Shannon Clark is one of my closest prison friends. Inspired by Jon's Jail Journal, he started his own blog, Persevering Prison Pages. The prison authorities ordered Shannon to stop blogging, but he bravely refused. To punish him, they made his life extremely difficult by moving him to a different prison every few months during the last year of his incarceration. In this guest blog, Shannon speaks out about his progress in society in the last year.
Throughout my prison time in ADOC, I was told that I wouldn't make it in society and that I'd be back. I was even told by fellow prisoners that a couple of guards gave me less than a week before I would return to prison. It was common for the guards (and many prisoners) to predict how long people getting out would be out before violating parole and returning. Not all staff felt this way but many did. Very discouraging to hear when you're inside preparing to be released and trying to prepare yourself for reintegrating into society.
Sadly, I saw far too many guys coming back while I was inside. Most for basic parole violations, like failure to secure a residence or job, and dirty urine tests. Some committed new crimes, getting longer sentences. I can only wonder if these guys could have made it had they gotten positive influences and encouragement while inside.
I was given less than a week before I would violate parole. It has now been nearly eight months since I was transported to my parole office as a Maximum Custody Prisoner (incorrectly classified and corrected by my Parole Officer the day I was released). I own my own home (outright) in the middle of the wilderness, own my own sports utility vehicle (outright), own my own 2010 all-terrain vehicle (outright), have three dogs, I am married to a beautiful Irish woman, have a son on the way (Christmas baby), pay taxes, pay costs of supervision, report in to my Parole Officer monthly, have passed all of my urine tests, have traveled around the state of Arizona checking out the sights, have awesome friends, I am writing a book and working on my art (in my own home studio) and love my life and future. There's been a lot of hard times. I work through them with my wife and friends.
I've been asked what I'd like to say to those who doubted and discouraged me now. I'd like to say that I hope that my success can open your eyes to the possibility that not everybody in prison is doomed and that you shouldn't rely on statistics of recidivism to judge what's going to happen with a release. I have defied statistics multiple times since my release in January.
To those being released or just released... please disregard what people may have said about your future of re-incarceration, relapse, etc. Set your mind to succeed and don't let anybody decide your future.
Here are some YouTube videos of conversations I had with Shannon shortly after his release about his prison blogging:
Please keep up to date with Shannon at his blog Persevering Prison Pages.