“I could either let my mind go numb… or I could stimulate my brain.”
Hi, there! You can call me Patrick*. I’m serving a lengthy sentence at a high-security Queensland prison.
I still have well over a decade before I will be considered for parole, so I have a lot of time to make something of this situation. I could either let my mind go numb and become negatively destructive, or I could stimulate my brain to avoid it turning to jelly and becoming bitter at the system that systematically enforces this isolation from the outside world I loved and cherished. I choose the re-birth for a positive life, and this is the time to re-invent myself through education and attitude.
The experiences of many inmates I have seen over the past seven years have revolved around regular people becoming criminals out of desperation. Many don’t have education or skillsets, and most only learn how to hustle as a form of survival. To them, this is how they see success in the real-world battle for existence. Not many have been skilled enough to make an honest living, so they have relied on the illegal hustle to survive.
So, if they’re in custody and no-one ever tries to teach them the skills that will lead them to an honest living, once inevitably released (and everyone is released at some point), they are likely to fall back on the only skillset they know to survive – crime. This, of course, results in another stint in prison for yet another term of punishment. That’s a setup for failure.
“Most (inmates) only learn how to hustle as a form of survival.”
Education provides a long-term solution that will help prevent that failure. Education can be used as a tool to put these convicts into a more attainable position for success as a contributing member of society.
I have been working with Green Fox Training Studio since its early days. In that time, I’ve learnt a huge range of digital skills; a vast change from my pre-custody hands-on working life within the factory and fabrication industries. The application of these learning programs not only further my knowledge base; they will also assist me to break down my barriers of self-limitation. This limitation I talk of here is the belief that all criminals, once condemned, don’t deserve a chance to make something of their lives when released. Educational opportunities such as this challenge these belief systems by providing the chance to learn and apply new skills whilst still incarcerated. This is the best time to reboot the mindset and the skillset, while we have plenty of time on our hands to do so. I mean, why should I wait until I’m out to try and learn new skills? The old saying, ‘seize the day’ seems to sum it up perfectly.
“We need more intrinsic programs and employment opportunities such as this, to fix a broken system that currently results in recurring re-offending. Skills are the solution.”
The logical solution is to start skilling up now, rather than post-release. I have been fortunate enough to have been provided with such an opportunity, with the understanding that when I am released, I will have the skillset to integrate as a functioning community member, contributing to society’s needs through work, and adding to the tax pools instead of being the burden on them. I certainly see myself and many others becoming a successful community contributor. That, to me, is real reform.
We need more intrinsic programs and employment opportunities such as this, to fix a broken system that currently results in recurring re-offending. Skills are the solution.
I am proud to be a part of this solution and look forward to being released as a benefit to the community, rather than a drain on the public purse and a menace to the greater community. My future shines with hope, redemption and a new lease on life.
* Prisoner’s name has been changed for legal reasons.