The ECHO, Volume 83, Number 2, March 2011 Page: 3
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March 2011 The ECHO 3
To those of you who are trusties, I
would like to say congratulations. Most
offenders are chosen to work in TDCJ
because we have a strong working back-
ground and have no problem pitching in
to help where help is needed. After all,
it's no one else's fault but our own for be-
ing here. Doing our work assignments
in TDCJ is our responsibility, and if it's
gonna get done, it's up to all of us to do
our part. Those of you who are apathetic
in your job should do the rest of us a fa-
vor and lay it down. Make way for a more
mature person to take your spot.
In closing, I'd like to point out to ev-
eryone that if you're worthless in here,
you're going to be worthless out there.
So grow up and contribute somewhere.
Besides, the only way to make that clock
tick faster is to get up and stay busy.
Excellent point! It's about time someone
out there addressed the fact that having
a sound work ethic in prison is not tan-
tamount to being institutionalized. I've
always believed that anyone who came to
prison with a sound work ethic should fight
hard to keep it. It's all too easy to absorb this
prison ethic, which essentially says, "I ain't
gonna work hardfor these folks!" While this
may help some sleep better at night, it will
virtually guarantee their return trip to this
place if they try to incorporate it in the real
work-a-day world. The idea that laziness
can be left behind, like a radio or a fan,
when you leave is just ridiculous.
So congratulations to you, R.J., for not
only having a sound work ethic, but having
the courage to voice it. Bravo!
This past weekend, I was finally able to
visit with my daughter (age 16), who I
hadn't seen in five years. She has grown
into a smart, beautiful, young lady.
I have been in prison since she was six
years old, so I've missed out on some very
precious and tough years of her life. The
four-hour visit went fairly well, as I did
my best to answer some hard questions
she had about the past and our future-
which will begin at my release in four
Because of the vast amount of informa-
tion that is on the Internet, she is very
well-informed on many issues. There-
fore, when she asked me the toughest
question of all, she had her facts straight.
She said, "I understand you are in high
security housing due to being a member
of a disruptive group. I've read up on this
group and it seems they are not only evil
but a baud of cut-throats, drug addicts
and killers. Why would you be part of
this group?" My first response was the
one we all use here in prison: "We are a
family." But she was on top of it. She
asked, "Family like we were before you
left us, or family like we are now?" As
I sat there and stupidly fumbled for the
right answer, she said, "I know what you
think this group is about. You think it's
going to advance who you are as a per-
son, make you a better criminal, or give
you the right connections to continue
with the criminal life you lead. Do you
plan on bringing this drama into my
life?" As I tried to justify my actions, she
gave me a look that seemed to say, "You
are a loser, Dad."
Before the visit was over, she had one
last thing to say. "Look, Dad, I know I
can't tell you what to do. But you need
to grow up, because the fact is you are too
old to be doing this at 41 years old. So
just think of me (your real family) as you
prepare for release, because I don't need
this group in my life. I need a dad."
Sounds like your daughter could do my
job as well as I can. Because there not a
whole lot I could add to her answer. I will
say thin wkmgk If/you don't take her ad-
vice, you're not thinking right.
Time...wow! How many of us actually
thought about time when we were in the
world? I mean, you think about it when
you have to go to work-for those of us
who actually had real jobs. You also think
about it whenever you need to be at a
specic place at a specific time. Other than
that, though, not so much.
In here, however, time is a part of our
lives. We know what time they count,
what time they change shifts, what time
rec is called, what time we have to be at
work, etc. In fact, we are all an integral
part of the time we are serving. Since time
in here is something we have more than
enough of, it would seem that using it to
make positive changes in ourselves would
improve our chances of succeeding when
we get out.
I see guys every day who waste the time
they have. They arc more than likely
going to contribute to the recidivism
statistics, because they just don't get it. I
hate this place. I hate it to the point that
I've made it personal in that I am trying to
do all I can to assure I have all of my bases
covered, thus lessening my chances of
returning. I want to be one of those who
gets out and stays out, and I'll do every-
thing I can to make that happen. T1his is
something we all should be striving for.
You can't make your loved ones proud of
you until you make yourself proud of you.
Being in here is nothing to be proud of
Succeeding in the world is!
imagine, if you will, a dayroom filled
with people who think the way you do.
Then imagine every dayroom on your unit
being like that. Then imagine every day-
room in the system being like that! How
long would it be before the Correctional In-
stitutional Division shrunk from the size it
is today to the size it once was? I've always
found it ironic that those who "wiisre the
time they have" often complain about how
large TDCJ has become and how they could
save money by closing units. As long as peo-
ple like that continue to feed the recidivism
monster, the size of this place will continue
to increase Wouldn't it be nice, though,
if attitudes like yours were as contagious
as these institutionalized attitudes seem to
be? You should try to infect your contempo-
raries with your positive attitude. Imagine
a world where every time a Jack Templer
left the wing, he was replaced by someone
who thought just like him. To quote the
late, great Louis Armstrong, "I think to my-
se6f what a wonderful world."
tO A, t'I 2T
I am on the Lane Murray hoe squad,
and November's article about exercise
increasing life expectancy and. quality of
life is so true. But being worked like a
stubborn mule, being bent over for four
hours, and swinging a three-foot grub-
bing hoe at a ten-foot solid oak tree isn't
increasing anything but pain in my lower
I am only 25 years young, and I don't
want to have permanent damage in my
back. I don't think it's worth it to go
home to my man with
What do you think?
Dear Back Breaker,
a broken back!
There's no needf]ryou to take any drastic
action. The solution to your problem is re-
ally quite simple: STRETCH!
I've heard on the news that there's been a
recent study thatfound stretching to be un-
necessary. I'm gonna go out on a limb here
and say that there were probably very few
elite athletes involved in that study. Because
no one can make me believe that someone
who runs world-class speed would ever
even consider getting in the blocks without
thoroughly stretching out first. If it's good
enough for a world-class athlete, its good
enough for you.
I think you'd be surprised at how much
muscular damage a goodse 'inreimen
can both prevent and repair. It's importan$,
though, to stretch out both beJbre and after
work. The best thing I've found to dofor the
back is simply bending over and grabbing
your ankles. If you can't reach them, bend
your knees. (You're trying to stretch out your
back, not your hamstrings, so your legs don't
need to be straight.) I would also suggest a
lot of neck stretching. I'm sure you can find
examples in one of the fitness books in your
library. If not, look for them in a future is-
sue of The ECHO.
With proper stretching, that hoe squad
job can turn into an outstanding fitness
regimen. It incorporates both aerobic and
muscle endurance activities. Add in flex-
ibility (through stretching), and you've got
The philosopher Epictetus once said
that, "People are disturbed not by things,
but by the views which they take of them."
You could take the easy pathlike' soma)iy
others-and view yourjob in the hoe squad
as complete and utter drudgery. But that
probably won't accomplish a whole lot. On
the other hand, you could view it as thefit-
ness opportunity that it actually is. It's up
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Texas. Department of Criminal Justice. The ECHO, Volume 83, Number 2, March 2011, newspaper, March 2011; Huntsville, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth640917/m1/3/: accessed June 24, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.