Prison Pete

Monday, June 25, 2007
One of my valued readers made a comment about a lack of emotional connection in my writing.

While there are some areas that I do not feel able to share in this forum, I want to spend some time putting forth the point that I exist in an environment that while in theory claims to benefit those inmates that do strive to better themselves and stay out of trouble, it is in practice the exact opposite.

What ends up happening is that while there are certainly consequences for bad behavior and there are enough rules to break, the system responds to those occurrences and deals with them, but the ones that are lifting themselves up bit by bit do so with little or no help from the system.

One example of this is the food served here. While on the whole as I left Club Fed they were working their food plan to less original meat; pork chops, roast beef, sausages etc., you still were able to fill up on salads, beans and other vegetables. At breakfast you could have all the milk you wanted.

Here in the NY State Prison System, all items are portion controlled, and the main filler food is of the starch variety, white rice or potatoes. I know that if I limit myself to eating only what is served at the mess hall, my cholesterol raises, I feel somewhat less sharp intellectually and while I might lose a few pounds, I end up feeling weak and tired and do even less physically.

Were it not for the financial support I receive from Mom and Dad, I would not be able to keep on my high protein, low fat diet. Without the outside support, I would not have all the books I read, the typewriter, the blog, my keyboard etc., etc., etc.

The point I will be dissecting is at what point do you say to a person incarcerated, okay, show us how you are going to be a law abiding citizen when you get out.

If you are of the thought, look, you broke the law, though, you are still alive, we are throwing you away. Then why not just kill us all now and be done with us?

Okay that is a little over the top, but now that I have written that, let me calm down and say, at some point it the prison system should begin to say okay we have punished you now let us work on lifting you up. We all need to have someone in our life to let us know we matter.

Here in prison and somewhat more so than my experience while at Club Fed, if you have no contact with the outside world you are left floating in a place with very little emotional support or even activities that you can do to lift yourself up.

Please do not start posting comments about no one but ourselves put us in prison. This is true. One of the many questions I would like to throw out there is what happens once you put someone in prison.

One of the inmates I work with was talking about how this was his fifth prison sentence. He is not a stupid person, has a supportive family on the outside, but obviously his time spent in this taxpayer financed secure locations has not changed his behavior in ways that would keep him out of here.

One major difference between the Federal and NY State system is the view on weight lifting. In the federal system they are working toward a recreation program that all but outlaws any muscle building activity with the exception of cardio type exercise.

The newer federal prisons will not only have no weights of any kind, even chin up bars and incline benches are not being provided. Here in NY not only do they have a full shed of weights and exercise bars, one of the few organized contest is a power-lifting contest.

There is a sizable portion of the inmate population that gear their recreation schedule to which set of muscles they are working on which day and then come back after the workouts and spend their time flexing and posing in the bathroom mirrors.

This last part is not all that coherent and is not the last work I want to write on these issues, I have just wanted to get back to putting something meaty back on the blog and hope if nothing else this will get me going.

If you want to add your two cents feel free, but please I am not writing this to evoke a Pete Pity Party. Please do not dump on me, I am hoping to be able to provide a broad critique of the system and not solely focus on my personal plight in the system.

This is just the beginning, and hopefully the follow-up to this post will be more coherent and insightful.

