In an unexpected encounter at a kids’ party in Urban Air, Fullerton, I ran into someone I had served time in federal prison with. The reunion was not in federal prison but in the colorful atmosphere of a children’s playground. Enrique tapped me on the shoulder and re introduced himself. It was a moment that reminded me of the impact our words and advice can have on someone’s life.

Enrique, now with a wife and two kids, had moved on from the days we spent in federal prison. I couldn’t help but be curious about how he was doing and what had transpired since our time in prison. It was a quick but candid conversation that shed light on the power of guidance–even if that guidance was just a few sentences.

I asked Enrique if he would be willing to share his story with me through a video, but his wife declined, saying that nobody knew about his past. That didn’t deter us, however, from talking about the invaluable advice I had given him when we met in federal prison.

I learned how to use my time wisely during my time in prison. I documented that growth through my release plan. People read that release plan, including Enrique before he surrendered to prison.

After his surrender, Enrique found me and asked me for advice on how to be productive in federal prison.

“What should I do here?” he asked.

He was seeking a sense of direction in a place where time can easily slip away into monotony.

My response was simple yet profound:

“What do people you admire do at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday?”

He thought for a moment and replied, “They’re working.”

I continued our conversation by posing another question:

“What about 3 p.m. on a Thursday?”

Enrique responded again, “They’re working.”

It was at that moment that the path forward became clear. I emphasized the importance of utilizing every moment in prison as an opportunity for self-improvement and preparation for life after federal prison.

In prison, it’s all too common for individuals to become trapped in a cycle of boredom, waiting for mail call, and watching time pass as if it were paint drying. I encouraged Enrique to break free from this pattern. Instead of comparing himself to the prisoners who were simply wasting away their days, he should compare himself to the successful individuals he admired who were working diligently towards their goals.

The key takeaway from our conversation was that by adopting a productive mindset and staying focused on self-improvement, Enrique could not only avoid boredom but also emerge from prison ready for a successful life on the outside.

Questions to consider:

  1. How can you, during your time in federal prison, use every moment to avoid boredom and focus on self-improvement?
  2. How can you personally compare your actions in prison to those of successful individuals outside and use this mindset to prepare for life after release?
  3. How can documenting your personal growth through a release plan benefit you not only during your time in prison but also in your journey toward a successful life after release?

If you see value in documenting your progress, schedule a call with our team or call us at 704-654-1604.

Justin Paperny

author avatar
Justin Paperny