Letter from Peter:

I know I haven't checked in in a long while, but I come bearing good news - I just earned my second Associate's Degree (Business Management) on the 5th of June, 2007.  I wanted to share with you the most important thing I learned along the way, which is the influence my family and friends had on my drive to take advantage of all that prison has to offer.

Many inmates are doing time without any type of support and my hat goes off to them because it's a cold and lonely world when nobody's on your side.  Some enroll in various types of educational or vocational programs in order to better themselves, but as soon as an obstacle presents itself which requires more dedication and input on their part, all bets are off.  The majority of them become part of the growing group of inmates who feel that the system of rehabilitation, and often the world, has turned its back on them.  This errant notion brews contempt and a whole new generation of alienated individuals who wholeheartedly believe that trying is the first step towards failure.

There have been times when things got so hectic for me that I started throwing whatever was in arm's reach at the time against the cell walls; college books and homework went flying out from under the door and into the dayroom.  If not for the feeling of guilt and fear of letting down all those people who believe in me and have been by my side throughout my struggle, there's no doubt in my mind and in my heart that I would've lost all hope and interest.  In these moments it becomes clear how easily cynicism grabs ahold of its victims.  In these moments, that simple "I'm proud of you" or the "keep up the good work" or the knowledge that someone cares makes all the difference in the world.  Instead of violent tantrums and thoughts of abandonment, you strive to overcome the adversity and obstructions to prove to those who support you that they do not and have not done so in vain.  Instead of telling yourself that you're going to TRY to succeed, you convince yourself that you ARE going to succeed and a whole new door opens up in your mind and in reality.  You begin to plan what you will do next year, in the next five years, upon your release, etc. to better yourself, to show what you're capable of, and to ensure perpetual success.

The bottom line is, having a support system, a solid foundation for your motivation, fuels the drive to change for the better.  I know I will make it in life as long as I have friends and family who believe in me, and nothing can change that - not parole, not a felony conviction, not even failed attempts along the way.

Take care and thanks for stopping by,

Peter M.