Category Archives: Justice reform

2CU: Stick / Sanity and Steel Doors

In prison, sanity is balanced by lost years and steel doors. Stick takes our workshop audiences on a quick mental venture as he compares freedom to lines captivity.

Sanity and Steel Doors
Sanity and Steel Doors

2nd Chance University keeps the experience real, giving all a taste of what life behind bars is like in an effort to pull workshop participants back onto their path.

Stick

Lines are formed in a silent hypnotic manner as we are told how to walk, where to sit, and when to think. Don’t talk or act on your own initiative, for those things are reserved for the free world.

Obey, work, obey, work, and then you notice a faraway look in your coworker’s cold gray eyes. Where is he looking?

For some it’s 2025 and for others 2040. Still others can only look back in time to that one precious thought, that real moment in time, freedom, knowing they will never hold freedom ever again.

Interactive Insight

In the eyes of an ex-convict, what do you think freedom means? Why would Stick claim they will never hold freedom ever again?

  • To an ex-convict, what do you believe freedom means?

After our work day we silently shuffle down the quarter-mile-long hallway that connects to our wings. They lead us to our six-by-nine-foot homes.

Cruel steel doors loudly slam behind us as we step inside the small, dreary existence of home. The few possessions we are allowed to keep try to fill the emptiness of our cement boxes.

Pictures from home, a small plastic radio and commissary goods are no match for the colorless white and gray that overwhelms our comfortless cells. But in this apathetic world these small concessions mean as much as having a ten thousand dollar bank account in the free-world.

Interactive Insight

  • If you were in prison, what possessions would you hold most dear and why

Day becomes night and night becomes day with little variation in most of our lives.

We think back on past mistakes that relentlessly chew on our memories.

For most of us these memories are hurtful and hateful things we try to erase, but they continue to creep, crawling into our awareness like a stinging scorpion. Heartaches and headaches are now measured in choices that were wrong.

Sanity is balanced by lost years and steel doors.

We suffer from a broken past and a distant, uncertain future of when and how. When are we going to get out, and how? Walking or carried out feet first?

Depression and doubt constantly lurk in the shadows of our mind. Insanity hides just behind them.

Interactive Insight

  • Do you believe Stick’s words ring true to what it’s like in prison? Why or why not? What do you think prison is like on the soul and sanity?

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly.

For those wishing to introduce 2CU and our programs into an organization, institution, or facility, step forward; together we can make a difference.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
2nd Chance University
http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.org
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

2CU: Justice-Involved Programs

2nd Chance University is a non-profit dedicated to educating, employing, and empowering the justice-involved. Our 18-book, 4-6 month intensive programs take an aggressive interactive approach founded by trauma-informed care, behavioral modification, and consciousness consequence theory.

2nd Chance University programs serve youth (14-17 years of age), adult diversion to incarceration (18-24 years of age, low level offense), and adult pre/post release.

Our material and workshops take advantage of real people, real life, and real issues. Virtual participants throughout the pages are real and so is their story.

During these submission we bring core characters to the forefront, are not censored, and depict life during and after arrest factually. I encourage each reader to follow the stories, respond to the questions, and regain lost hope.

At this time, let me introduce Stick, a solid contributor and has been with 2nd Chance University since 2012.

  • Served 11 ½ years in one of the hardest penal systems in the country, Texas.

Doing time: A tall raw-boned red headed man sat next to me in the holding cell. He said his name was Red. We talked a little and he told me he was in for stabbing his girlfriend with a pitchfork. She didn’t die.

But,” he said, “She won’t be looking at any other men now!”

I asked, “Why’s that?”

Red said, “I stuck the pitchfork in her face and the prongs went into her eyes, so now she can’t see.”

A cold chill went up my spine as I looked at this pasty faced man, I didn’t comment, but moved a few inches away.

Stick

Insight: What life and everyday choices will you give up by going to prison?

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In future articles, we will learn more about Stick, Duck, and others as they share their story.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for those who have stumbled within our justice system as they regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly. For those wishing to introduce 2CU and our programs into an organization, institution, or facility, please step forward.

Danny Huffman
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org
2nd Chance University

Second Chance… Think Again.

“To say is not to do. To do is to say.”
Duck

For those who do not know Duck, he is simply a man.
A man who spent 13 years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit
but still walks a path defined by society
unwilling to offer second chances.

We’ve heard it many times and at many levels: “Everybody deserves a second chance.” But what does that really mean? Does society truly offer second chances? Do you, really?

Duck is not a bitter man.
He is simply a man wishing to live his life peacefully
and with equal opportunity.

