No one desires to be in jail, we don’t pray for people to go into trouble and land in jail but unfortunately some people’s choices will definitely land them in jail. Some Innocent folks who are victims of the circumstances around them will also land in jail.

I believe if anyone spends one day, one week, one month or one year and more in incarceration, they will definitely have an EXPERIENCE that makes them view the world from a deeper and better perspective. This is only my thought, because I’m not sure if this is the thought of each one in jail. Our perception is our reality, how we view the situation before us will either empower us or disempower us.

If well harnessed, the experience of incarceration is a treasure. Yes, the treatment and punishment might not be pleasant because you are being punished by law. But if you learn from each moment, document each moment, work hard even while in jail to help and support fellow prisoners rather than influencing them to have bad habits you will be better off.

For those in jail, how about embracing the Joseph Jacob Model of helping the Butler and Chief Baker in jail. Remember Joseph was also a prisoner, but he went out of his way to connect and care for other prisoners. If you embrace his model, you will gather experience that is profitable to you; an experience that the world will love to hear or read about, an experience that will inspire and encourage another person not to go into crime, an experience that might bring back humanity in some people.

Unfortunately, most folks don’t know how to utilize the resources within them and around them. So, we focus mostly on what others have, we envy them and compare ourselves with them. We ignore the facts that if we are willing to grow, develop and patiently follow the right principles of life there’ll be no need to cause another person harm or take what belongs to them in order to get what we want.

To utilize the resources within and around you as a prisoner whether innocent or guilty, you should be willing to own your own narrative, rewrite it based on truth and with the intention to minister to someone.

As I write this, I remember a true-life story adapted to a movie called “When they see us”. Five innocent kids were wrongly accused of raping a lady at central park in New York in 1989, after spending about 12 years in jail they were discharged and exonerated. They were compensated according to the American law. However, one guy among them called Korey Wise used and is still using his experience and resources to run a Korey Wise Innocent Foundation. The foundation was founded with the aim of helping people who are innocently jailed with legal representation to gain their freedom. He could only do this after spending twelve years in jail Innocently.

Korey Wise had a choice of using his money for something else. He had a choice to use his experience to feel negative and cheated by the system, but how far can he go with that kind of attitude? On the other hand, he chose to make the best of his resources and experience in trying to help other folks in jail who are innocent like him to gain freedom.

Over the past eight years working in the correctional space in Nigeria and with inmates both awaiting trials and convicted, I have found out that even after the many years spent in jail by some, when eventually released or discharged and acquitted they won’t want to speak about their jail experience. They seem or are actually ashamed to say they have ever been in jail. I met a young man who was our student after his release about three years ago. He practically covered the word ‘prison’ from the T-shirts we gave them when he was in jail. Now he is outside, he doesn’t want to identify with his experience. Almost everyone has an experience and being in jail isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a man or woman, a lost individual identity is worst of all kind of loss.

The power in vulnerability hasn’t been taught to many, we are told to be strong and present ourselves perfect. So, we mask so many things until the masking makes us depressed. Vulnerability is a gate way to releasing toxic experience in most constructive and empowering way. In vulnerability there’s always a message to another. We don’t know how much beauty we have denied and still denying the world and people around us because we are claiming to be strong and perfect. Our experience good or bad should shape our identity for better and not destroy it.

Some are scared of being vulnerable, they will say when I open up, there are people who will use my negative past against me. Without any doubt I’ll say that is true, but you know, people who use our weakness against us or to mock us are weak people. You must not hang your identity and life based on what people’s opinions. Even if what they are saying is true don’t be ashamed of who you are and what you have being through.

Can you imagine being ashamed of your one year, five years or ten years’ experience in jail? When these years are actually part of your life, will you consider these year or years in jail as wasted? Will you love to run away from your shadow? What will you do with your experience?

Our goal is work and walk with the incarcerated towards empowering them with knowledge and skills that will instill in them a new mindset that eschews crime and also give them the confidence to own their story as a tool to blessing the world.

There are folks who haven’t been to jail and will never be to jail but have experienced life in a different dimension. They have seen the bad and ugly side of life. Yet to see the good side of life there’s a necessity they must learn how to utilize their bad and the ugly experience as a springboard to the good life they so desire. How to do this is the biggest challenge for many but I can coach you on this.

Stay tune for another Correctional diary, till then don’t forget “To be the Nigerian you want to see around the world”



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