Stories from the Inside

Incarceration19nov19

 

Stories from the Inside

 

Inmates serving at the Bureau of Prisons, Devens MA came to Anna Maria College on November 19th to share their personal accounts about life on the street and what led them to incarceration. Accompanied by Commander Robyn Coons, LICSW, social worker at Devens, the inmates spoke about the challenges they faced with addiction, attempted recovery, setbacks, and lost opportunities. They also spoke in depth about the power of reflection, which all believe is critical to dealing with the consequences of their actions.

 

“Acceptance is a critical part of the process. Self-reflection in particular; everything that caused me to be here is because of me. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my actions”, said an inmate currently serving a term of 176 months in federal prison. “Relapsing is easy so you’ve got to give recovery the time it’s due; shortchanging the process is disastrous.”

 

Each inmate spoke about their downfall in detail, but they also spoke about the value of counseling and lessons learned including personal accountability, improved decision-making, and most important, understanding the impact that their behavior had on their families. When one of the inmates spoke of resolving problems, he was very quick to say, “Use your support systems – don’t attempt it on your own. Talking with others isn’t a sign of weakness.”

 

incarceration body pic

 

The visiting inmates are part of a program that enables them to share their difficult stories in different venues as part of their own recovery, as well as preventing others from making similar mistakes. Students from across campus attended this presentation and when asked about what they learned, shared some interesting observations, including the following:

 

  • The stories have strongly influenced me and empowered me to help support people who deserve a chance to succeed and overcome their obstacles.
  • This program has the capability to change someone’s life and prevent someone from making a life changing mistake. There should be more programing like this, because it can be so beneficial.
  • I appreciate that the speakers brought in today were very open about their stories. We can only learn from honest, reflective individuals. Programs like this one expose students to important realities in life.
  • Although these four men have committed crimes, I understand their side of the story and I feel empathy for them. A lot of their problems were derived from a rough childhood. “Nature versus nurture” has a lot to do with taking the path down the wrong road.

 

This unique and thought-provoking presentation and discussion was sponsored by Anna Maria College’s Social Work Programs and The Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly.

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