Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Peer pressure

Peer pressure is a powerful form of control. Here are some voices about this and how to prevent it.

Peer pressure (or social pressure) is direct influence on people by peers, or an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform to those of the influencing group or individual. This type of pressure differs from general social pressure because it causes an individual to change in response to a feeling of being pressured or influenced from a peer or peer group. Social groups affected include both membership groups, in which individuals are "formally" members (such as political parties and trade unions), and cliques in which membership is not clearly defined. However, a person does not need to be a member or be seeking membership of a group to be affected by peer pressure.
There has been considerable study regarding peer pressure's effects on children and adolescents, and in popular discourse the term is mostly used in the contexts of those age groups. For children, the common themes for study regard their abilities for independent decision making; for adolescents, peer pressure's relationship with sexual intercourse and substance abuse have been significantly researched. Nevertheless, peer pressure can affect individuals of all ethnicities, genders, and ages. Peer pressure serves as an important leadership tool and a powerful motivator for charitable giving and voting. Regarding two of history's recent genocides, the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, there has been strong debate over the role peer pressure played in the atrocities (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_pressure)

The mechanisms of peer pressure
To understand what peer pressure is and why it has such impact on
our lives we need to recognize the fact that fitting in and being part of
a group is part of life. As it is very important for our survival that we
have other people around us, we learn from a very early age to
imitate others. We learn from other people and they learn from us.
There are many positive examples of how peer influence can make a
person grow and develop new skills. A classmate shows you how to
solve a difficult maths problem or how to do a new trick on your
skate- board. Maybe you admire your friend and you want to be more
like him or her. In turn, you may influence your classmate to like the
same films or music as you do.
But peers can also have a negative impact on you. For example,
friends at school may ask you to join in skipping classes with them
just for fun. Another classmate might try to make you write nasty
comments about someone on Facebook. You may end up shoplifting
just because some friends want you to do it, although you know that
it’s wrong. These situations are all examples of negative peer
One explanation of why peer pressure is so powerful is that people
want to be loved and accepted by others. It is easier to be influenced
to do things that you wouldn’t normally do if you’re in a crowd. The
idea that “everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t I?” can make
sensible people behave in strange ways.
(UR pedagoger)

Prevent peer pressure:
Self-esteem is a crucial component when it comes to avoiding peer pressure.
When you have a good self image, you're less likely to give in when someone starts turning up the heat.
You can build self-esteem by not cutting yourself down in front of others and feeling confident in your own skin.
Surround yourself with positive role models to encourage this behavior
Everyone has a conscience.
Some people have the ability to brush it away, but most people DO have a conscience.
Sometimes when you find yourself in a situation where you start to cave into peer pressure, stop and think of the consequences.
There are always consequences, and sometimes they can be more grave than others.
So give every moment serious thought when you start feeling pressured.
Peer pressure can leave you feeling like a loser or an idiot when you stand up to your peers and say no.
But don't let this bother you!
Think of it this way-you're the better man!
You're the better man because you said no to drugs or drinking and driving.
You're the better man because you refused to do something illegal or dishonest.
So you're NOT a loser or an idiot, and trust me, someday you'll be glad you stood up for what was right!

