Wednesday, June 2, 2010


What can I say? Prison sucks. This is the last place you ever want to be, even for one day. So, please, don't screw up.

However this blog isn't to bash the prison system or to complain about inhumane living conditions or being treated like garbage every minute of every day. It's not to rant and rave about Texas' criminal justice system, unscrupulous prosecutors, or uncaring public "defense" attorneys. Rather, it's meant to focus on the positive aspects of the prison experience.

In fact, I believe everyone should be locked up for a while. Everyone needs to spend a few years in a 5' x 9' cement box along with a 400 lb. flatulent lunatic who thinks you're just the cutest thing. Everyone needs to be beat down and humiliated each day by petty tyrants in uniform. Everyone needs to lose everything they own, their family and friends. And here's why:

The vast majority of people don't appreciate what they already have; they take their lives for granted. I know I sure did. We can all recognize the simple truths: that material things are overrated, that people/relationships are what matter most, that Love is the answer - and preach them vociferously, but until one is faced with real tragedy, real loss, they're just platitudes. Tragedy etches them onto your soul forever. And prison is one hell of a tragedy for everyone involved.

Once you've been in prison. your freedom is especially cherished; and, again, it's the simplest things that are missed most: the freedom to walk to the store, to drive across town to visit a friend, to wear what you want, eat what you want, speak what and when you want - even the freedom to be what you want. To be poor and homeless is preferable to being locked away and forgotten.

However, on the plus side, prison is a serious time out. It's an opportunity to re-adjust, re-assess, and get your priorities straight. It's a chance to recover from addiction and regain your sanity. It's a good time to look over your entire life, relive every mistake you have ever made, no matter how small, and feel remorse for each one. It's a time to meditate and pray.

"Perhaps some of us have to go through dark and
devious ways before we can find the river of Peace
or the Highroad to the souls destination."
-- Joseph Conrad

The result of all this contemplation and soul searching is a better person. However, timing is everything: sentences can be either too long or too short, and it depends on the person as well as the crime. For example, a chronic alcoholic or drug addict may need three years in prison to recover, even if they were arrested for something relatively minor. But, regardless, no one should have to spend more than ten years behind bars for their first ever offense, except for the most heinous crimes. Ten years in prison is infinitely longer than ten years in the free world. And too long a sentence can do much more harm than good. There's a point where the anger and frustration at the injustice of an excessive sentence or denial of parole may outweigh whatever positive strides are made. That's if there's an attempt to change in the first place, because someone facing 50 years or a life sentence may see no reason to become a better person. Also, spending too much time locked away makes it that much more difficult, if not impossible, to reintegrate back into society.

For the newcomer, it becomes immediately obvious that prison is a place of tremendous ignorance and violence; and it takes a real and sustained effort to rise above it all. It can easily kill the goodness in you, if you let it. Once someone makes the decision and is determined to overcome it all to become a better person in this hellhole, they are on the "fast track" of spiritual evolution. Few other situations/environments offer so many tests and challenges on a daily -- hourly! -- basis. The lessons are the same as anywhere else: forgiveness, tolerance, compassion, kindness, gratitude, patience, etc. -- but here they come at you fast and furious. To constantly forgive the unforgivable, and to someday lose your ego in a place so full of inflated ones, is a real accomplishment.

Fear is the first and most difficult thing to overcome. But, in time, you come to realize that some of the meanest, scariest characters you're ever likely to meet are actually good, decent people -- that everyone, no matter how twisted and cruel sometimes, wants to be a good person; it's just that some don't know how to go about it. And perhaps they, too, are afraid associating goodness with weakness; perhaps they're compensating for insecurities and self hatred.

Some may call the notion that all people are essentially good at their core naive or foolish. But spend enough time in a maximum-security prison and you'll meet the most hardened criminals, the so-called worst (if you're lucky you can even share a cell with them for a while), and you'll find that they are thinking, feeling human beings just like yourself, albeit with some "issues" and a certain lack of impulse control. They regret their mistakes, and they really do want and often try to be "good".

Unfortunately, many inmates are just plain crazy. The penitentiary can seem like a looney bin at times. The majorly whacko are medicated into oblivion, like shuffling zombies, which is pretty common as there isn't the staff or resources to properly treat them. These poor souls need to be institutionalized somewhere, I suppose, and this may be the only exception where prison is the better alternative to life on the streets. The moderately nuts are left to drive the rest of us crazy. My previous "cellie" is a pretty good example: He would pace like a tiger in a cage -- back and forth, back and forth -- occasionally flapping his arms as a particular thought crossed his mind. It was a bit nervewracking.

