Facilitating Change for Successful Parole
Michael W. CMF
When I entered the Life Support Alliance’s R.I.S.E. class, I did not know what to expect. I am not a particular fan of groups. Although I believe, you get out of anything what you put in, groups only touch the surface of societies (and therefore the individuals who make up a society, i.e. inmates) problems and are mostly a means to learn things people will regurgitate to the board to try to be found suitable for parole.
So, it was refreshing to immediately see results from my experiences in RISE. I was impressed by R.I.S.E., from the first day in class, because of the emphasis on delving under the surface and getting to the root cause, of the factors that make the underground anti-social.
I had already been through juvenile camp, CYA, and prison on two other occasions. So, I had a large amount of time to reflect (I spent a lot of time in the hole also) and read extensively, during my stints incarcerated. But RISE showed me in Week 2 that there was a method to my madness or at least a pattern that I have been following without deviation. If I did not get anything else out of the group, Connecting the Dots would be invaluable.
I am an avid reader, who has spent a considerable amount of time on self-reflection and believed that I understood what made me tick, until I took. R.I.S.E. This class has shown me a method for excavating the sludge that made me anti-social and that I had a pattern to my misbehavior, that I was not aware of.
I learned that my causative factors begin from inception. That I had been exposed to violence for so long, that I adopted/adapted to aggression as a means of not only survival but as a primary tool to solve difficult circumstances in general. I also realized that I sought out isolation as a means of processing difficult circumstances in my life. And I had been doing this since I was 3 years old.
I learned that when I felt overwhelming pressure that aggression was my first go-to, and isolation was the solace or relief I ultimately strove for. Just knowing or learning this about myself was a game changer for me.
Although RISE is primarily a preparation for Board, what I learned in this class has prepared me for life going forward. Furthermore, I like how we are held accountable for our participation through our homework. Most groups, all you have to do is show up. With R.I.S.E., even if you don’t want to look inside, in order to complete the class, you have to. I am thankful for R.I.S.E. and the obvious concern of the counselors who share their time and commitment.
As crazy or counter-intuitive as it may sound for a person serving life in prison my main concern is not convincing the board that I no longer pose a threat to society and I have my stuff together, my main goal is to become a better human being and be in a position to help others that thought as I did in the past. My experience with RISE helped me along that journey when I began to connect the dots.
I thank Vanessa and Dave for their obvious and palpable interest in helping us. From my perspective it is greatly appreciated.