about African elephants. The other two grad. students are journalists. Never spoke about themselves so I assume that may be the next session that I’ll learn more about them. For me that willl be interesting to know their thoughts about prison and the changing of law’s affecting this state, country.

Why is Communicating about Prison so Difficult?

For a person to fully understand my opinion, I would have to compare the past, with the present being that I’ve been locked up for the past 28 years. I believe its difficult because between 1979-1992 the system was pushing rehabilitation in all forms, educational, vocational, a person was eager in his quest for knowledge. Now it is about punishment. That is the main theme. Society does not want to hear about an inmate who has spent the last 20 years in prison has received, through studying hard, his G.E.D. to his Bachelors, or Masters Degree. He has ascertained several trades that will definitely help once returning to society. But the only words or phrases you would hear coming from the media is that he now knows how to commit a crime without getting caught. Society does not want to hear about the success story. Only when they commit another crime then communication starts. Before that, society turns a blind eye. Mum’s the word. To the conditions the “I don’t give a damn attitude”. It’s sad that people feel that because its not them, it doesn’t matter. When its family, then they will understand.

The cost of incarceration: I believe that one will never know the true cost here in the State. Financially, mentally, emotionally, physically that’s a whole different aspect. The mental state of one who has to deal with the degrading name calling, the thought of never going home, by the hands of an officer or a feeling of betrayal by a fellow inmate that would put his life in danger. How do you console a person who has just lost a family member to a violent death considering that he is serving time for committing a violent act towards someone elses family. Emotionally I would say he pays dearly for being incarcerated. Seeing others being abused sexually and the destructive behavior of the officers is a cost that one will never, ever understand.

Do we influence each other? I would like to believe so.



1. Julie - December 4, 2007

Your comments are very interesting. I saw the video and really wish that the conversation could have been part of it. But it is good to be able to read your comments and thoughts. I hope you and the group continue to meet and exchange perspectives.

2. unknown - December 7, 2007

I know that not ALL people that go to jail are there for VERY bad reasons, it’s just that some were in the wrong place at the very wrong time. When I hear people brag about there cousins goin 2 jail for doing wrong things and that if you mess with that certain person they may not care if they go back again, it just puts a bad perspective on how they see life. Life is very short. To all you inmates that think that life is a given it’s not I believe in those that believe in themselves.

3. unknown - December 8, 2007

People may think that criminals go to jail because of their state of mind or their their conscience telling them that what they’re doing at the time is right, but what really goes on in you head when you committed that crime? I’m not trying to put you’ll down, it’s just that I’m wondering how you could go to jail and still be brave enough to talk about it.

4. Mike - March 1, 2009

Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

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