From employment to housing to EVERYTHING in between, rare are the few offering second chances. Perhaps it is because we all have our own lives to live and who needs “fear” to be in the equation if possible… am I right ladies? Don’t think I need to explain the last line or justify what most think.

For the person, organization, potential employer, and the hypocrite pretending otherwise, stop saying and begin doing. Give others, all others no matter their race or stumbled background, a chance to be the person he or she is meant to be. It’s pretty simple, stopping the madness begins by stopping the talk and doing the do.

Duck is man refusing defeat.
He is simply a man who has been escorted off jobs
in front of crowds because a crime he didn’t commit.

Empowering and employing begins with YOU, not by what you say but by what you do.

I ask one thing from you: Be true to yourself and those around you. Stop the bull, keep what you say real, and if you don’t believe (and live the life) in second chances, stop pretending you do.

Duck, like the millions who have stumbled, will rise to the challenge of humbling himself every step along the journey…
with or without you.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for those who have stumbled within our justice system as they regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

Duck is a man offering importance.
His experience, struggles, and story is threaded throughout 2nd Chance University’s programs inspiring those
who have also stumbled.

We are seeking partnerships to bring our programs to communities across the nation. If you work with or know of organizations, work force centers, penal institutions, and/or judges and district attorneys committed to changing people’s path, bring it on. Together we can change the world, one person at a time.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

 

Balancing Consequence and Intent

But I intended to… not my fault it did not work out as planned.

Looking at my own experience over the years, the gap between intent and consequence is beyond measure; but not beyond the every-moment pain. No doubt we all share the gap; the only difference resides in the degree (of self-deception).

In most aspects we lean toward the side of intent, often ignoring consequence. How do we regain the balance where consequence and culpability are the primary characteristic of who we are?

Intent: a shallow consideration highlighted by mentally laziness or a self-serving delusion.

Consequence: Emotional, psychological, and overall outcome of action — be it in words or in the physical.

Instead of rehashing the past, let’s move on to today and examine one of the core reasons why intent and consequence rarely run parallel: self-delusion.

What is self-delusion? By my definition, it is closed-eye reality where all one sees is the darkness of inner want.

Truth is, the past is the past so now all we can do is come up with a plan to regain balance and live a life where choice and action run closer as one.

Career: When it comes to work, shrugging off responsibility or cleansing your hands by shouldering burdens to another is not a sign balance, this is a sign of self-deception. As a business owner, when tough decisions are needed to be made such as lay-offs or pay increases, I don’t look at employee intent, I evaluate balance between intent and consequence. I look for employees who accept responsibility, who own the mission, who don’t put burdens on fellow peers, and whose intent is consistent with consequence.

Justice-Involved: Our non-profit is about giving second chances and our intense programs have been developed to open eyes, accept responsibility, bring intent and consequences closer, and to secure a path where freedom, respect, and success become part of each person’s core. In this capacity, we hear the stories of “it was not meant to happen this way,” “it’s not my fault,” “there is nothing I can do about my situation,” and so many more excuses pushing intent to the next level… there is no balance within those making excuses for their failure.

Under the umbrella of balancing consequence and intent, there are a few things we can ALL do now to get it right (or at least not so wrong):

  • Think BEFORE you do
  • Be the other person and consider his/her feelings
  • Make a list of what might go wrong and what will happen if it does (and the worst case usually happens – prove me wrong
  • Recognize there are only TWO choices: the right thing or the wrong thing

By following the four bullets above, changes will happen in your life… no matter tribulations of the past.

In your career, make choices based upon outer-vision, not inner self-delusion.

For those with a stumbled background, be who you are meant to be, not who others think you have become.

In conclusion, I ask you take the first step: take ownership in your life… only you control YOU, no more excuses or playing the victim.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for those who have stumbled within our justice system as they regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

At current, we are seeking partnerships to bring our programs to communities across the nation. If you work with or know of organizations, work force centers, penal institutions, and/or judges and district attorneys committed to changing people’s path, bring it on. Together we can change the world, one person at a time.

Danny Huffman
2nd Chance University
407-878-0474
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

Journey to a Non-Profit

Grew up eye-shot of La Tuna, Federal Correctional Institution, in Vinton, Texas. Living close enough to be part of the environment, I wondered what it was like to be on the inside.

Pushing several years into the future, I became a 16-year old outfielder with a family organized softball team. Scheduled to play against several prison (trustee) teams, we were given the privilege to go inside.