There are also a lot of former "meth heads" running about, and they're hard to discern from the usual looney-toons. Methamphetamine addiction ruins many so lives. Apparently, the damage done to the brain and other parts of the nervous system can be irreversible: they're permanently screwed up. When I was first arrested and in the county jail, it seemed like every other person was there for something meth-related. And so many still intend to smoke it, snort it, shoot it, or whatever again as soon as they are released. They're hooked for life. Not all, of course, but way too many. It breaks my heart. Please: Never do meth. Not even once, okay?

Drug and alcohol addiction is by far the worst problem facing America and many other countries today. A hard statement to back up with facts, perhaps, but one look at our prison system should be enough to convince you. Drugs and alcohol are the reason most every one of us are in this place. It's either selling drugs, abusing them, or both. I myself was a chronic alcoholic and eventually lost my mind for a time. There's a reason why they call it "dope". People lose their ability to reason or even think straight, and in a short time this affects their character. They do things drunk and stoned that they would never even consider doing sober. And although there can be no excuse for their bevaviour, there is a reason for it. So, instead of immediately labeling someone a criminal and throwing them in prison forever, we really need to treat their addiction. After all, is the goal to fix the symptom or the cause of the problem? I say we can do both.

The solution, I believe, is converting the majority of our prisons into rehabilitation centers as well. Then once an addict convicted of a crime is fully treated and on the road to recovery, they should be required to repay society by doing some legitimate community service work, rather than live off the public's tax dollars for too many years in prison. Incarceration should be a part of, but not the whole solution.

Having said that, it seems that prison, by itself, has worked wonders for me, and I was a mess. I can thank God for my arrest because it literally saved my life as I was a suicidal alcoholic at the time. The first few months in jail were spent going through such horrific alcohol withdrawals that I honestly thought I was going to die some days. It took about three years to finally get my head on straight, though if asked any time before then, I would have said I was fine and ready to go(people who are really screwed up have a hard time realizing they're screwed up). But after five years behind bars, I would have been an excellent candidate for comunity service work while being on parole for another five to ten more years, instead of just rotting away as I am now of no real use to anybody and only a burden to society.

To make the most of my own experience with drug and alcohol addiction, I have been studying for years to become a rehabilitation counselor myself. There is no one better to advise an addict than someone who's been through it themselves. What I've learned and discovered personally is that, after first treating the physical aspects of addiction, what's most important is instilling a sense of purpose and meaning in one's life. Because, besides thrill seeking and simple ignorance, feelings of hopelessness and meaninglessness are the underlying cause of drug and alcohol abuse. Also, because addicts will use any excuse to rationalize their behaviour, they need a powerful reason to abstain; they need to be convinced that there is a better option available: something that will make them feel even better than the drugs and alcohol they use. And that something, believe it or not, is "service to others". We all have the innate desire for worth, to contribute in some way; and the feelings one gets from helping someone else -- being needed, wanted, appreciated -- beats any other "high", hands down. Having such a reason to get up in the morning is a sure long term cure for addiction. And of course, having a support group of some kind is pretty essential.

However, I believe the ultimate solution lies in an understanding of the true nature of reality, the universe, and our place in it. Call it spirituality or a belief in God, or the Divine. Though, for me, better than mere belief is knowing. I've found that it's possible to personally experience the Divine realm and prove to one's self the existence of a "higher", spiritual source of which we are all a part. Once a person realizes this as well as their souls ultimate purpose on earth, the desire to drink, do drugs, or otherwise self destruct goes right out the window. And this goes the same for any kind of criminal behaviour.

To teach people how to personally experience the Divine for themselves, and to help as best as I know how from this prison cell, I've created The goal is to educate and enlighten people as to their true nature as spiritual beings. I recommend a number of excellent books and resources and basically just try to spark people's curiosity and interest to learn more. Please check out the site and refer your friends.

"What is to give light must endure burning."
-- Viktor Frankl

The main purpose of this blog is to show that redemption is real. People really can change for the better. Our prisons are full of those who are proof of this. Some are veritable saints. Unfortunately, though, much due to excessive sentences and the denial of parole, many of these good, decent people who have atoned for their sins are languishing needlessly in overcrowded and underfunded prisons everywhere. I hope to bring greater awareness to this problem. With your help, perhaps together we can make a difference in the system.

Over the coming months and probably years, I'll be your intrepid reporter with the "inside" scoop on life in prison. At times I'll probably go off on wild tangents or digress a bit from the main point, as tends to happen, but I'll always keep it real. There's a lot to discuss.

Your feedback is really appreciated. Feel free to contact me anytime at or, better yet, please write to me at:

Eric Remerowski
1145256 Clements
9601 Spur 591
Amarillo, TX 79107

Thanks for listening and caring. Bye for now. -- Eric

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