Friday, December 3, 2010

Comments From Behind the Fence - 2

Nobody says, when they're young, "When I grow up, I want to go to prison!" So, is this where I expected to end up? Nope. But, the reality is, I have nobody to blame other than myself. so, if I wanted to leave this culture behind, it would require effort from me and me alone.

The introduction of the New Directions Education Program was exactly what I needed to take the next step. Making fifty dollars a month doesn't leave you with a lot of disposable income. After you purchase paper, envelopes, and hygienic products...there isn't much left over. NDEP took that in mind and offered a deal too good to refuse.

NDEP is funded solely by donations form people who understand the value of education to inmates. (Check the stats for yourself and see how if affects recidivism.) When it began in 2000, an inmate paid ten dollars for a single college course. My first class was Intercultural Communications. The price has increased. but is still an amazing bargain. This program is why I received my Associates Degree in June 2010 and graduated with high honors (3.96 GPA, which I am very proud of.) I'll always owe a debt of thanks to the NDEP and the faculty of Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon for the opportunity they provided. (Those interested in donating can send their donations to:

New Directions Education Program
PO Box 393
Pendleton, Oregon, 97801

I changed jobs a few times. I worked in the bakery and learned how to become quite an asset in the kitchen. I also spent time as the clerk in the Creative Arts Department. Tragically, some of the most talented artists I've ever met exist behind the fences. (If you want proof, just look at the panels in the MDP anthologies or the covers of Zomblog II and First Time Dead.) And it is not just drawing or painting, there are sculptors, carvers, and musicians. It is tragic in many ways, but a reality of this environment.

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