What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure is the influence you feel from a person or group of people to do something you might not otherwise consider doing.
It’s not uncommon to want to be part of a group and feel like you belong in a community, especially if you are new or less experience than the people around you.
Peer pressure often happens because you don’t want to be alone or left out. So you go with what other people think in order for them to include you. A peer can be anyone around the same age-as you, like a friend, classmate, or even someone you seen on TV and admire. You might try to live up to people’s expectations, but it’s important to be mindful to not have other people’s expectations cloud what you want.
If you’re dealing with peer pressure, you’re not alone.
How does peer pressure affect us?
Peer pressure isn’t always a negative thing. It can be a positive influence and help challenge or motivate you to do your best. However, it’s helpful to recognize that peer pressure can also be negative. It can result in you doing something that doesn’t fit with your sense of right and wrong.
Peer pressure might influence you in a number of ways, including:
Fashion choices
Alcohol and drug use
Decision to have a boyfriend or girlfriend
Choice of who your friends are
Academic performance
Where does peer pressure come from?
Peer pressure can be present at school or within a broader community. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Peer pressure can affect you in a number of different ways:
Directly. Peer pressure can be as simple and direct as someone telling you what to do. It might be a good idea to talk to someone you trust if you feel threatened, or if you are being hurt or pressured into something you don’t want to do. You could talk to a family member, friend, teacher or counselor. Check out the Get Help section for more information about how they can help.
Indirectly. Peer pressure might not always be obvious to you. It’s not uncommon for a group of friends to have particular habits or activities that they do together. But when you’re with a different group of friends, it might be unlikely that you do those same things. For example, you might only smoke when you are with certain friends, or you might be more likely to study when you are with other friends.
Individually. Sometimes the pressure comes from you. Feeling different from a group can be hard. Sometimes this happens when people move to a new city or start a new school or job. This often means having to make new friends and fit into a new environment. To avoid feeling out of place, you might do things to make sure you feel like the rest of the group. When people feel unsure about themselves, they might be more likely to feel the effects of peer pressure.
What can you do about peer pressure?
Being an individual means making decisions based on what is best for you. It means taking ownership and responsibility for what you do and how you think. But being an individual also means that you can be a valued part of a comfortable and welcoming group. It might be hard to resist peer pressure and stay an individual. Here are some suggestions that can help you manage peer pressure better.
Value common interests. Hanging out with people who like doing similar stuff may help you avoid a situation where you feel pressured into things you don’t want to do. Remember that being seen hanging out in the “cool crowd” might not be as much fun as it looks if you’re not comfortable with the decisions that crowd is making.
Say no. Having the strength to say no can be hard, but it can also make you feel good to stick with what you believe in. Explain to people in a calm way why you don’t want to be part of something, and you might earn respect from others and gain confidence in yourself.
Try not to judge others. If possible, try not to place judgments on other people’s choices. Respecting someone else’s choice may help them to respect yours. Remember that you don’t have to agree with their actions. Focusing on the reasons why you don’t feel happy with the choice might help you to not judge them.
Take action. Taking action against negative peer pressure can be easier when you’re more comfortable in your environment. Standing up for yourself and others can be a way to gain that comfort. Both of these are ways in which you might be able to create a positive atmosphere within a group

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Other bloggers behind bars

There are many bloggers out there and I would like to recommend two on here for you to check out.

Shannon Ross

A combination of the internet and a sense of community among those of us who’ve done time is the best way for us to strengthen our opportunities for success upon release.
With my blog I aim to help however I currently can. In it I use my experiences to remind those who’ve been released about what they risk returning to if they give up or lose focus of the promises they made when they were incarcerated.Guys who read it say it’s helpful.
I hope to expand this blog to include a variety of points of view, such as from those who’ve been out for some time, those who’ve just been released, female perspectives and even those who work in the system (PO’s, CO’s, etc.)
If you have any interest in getting involved with this or anyadvice for me about it, please send me an email. Also, if you are interested in or curious about restorative justice, check out my Facebook page to read a proposal for a great new website. Thank you.”
Read his blog The Inner Voice online:http://theinnervoice84.wordpress.com/

Eric is currently incarcerated in Amarillo, Texas, serving a 50 year sentence. He is a former boat builder, physiotherapist, commercial diver, and chef. He is also a student of history, philosophy, theology, and theoretical physics. He is an avid nature and animal lover.He has a website called Mystic Ministries where he shares his philosophy, guided meditations, his recommended reading list, and the Mystery School.
Read his blog Saints Insidehttp://saintsinside.blogspot.com/

All the best,

Friday, December 2, 2016

Check this out

This is a book written by a prisoner who is also a chef. He's mad a book with recipes for cooking while locked up. Jailhouse cooking - poor mans guide to cooking

To support prisoners and re-entry programs please visit fairshake.net. They do great work for prisoners helping them re-entry to society.

All the best,
Steven Stone

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What do you think?

