Report date
October 2021
Learning Log

As I move through this leadership journey, I am beginning to unpack how my 19.5 years as a correctional influenced my way of thinking. As a correctional officer, I was directed to report to others, in detail, things that occurred in the facility and how I was involved. I was taught to never add my own opinions or analysis of what I witnessed or what I was involved in, just report the facts. During this fellowship, I am being stretched in a different way. I am being asked to share about my journey and what I am thinking and feeling about my experiences. This is something I’m not used to doing. I am being asked to reflect on what I am experiencing as I move forward with my personal transformation. It’s been difficult to give myself permission to reflect, to analyze, and to share my own feelings, thoughts, and observations. Being reflective is not the way I have been trained to document my experiences and my interactions with others.
I learned that in order to really dig into the work, to really grow and develop that I needed to step out of my role as a correctional officer. Since I retired as an officer, I feel like a part of me has been surgically removed. I miss the daily interactions with the men in the prison. I felt dismayed to say goodbye to the incarcerated men, but I assured them that I will be coming back in a different light and I know I will. Now I’ll have more time to work on myself and get some work done in a different way.
I spent my last day as a guard working with a filmmaker for my current project, Art from the Inside. She was interviewing three men who were sentenced to life in prison when there were 14, 15, and 16 years old. Now after 20 plus years in prison, they shared their reflections, regrets, and emotions about their experiences as young boys. As I looked at them, I saw the men they have become and felt the weight of what they must have gone through as children in this harsh environment. It made me think about my own sons and why I take pride in being the father I am today. You see, I grew up without a father, I didn’t want my sons to go through what I went through so I have worked so hard to always be present in their lives.
There is a lot to unpack as I move forward.