Well, I’m not 100% sure what I will write about, but my sister mentioned she received good feedback from our previous correspondences. So, I will try to submit something to her every couple of weeks. If anyone wants me to talk about something specific, please let Morgan know.
I plan to start with what I have learned looking back on the choices I made. I can talk about my thought process and why I did what I did. Hopefully, someone can learn from my story.
I am sure people are also curious about the prison life, the scary moments, the funny moments, the hustles and rackets people do to make an extra buck.
For those who already know me, Hello again! And for those who don’t, I am Morgan’s younger brother, Noah. I just turned 33 years old this month. On September 3rd, 2013 I started a 120-month federal prison sentence in Milan, Michigan. In the end, I will serve 87 months, of which I have served 63 so far. It was very intimidating at first with all the barbwire and guard towers, but I since have found it isn’t so bad. There was everything a real prison had to offer, and they treat you right, but not if you don’t carry yourself right.
I will circle back to Milan in detail in a later post, but after 18 months I transferred to a prison camp to serve an additional 69 months. The craziest part was how I got transferred to Yankton (where I’m serving now). They just let me out the front door, brought me to the Greyhound station, and gave me 36 hours to get to Yankton, SD.
I’ll come back to my bus trip as well in another post. But now that I am at this prison camp, with a smaller fence that has openings all around, smack dab in the middle of a town of 7-10K people. This obviously presents a lot of opportunity for plenty of mischief, but it also raises a bigger question, what in the hell am I doing here?
I have learned a lot over the years of my incarceration, about different cultures, different personalities, a ton about myself, but most importantly why I am here.
My Thought Process is Why…
I initially thought I got locked up because I sold drugs, which is my charge and of which I am completely guilty. But there is a deeper issue at hand…
Why did I sell drugs?
Why did I do drugs for the first time?
Why did I steal in high school?
I now realize that I would have eventually come to prison for something else later down the road, even if I didn’t make that first run up to Grand Forks with a couple hundred pills of ecstasy. I would have probably gotten in on some other scheme and ended up in the same place.
This is one thing I have learned in treatment, along with my thought process behind my irrational thoughts, that led to poor choices.
I am not proud of many of the things I have done in my life, even though I may have been a little grandiose at the time, but looking back now I am ashamed and embarrassed. One thing about the past is you can’t change it. I can only do everything in my power and my choices to not re-live it.
For the past seven months, I have been in a pretty intense inpatient drug program, 3 1/2 hours a day, Monday thru Friday, and I complete that program on February 22nd. I have shared very personal experiences with the community, as we call each other here. I have broken down crying sharing impact letters from my family, discussing the impact of my drug use. I came clean on decade-old issues with my mom, so I could forgive myself and be able to move on. This program has been taxing on my emotions of myself and my family, but I believe we will all be stronger in the end for it.
I want everyone involved with my case to know how sorry I am. I have forgiven them, and I hope they will eventually do the same for me. I am sure most of them are home by now, and I hope they are doing well and not falling back to our old ways.
The million dollar question is, why did I do what I did?
I was raised by two loving parents, who provided me with everything I needed, taught me good family values, and paid for my college education. I was always happy and willing to help others, but with everything positive in my life, I still have a track record of making bad choices.
I smoked my first cigarette at 10, took my first drink at 12, and weed at 13. Along with shoplifting, trespassing, tearing up farmers fields, poaching deer…all adding to my poor choices. Now that I have a daughter who’s seven, it puts things into perspective.
Why did I think this behavior was acceptable?
I got caught shoplifting right after I turned 18 and got charged; it was a turning point in my life because I had also been stealing from my parents for months while working the register at our family restaurant. The recent charge aroused suspicion from my dad, who then confronted me. I broke down crying and lied to his face, and will never forget the pain especially now that he is no longer here for me to ask his forgiveness from.
Although after this charge and lying to my dad, the stealing stopped that day, other criminal activities did not. I went off to college where the drug use increased. By the time I turned 21 I had between 6-8 underage consumption charges. With partying, I found something I was good at. I was voted the life of the party in high school, and I embraced it.
My brother, Jesse, once told me that people excel at things where people reinforce it with positive praise. For him, it was golf and education. And for me, it was being wild and crazy. Another part is I lack self-confidence, and in my younger year, drugs eliminated those thoughts.
How do I break this cycle of criminal behavior or irrational thoughts?
Well, I think the answer is to change the way I think. I need to correct the thought before it becomes an action.
The program that I’m currently in has given me names to the thoughts I have known so well over the years. As soon as they rise in my mind, I address them by name and correct my thought immediately.
I also know I need to lean on my support group for help and accountability. My sister, Morgan, said she would literally kill me if I do drugs again, so I guess I won’t have to worry about coming back here to prison. Ha! 🙂 Another part of my recovery maintenance will be structure between work and home life. For motivation, I don’t have to look far, because I have my daughter Melrose.
I look forward to getting out and working with Morgan and Jamie and getting to know you guys more. Spending time with my nieces and nephews who don’t know me well yet, golfing, boating, camping, snowboarding, skateboarding, music shows…these are just a few things I miss the most.
As I approach the two year mark of my release date, I feel I can finally start to think of my new life. I am excited about it, and I know my family is too. I also know some of them have thoughts and concerns on what I will do and who I will be upon my release, and I deserve those concerns. All I can hope is the people my drug use has affected will come around over time and give me another chance.
As I mentioned, recently I have been doing victim impact letters, where I have reached out to those I wronged. I know I haven’t reached out to everyone but if anyone wants to write one I will respond and be thankful. The letters have opened my eyes to damage I didn’t even know I caused because I was too busy thinking about myself.
I didn’t even know or think about the effect my incarceration had on my sister who was trying to enjoy her honeymoon as I’m sitting in the shu (the hole) at Milan (because they didn’t have bed space). My brother laid out clear expectations for me when I get home, concerns of the people I will bring around their family that could hurt them (I broke down in group sharing this part). He also said he is prepared to cut me out if I don’t meet those expectations. I thank him for the tough love and love him even more for being so honest. My mom and grandparents focused on the lies and deception that hurt them the most, and I could feel the emotion in the letters as I asked them to revisit the pain I had caused, so many times, over so many years.
I want to thank everyone who has sent me love over the years. So many have supported me over the years, all in different ways, some expected and so many very unexpected. For those who have chosen to stay silent and are waiting to see who comes out, I understand.
Till next time!