Have you ever became so angry with someone or something that you had thoughts of violence? Come 'on, just about everyone has at some point in their lives. Now, not all act upon their anger and thoughts of violence; but the thought is still there.
     Ladies, have you ever thought about what you would do if you walked into your bedroom and caught your man with another woman? Can you imagine the hurt, anger, pain, and fury that would run through your mind in that moment? The crazy thoughts that would be running through your head!! "I'm going to kill him or her!". Would that be one that would run through your mind in that moment? Men, The same goes for you. Put yourself in those shoes! How would you feel? What would you be thinking?
     Now, let us take this scenario further and place a knife or gun in your vicinity. What would you do? They are so entangled in each other that they don't even notice you have opened the door and standing there! You could turn around and walk out the room unnoticed,  or you could grab that knife or gun and react. Could you simply walk away? Are you strong and aware enough in that moment to turn and walk away? Or  would you act out in a violent manner?
     Let's say you committed an act of violence. No matter what act, you get locked up and you have to go before a judge and jury. The judge gives you a reduced sentence because it was a "crime of passion" or you were in a state of "temporary insanity". Meaning that the act happened in the heat of the moment and you lost your sanity temporarily. The judge then sentences you to whatever lenient sentence and orders you to undergo counseling, therapy, anger management, drug and alcohol abuse treatment (if they played a part), and mental health evaluations. For such a crime of violence, being under certain circumstances, the punishment in prison is lighter and the rehabilitation is extensive. Here in this example, violence was met with understanding, proper form of deterrence, and a care for life and liberty from our criminal justice system. Sadly, that's not always the case and I'll explain why in my opinion.
     The reason I gave this example of violence is to bring awareness to how important it is for us as a whole to understand how the criminal justice system is handling offenders, especially so-called violent offenders. In the United States most of our inner cities are being plagued with crimes of violence and in a lot of cases, murder is the unfortunate outcome for our youth. Young men and women- white-Spanish-and primarily black- are killing each other for next to nothing. It's sickening! But what is more sickening is how our court system and society is responding to this type of violence. The court systems only solution is to give out as much time as possible without regard to circumstances and conditions. Society is unaware of the circumstances surrounding the conditions these youth are growing up in. They are only shown limited information about these environments to influence their reactions. When dealing with people of any crime, would it not be "Just" to have judges have the power to consider every factor in each individual case? To weigh their influences, education, circumstances, mental and health state?
      Regretfully, The way the federal system is set up these factors play a very minor role in sentencing. Can people change? Should that play a factor in sentencing? This line of questioning and reasoning is not for repeat offenders and those of older ages who has continuously, throughout their lives, been in and out of prison. This is for the young youths who only know a certain way of life that they have been taught and influenced by. This is for the ones who were young, got hooked on drugs, and got involved in these lifestyles because of the drugs. This is for the kids who were influenced by their parents, friends, media and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the elders of these children miseducated them in the wrong things and ways of life. They mislead them and this has become a systematic culture in our neighborhoods, society and "the system". In the Federal system, elders get more relief and help than the young. Why is this? Why, when they are the roots of these conditions and circumstances, getting the relief and help? This is not to place blame on all elders or to take away personal responsibility from the youth completely. I'm only saying would it not be beneficial to us for every individual to have weighed all these circumstances in sentencing and addressing issues with every individual before we take so many years from them or their lives?
     Just as a person claims a "crime of passion", would it be plausible to accept a claim of a "crime of miseducation, ignorance, or circumstances"? Is this a reasonable concept to consider for a human who grew up and was taught in a bad neighborhood, family, or institution? This public issue transcends race, ethnicity and geography. Would it not be appropriate to have real anger management, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, and educational programs? What about extensive therapy and mental health observations; instead of locking these humans into cages (because that's what they are) and letting them just sit  and not grow? Would it not benefit us as a whole to prepare them for society and how to function? To open their eyes up that there is more to life? That the world is bigger than the small reality that fate dealt them? To show them that if they work hard in a right living manner there is success and a  better way?
     How would you feel if you made a  mistake (bad choice) at a young age and realize later on you were taught a very bad way of living by someone you trusted and loved? Who you thought had your best interest at heart? If you woke up one day to this reality locked-up in a cage with no hope of release or earning your way back into society? The hopelessness, guilt, shame, etc.. you would feel? Would showing care, hope, and love be a better way to curve violent behavior?
     There are many people in prison who are going through this. I'm not saying all, or most, but there is a lot who are good and have realized the errors of their ways.  There are many who have the potential to be great assets to our society! There are many who can change and are trying to change, but it is a constant struggle against the culture that surrounds them. They are the lights in the darkness! They are the beacons for the youth to gain positive guidance and change their lives and those around them. They do it in here! They can do it out there! They are the ones who can relate to the circumstances and conditions the youth are going through. We need an outlet for them to get out there to be what we need! What do you think?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The 5 A's: Awareness. Attitude, Aptitude, Action and Altitude

