"I have only one skill, and I am damn good at it." Were the words of the inmates mouth. The 40 something scraggily hair, unkept clothing, and a traces of a goatee then went on to say- "the only thing I can do well is cook meth." "Last time I was out, I tried to stay clean. I got a job for $7 an hour and then some of my old buddies found me. They dropped the ingredients for meth on my table and said just make it this one time for us. We know how good you are and no one comes close to cooking it up like you. So I did it, and then they sold some of it. The other clients were hooked, they wanted more. My buddies came back to my house laid $3,000 on my table and said give us all you have. That lured me right back in."
He then asked "how can I stay away from this lure?"
He knows the consequences of what happens if he doesn't. He is going to be a fifty something when he is done serving his time in prison.
I am asked on a weekly basis - do these guys really want to change? When I looked in the mans eyes into his soul I could see the desire. But I wouldn't bet a huge amount of money that he will change. The lure is to great. He is not going to do anything better than a $7-$10 an hour job. His best skill is creating an illegal substace. How does that transfer into making his life better?
Doc piped up at this point in time in the class. "I was good at what I did also. I robbed banks. I was taught by a professional and that was my skill. But you know what else I am good at? We all looked and could only imagine what the next words would be. I am good at washing dishes. I don't care what I have to do I am not coming back to prison."
Change is so hard for all of us, but for people who have made a lifestyle of illegal activity it so difficult to change. I asked yesterday how many guys had held a legitimate job before? Almost all of them raised their hands. But selling drugs, pimping woman, robbing banks, doing who knows what else makes much more money than a legitimate job.
Sacrificing the temporal for long term is hard for most of us. Discipline and deciding to forgo the short term money for long term success is a hard decision for most of these incarcarated men.
Most of them will go back to what they were doing, even though many have found God in a meaningful way. The draw is too strong, the alternatives are much to hard.
I don't have a whole lot of solutions, there are things that would need to happen on a large scale level to change what happens in our inner cities and the culture that these men grow up in.
There would need to be changes in individual middle class lives and changes in our culture also.
I am beginning to see more and more patterns emerge from men I meet in prison. Choosing a path of crime is a normal occurance in their families and friends. For the most of us we don't know criminals, most of our family members go to college have jobs and live fairly normal. Doing illegal activity is not really an option that we entertain. We don't see this modeled.
Recently I observed a man running from the police and hiding in his home. His kids were there to see it. This now becomes an option for them, whether conciously or sub consciously running from the police is an ok act because my father figure did it.
I am naive and I continue to learn and see how people grew up differently than me and how it does effect there long term outlook on life.
At the end of class the meth cook with hope in his eyes asked me do you know people who could give me clothes, help me find a job, or feed me after I get out? I had to laugh because I wondered is this man asking me or is Jesus asking me.