Thanks for reading the blog and go out and enjoy life.
O.k. here's my two cents. I think rehabilitation is a good thing and it should be improved within the prison systems. At the same time, however, you have to realize that there are some that will never have the desire to be rehabilitated and will never change like the guy that is serving his 5th sentence. There are going to be a few exceptions, but I'm sure it's difficult to determine those that are (according to the gvt) worth spending rehab money on.
But I also think that those that work hard by themselves (like Pete) will manage well once they get out because they already have the innate desire in them regardless of whether or not the system helps build that up or not. It is a shame, yes, but I know it's difficult for taxpayers and spenders to warrant spending extra money on rehab programs that would also offer that extra ounce of emotional support.
I'm not going to say "You made your bed so lie in it." There are going to be those that do deserve to simply be punished, but there are a few that should be rehabilitated because despite being punished, they are going to make the choice to be productive citizens if/when they are released. Question is where do you draw the line?
Hi Pete. I've enjoyed reading your blog for the last few weeks. I can actually relate in a way. I have a brother who has been incarcerated about 4 or maybe 5 times in the last 26 years of his life (ever since he was 21 yrs old). I know people won't believe me when I say he's "not a bad person", but truth is, he's not. He's never hurt anyone other than himself. He's not a violent person either. The prison system in Texas, in my opinion, is not geared to rehabilitate the prisoner. My brother serves his time quietly, without any disipline actions, comes out into the free world and doesn't know how to "live". He has anxiety attacks because of the traffic on the roadways, he hasn't a real clue how a bank account works, let alone a "debit card" or "check card". He violates his parole by not paying his parole officer or writing a couple of hot checks. Something real dumb, I know, but we're talking about a person who has been locked up and the outside world just passes him by. But ask him about "law" and he can tell you anything you want to know! The system has a law library that the prisoners frequent. I believe, if they spent more of our taxpayer money on how to live in the "outside world", our prisoners wouldn't revert back to old ways and go back time and time again. My family is very supportive of my brother, and we try to "teach" him the things we take for granted everyday. But sometimes it's just too much for him to handle. Do you understand? What are your views on this subject? What do the prisons in NY do to prepare the prisoner for living on the "outside"? In my brother's case, its hard for him to even get a job. He has a job now working as a plumber's helper. He earns $8.50 per hour. I ask you, who can live on $8.50 per hour? He can't afford his own place. He has to live with parents. His income does not provide him enough to live on his own, not even for basic necessities... food, transportation, rent, gasoline, utilities, etc. If it were not for my parents, where would he be? I just wish our prison system spent more money on "true rehabilitation" rather than "just housing" the fellas.
I know there will be some who read this that say... well he commited a crime, let him do the time. And you will never understand the frustration of our prison sytem until it affects you personally.
Thanks, Pete, for letting me get this off of my chest. I feel better having done it.
Make the best of your day.
ok...I have been reading this for some time now and struggling with my inner self. 1. My daughter, son and I were all victims of my ex-husband who went to prison for his crimes. To me, they should have saved the tax payers money and put him down for what he did. My family still struggles to this day with the aftermath this monster left behind. So, 2. With me not knowing why Pete is in prison, it is hard for me. Yes, some have made wrong decisions in life and deserve a second chance, but others...others who have taken a life willingly, or harmed a child or some other horrible act....I feel pete owes us an answer as to what he has done. I for one feel that if he has done a crime against a child and somehow I get involved with his blog and then find out at a later date...I would be a victim all over again.
I'm sorry, but I have no room in my heart for certain crimes. I know it is wrong in Gods eyes for me to be that way and I have prayed over and over again for God to help me to find forgiveness, but everytime my daughter goes through a drinking binge or I see her undermining herself, I want the man who is to blame dead.
It has been 13 long years trying to survive what this man has done to my family and I just don't want to be douped by another con.
I'm sorry pete, I do agree, everyone does deserve mercy and love, but they also deserve honesty in return. The people out here deserve the right to know what the are getting themselves into.
You don't have to tell us who you are. There are thousands of criminals out there who I'm sure are guilty of the same type of crimes or crimes you have committed, so telling us what you did will not give up your identity.
We deserve the right of choice. You owe us honesty. You are asking us to invest something of ourselves by reading your blog. to lend part of us to you, you in turn should do the same.
I want to know what you did. I want to know are you sorry about it. I want to know if you feel bad for your victims. I want to know if you are able to be rehabiltated. Maybe if you can't get the rehabilation you need in the prison, maybe you can get it through this blog, but it seems to me your only gonna get it if you are willing to open up and talk about it. Then maybe, just maybe once you do you can take copies of this blog to your next parole hearing and you can show them proof of how you are rehabilatated and how you did it on your own. Dee the parole board wants to know if you are sorry and if you admit what you did wrong. They want to know that if they release you back out here that you are not going to indanger another living sole, and if you can show them that you have worked through it with this blog and have been juged by your peers out here and have been forgiven by us, with us knowing fully what you have done. You might just have a chance. yes, it is a risk for you, but aren't you all ready asking us to take a risk in trusting you with our emotions without ever knowing what you have done?
After reading the comment by "Vital", I tend to agree. We do need to know what crime you committed. I don't want to be made a fool of. Your rehabilitation depends on your honesty... that's part of it, you know?
So come on, what did you do?
I don't think Pete should have to tell you what he did. By doing so, he will face even more judgment than he already is by his friends and family. This is his place to share what he wants and I can understand his desire to keep his crime out of the blog. You have a choice to read or not. You can choose based on not knowing his crime. If you really want to know, write him personally. I know what he did but I still respect him as a person because he is human like all of us. It isn't about him being dishonest in his blog... he simply chooses to not share certain information and we should respect that. I don't share everything in my blog either. Do you? Would you share something that would cause your readers to judge you? None of us are perfect so read or don't read, but don't demand more of Pete than he his willing to share.
Anna, I do agree that a blog is a place where you can get away...a safe haven at times. No, most people do not put things in their blogs that will cause other to judge them, but most others do not title their blog"Prison Pete". He has openly stated that he wants interaction from us, with him being in prison one has to be a little more careful. He is asking us to lend ourselves to him blindly. Yes, when you meet a person at work or at a social gathering you do not ask for a full list of details of their life, but then you aren't meeting them in a prison. To just blindly lend yourself to a person who straight out says he is in prison without an explanation as to what he did to get there could be dangerous. Yes, I know I could write "Pete", but then that is giving him an address I do not feel comfortable with, with out knowing what he did. I do not feel that every person in prison should be thrown away. I feel there are very good deserving people in prison that need a second chance and a hand reached out to them. But, I feel strongly that before I do so I want to be forearmed to know to whom I am reaching out to.
I will reach my hand into a cage to pet a cat, but I want to know it's a cat and not a tiger. Yes, I have the choice to read or not read. When I came across this blog it peeked my interest as to, What is this person about? I wanted to know if he was a person who had made bad decisions and needed a second chance. I also wanted to know what he is up to incase he is not a changed man and is somehow conning the public again. There is a certain risk involved here inter acting with "Pete" not knowing if he is a changed man or if he is some one that can be saved and knowing what he has done and how he feels about it gives us a foresight into that. yes, I'm sure he is tired of being judged all the time, but that is part of the crime he committed. It is now the burden he must carry till he proves and in some cases continues to prove himself to others. No it is not fair, but it is part of his crime. He is in prison. He is not in jail which means what he did is somewhat serious and one must be somewhat cautious while interacting with "Pete" especially if you do not know what he has done. Yes, I am somewhat cycnical about "pete", but I have had the misfortune to have been married to a very mythodical man who harmed my children and me, which makes me very leary of this and feel obligated to make others aware of what they are getting themselves into without prior knowledge of what this man has done. If he had not titled his blog "Prison Pete" and asked for interaction from us, I would not inquire to what he had done. The whole reason he is in prison is to isolate him from the public. There is usually good reason for this. I just want everyone to be careful. Think smart. Protect yourself. Yes, feel free to read and comment, but do so without dropping your guard.
Then read at your own risk. I, too, was wary about him at first, but not knowing his crime didn't keep me from reading. I am not afraid of Pete or him having my address. But then again, I've met his editor in person and I've had more background than others that read the blog.