When properly preparing to prevent poor performance, utilizing the 5 A's in your endeavors will give you the mindset for success. 
  The key to success is becoming aware that we are the creators of our life's story. Knowing, that nothing has control over our feelings, thoughts, actions, and responses but ourselves; and that we hold the power in our minds in the paths we choose to take, will set us up for success. 

  When we become aware of the power we hold our attitudes will change towards our surroundings and circumstances. The mindset of "I can't do something" becomes "I can", and you start to seek solutions to problems instead of dwelling on problems, or being part of the problems. There will be a confidence inside of you that no matter what obstacle, whether it is a faulty belief system or people who hate, you won't allow them to pull you down.

  Once you have achieved a level of awareness, and your attitude starts to change, your aptitude (natural ability and capacity to learning) will welcome all opportunities to develop your knowledge, skills, and abilities in all areas of your life. Opening your mind to listening helps to develop our understanding of our surroundings, and circumstances. You will learn that there are things that are simply out of our control, but always aware of things that are.

  Implementing the first 3 A's in your preparations will get you where you want to go with actions. No more talk, relying on others to do things for you, laziness, or blaming: but taking control of your own life and creating your own future and success. Only by your action on your part will anything happen. 

  Lastly, there is altitude. Practicing these skills will elevate your position in every aspect of your life. This allows you to excel past hurdles you never thought you could and managing your life around the foolish things that will come along.

  Applying the 5 A's takes an awareness of self that you have control over your attitudes in all situations and that you have aptitude for success. Putting plans into action is the only way to success in life and with perseverance altitude will have no bounds.

Steven Stone

Monday, October 10, 2016

United States Sentencing Guidelines

Many of you are most likely not aware of, the laws in place in the federal system, that are painted with a very broad brush affecting everyone regardless of their charges, actions, and circumstances. There is no good-time, parole, or any other way for a person to earn their way back into society. They sentence you by months based off of a sentencing guideline table that only takes into consideration the amount of time previously served (called "criminal history") and an offense level number based on each offenses that were determined by congress.
     I understand the reasoning behind setting up the table system to create a format in determining appropriate sentences for people. Where the problem arose though is how the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) is applied to individuals. For instance, let's say a person  has a conviction of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, theft, etc. (anything that isn't a serious offense basically) and is sentenced to 60 days to 1 year in jail. Regardless of the offense committed, under the U.S.S.G. because of the amount of time you were given you will be given a  2 point enhancement to your criminal history that will dictate which category you get put in. Which in turn, can, and most often does, drastically change your sentence in years! I'm not talking a 1-2 year difference. I'm talking a 6-7 year to life in prison difference!!
     Please look at the sentencing table I have posted and look at, let's say, offense level 37. Now go across to criminal history categories 4 and 5. Do you see the difference in the amount of time given because of what this 2 point enhancement can do? All because of how the U.S.S.G. is being applied makes this difference in people's lives! Not to mention that these people have already paid their dues to society by serving their time and whatever other requirements were placed upon them. Now they are being given more time for these same charges cloaked in the U.S.S.G. as an enhancement in their criminal history. To me, this feels and looks like double jeopardy. What do you think?
     I know there are many arguments that can be made for both sides, but when sentencing a person to prison based off of past charges, judges should be able to weigh all the facts and not be forced to go by a criminal history category that does not take into account all the facts and circumstances! This is people's lives and their families lives that are being affected!
     What I am saying here does not negate that there is individuals who has extreme histories of violence and career offender tendencies who should be sentenced appropriately. I'm not saying just let people go. I'm not saying there shouldn't be consequences for one's actions. I'm not saying the sentencing table should be uprooted. what I am saying is that the U.S.S.G. should be amended to where all the facts of each individuals case be taken into consideration and not be given amounts of time based off of only numbers.
     To resolve this problem it will take a change in the U.S.S.G. enacted by congress. It will take US speaking to our congress-people about these problems and making them issues. It will take US discussing this problem  with others and bringing awareness to them about what is going on. It will take US caring about what is happening not only to ourselves, but to others. I look forward to hearing from you about your opinion on this matter, ideas about how to change things, bring awareness, and whatever else you may think. Thank you for your time.

