Hope Is Essential While Serving Time In Prison

Someone once told me that they saw a sign inside of a prison where they were housed that read, “Welcome to Hell. Leave all of your hopes and dreams behind.” I couldn’t phantom something so cruel. Why would someone create and post a sign like that? How many inmates internalize such notions? I can only imagine the number of people who lose sight of their dreams when they are confined in such a dismal place.

I know for me the only thing that kept me going at times during my 18 years of incarceration was the understanding that I had to be held accountable for my actions. I knew that as long as I continued to work toward transformation I would stand a chance of one day being released. I strove to maintain positive thoughts, set and accomplish goals, and develop my potential. I never stopped dreaming.

Eventually I began to envision a different life for myself, a life of freedom, happiness, love and success, a life where I could pursue my academic endeavors and build a career for myself, becoming financially independent and making a difference in the lives of others. Yeah, that’s what I hoped and dreamed about. I refused to let prison snatch my hopes from me. Some days hope was all I had to hold on to. There’s a quote I have loved to love: “A man can live for weeks without food, days without water, minutes without air, but not a second without hope.”

I know some women who never had children and spent all of their childbearing years in prison. I know some women who never obtained a high school diploma and after years of drug abuse getting a GED was impossible. I know some women who were elderly and had a host of grandchildren that they never got a chance to meet. Then, there were women like me who had toddlers when I became incarcerated and watched my children grow into young adults through a barbed wire fence. I lost my father while I was incarcerated. My hope that my father would live to see me released was suddenly crushed on a dreadful day in 2001.

Prisons are a living hell to most of us. Nevertheless, no person should debase him or her self to a state of hopelessness and disregard their dreams. Doing so will undoubtedly add to an increased sense of anxiety, stress, depression and sadness. Once a person is incarcerated and they succumb to such a state, the chances of re-offending are greater, and the chances of a successful reintegration and family reunification are reduced.

When a person is in prison he or she MUST remain hopeful that they will prevail despite all of the evidence around them that says that they will not. A friend of mine encouraged me once, “Always remember the darkest hours come just before dawn.”

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About Mark Miclette 682 Articles
writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.