I will say that Pete is not going to divulge what he did in this blog. You'll have to take him for what he has written and decide for yourself if you want to keep reading. Does Pete deserve to be in prison for what he did? Yes. Do I think he is dangerous? No. I think that just by reading his blog you can gather that. Despite being targeted and beaten up in prison, he has never retaliated nor "tattled" on others in prison. He is an intelligent man that is simply lonely. He does have his faults, but I don't think there's a risk in simply reading his blog and commenting. You can do that without knowing his crime.
Annabell, I took my time in commenting again cause I wanted to make sure I say this right. I think you are a lovely person and I often read your blog.My intenetion here was not to offend you or anyone else. I just seen a few red flags and felt the need to point them out. I personally wanted to know if this man was a child molestor or conning unsuspecting individuals in some way. I want people to be smart and protect themselves while interacting with this man. Don't let your guard down. I am still very leary of this man, and I may or may not read his blog in the future. I haven't made up my mind on this as of yet.
Vital - I am in no way offended. I understand your concerns and red flags and you'll have to work through them or not. I don't feel threatened in having contact with Pete, but I can understand why you would be concerned by not knowing his crime. It's good that you are a cautious person. I might have felt the same way had I not been in personal contact with his editor which made a difference for me. Regardless... thanks for reading my blog - I appreciate it! I've been reading yours as well.
I am bowing out....The different point of views Annabel and I have, have unfortunately left this blog and entered another. I will no longer comment here or visit here again. I wish you well Annabel. My first posting was not written or aimed at you. I'm sorry you felt such a need to protect "Pete" from my comments and thoughts. Apparently they are not welcomed here.
keep your chin up Pete. I will be coming back. It is very easy for others who don't have the struggles to live a good life, and I have found that those that do live a good life do not understand the lives of others who are not as lucky.
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