Sentencing table

                                                                                                              Respectfully Yours,

                                                                                                              Steven Stone

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Our voice matters

Hello! My name is Steven Stone. I have created this blog with the hope of bringing more awareness to what is going on in our judicial system, the positive changes people are making inside prisons, to show the stigmas of all prisoners is not based on objective reality, to allow voices to be heard, to make a difference, and to help people become more aware of the things going on.
     Before I go any further I would like to tell you a little about myself and what has brought me here today. I grew up in a small city outside of Baltimore, MD named Frederick. I am 32 yrs. old, have been locked up since I was 20yrs. old, and still have like 9yrs. to go. I am in the federal penitentiary for basically being in the "Drug game", but to be honest, it was my mindset that really put myself in this position. For years after being locked-up my thinking was still stuck in this warped reality and I had to lose someone truly special to me and hit "the bottom" to realize who I was and where I was going was not what I wanted to be.

                                 "I am stronger because I had to be,
                                  I am smarter because of my mistakes,
                                  I am happier because of the sadness I've known,
                                  and now wiser because I have learned"

     For many years after becoming aware of the errors of my ways I continued to accept the "Status quo" of "The system" and the mentality of the streets. I looked the other way to a lot of stuff and told myself "if they don't care then why should I?!" Of course when the conversations came my way I spoke up but I tended to try to stay away from them. People only know what they know from their experiences and the things they are taught by influences. So I contented myself to allowing the "Status quo" to go on without my voice. Until I realized that my staying quiet was as much of the problem as those knee deep in the game! How can those who only know what they know learn if we don't speak up? Our voice matters, I realized most!
     Which has brought me here today speaking to you. I have decided to start writing and speaking up. I have decided to get in this program called "Challenge" that has really helped me build on myself and reach out to others. The program is a modified therapeutic community that focus' on a lot of the issues that are affecting us. Such as drugs, rational thinking errors, thought processes, anti-social behavior, community building, and negative information sources that are bias, give limited-selective facts, and not based on objective reality.
     This program has given me the opportunity to discuss many of these problems with others, taught me that things don't have to be the way they are, given me the confidence to speak up and reach out, and the knowledge that I hold the power in every situation by the choices I make.
     We also have a newsletter here where guys can write about topics that interest them and are positive and motivational towards change, thinking, problem-solving, etc... I am an editor on the newsletter board and use this resource to reach out to others and try to get them to think and ponder our situations (articles will be posted on the blog). I will not lie and say everyone is positive  and wants change, not all do. But there is some good guys in here and because of the others we get stereotyped into their category and with them, laws are passed by congress and enforced by the F.B.O.P. that affects everyone!
     My next step in trying to reach out has been to create this blog with the hope of creating a dialogue with members of society (you), discussing your concerns with how things are, things you have heard, bring awareness, and find solutions to problems that we together can start working to fix one step at a time!
     I am new to this social media stuff and not sure exactly how it works.lol..:) if you have any ideas to help make this better and reach people please contact me and give me your advice. Also, if you are willing to spread the word and help start creating conversations on anything of concern I would greatly appreciate it. thank you and take care.

UBUNTU is a south African                                                                        
phrase that means...                                                                            
"I am who I am because of who we all are."                                             UBUNTU,                                                                                                              
                                                                                                            Steven Stone