Frightened as our van approached for the first time, this 16-year old imagined hardened muggers, killers, rapists, and all around monsters. No doubt television and culture told me what to expect… I drank the juice.

Too often, reality and truth simply does not mean the same thing. I spoke to several of the monsters on the inside and before long, socially twisted perceptions was replaced with “how could I have gotten it so wrong?”

Backed by a lineage of family, direct and indirect, seeing both sides of freedom, I knew the men and women who have stumbled needed more than social/cultural/employment stigma. Over the years I’ve worked with many on the inside and found their self-perception generally accepted their lives and futures to be fated by loss and failure… where mirror’s reflection is empty of Hope.

Close to 20 years ago I got involved with a company which produced professional development courseware and programs. Though designed for the executive, I knew this was a stepping stone to bridge my path alongside those who have been misplaced along their way.

In 2003 I began the groundwork for 2nd Chance University but timing (and money) prevented progress. Leaping to 2012, Christian HELP and the Central Florida Jobs Initiative provided a medium to perfect my program and provide an evidence-based system.

Numbers were more than impressive but something was lacking. Upon pushing, was informed these two organizations disqualified those with a justice-involved background from the program I developed.

Months later, we parted ways. At that time, necessity dictated an

E to the 3rd

onward throttle to customize a program for those needing support, guidance, and tools to gain Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

Will continue on what happened next shortly. Until then, be kind, be the key,

Danny

America: Land of the (In)visible

Writing provided by Duck who spent 13 years incarcerated; now finding a home as contributor and facilitator/trainer with 2nd Chance University, a non-profit dedicated to those who have stumbled.

For those who have been (or are currently) justice-involved, being invisible occupies a rather peculiar stance with even more atypical consequence.

For those not justice-involved, imagine a world where eye contact is not allowed, no soul searching or glimpsing into the spirit of the silenced number striding side by side.

Living behind bars means no identity other than 6 or 7 digits surrounding his or her every move. Think ab out how your sense of identity would be without a name and with an objectified history defining your Looking Glass Self theory.

For those without a justice-involved scratch or dent, take a look in the mirror, strip the reflective image of who/what you think you see, and then wipe away all of you with a single stretch. From this day forward, in place of what you thought you saw moments ago, resides a blemished blur.

In accordance to being invisible, for the next 24 hours, there can be no eye contact, there can be no talk without directly being told you have permission to speak, there can be no mobility beyond set geographic boundaries, there can be no choice, no smiles (this will be seen as a sign of weakness), there can be no friends, no companionship, no nothing (sorry for the poor grammar).

Imagine, for these 24 hours, when people looked at you, they saw something less than human, something not worthy of respect, something not deserving of consideration, empathy, or a second chance. Imagine how these emotions and actions will toy with your mind and sense of self-worth not just for the moment, but for your lifetime (and your families).

Imagine that even after this 24-hour experience, time kept on and you were forever defined as less than human.

Truth is, for those who are justice-involved, rightly or wrongly, he or she will never wash their skin of past sins, society won’t let them, lenders won’t let them, employers won’t let them, and, in most cases, YOU won’t let them.

What does it mean to be invisible? There’s no such concept as no matter who you are, others see and define based upon pre-conceived misconceptions supporting personal agendas and deficiencies.

Is America the land of hope, of understanding, of second chances? Do I really need to answer that? Perhaps now is the time for America to be.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for our youth as well as our adult population who have stumbled to regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman
Founder, Journeyman
321-972-8919

Trauma Informed Care, Yesterday to Today

Being a non-profit working with young and old adults involved within the criminal justice system, we hear the term Trauma Informed Care more often than not. As a matter of fact, the term, especially when dealing with alternatives to incarceration, our criminal justice system, and effective reintegration, is in the limelight right now. According to those in the know:

Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

I remember growing up and how the word trauma was tagged (exclusively) to a military setting. No doubt, heading off to war can (and often will) directly affect the individual; of that there is little dispute. Way back when, it was rare that anyone not directly involved with the military was recognized as shouldering post-traumatic stress.

Unfortunately, family members left behind were often forgotten about or brushed to the side when it came to trauma… out of sight… their voice was rarely heard.

Jumping from childhood to well into adulthood, the consequence of trauma has been expanded to those outside of the military to include individuals indirectly involved in the incident or event. With such an expansion recognized, recovery is being addressed in a more effective manner… no more out of sight… their voice will be heard.

By today’s standards, traumatic experiences requiring care ranges from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. When it comes to our vulnerable youth and the effects of trauma, the world, neighborhood, and home can create an ever-lasting impression on the heart, mind, and soul; without proper care, these youth are at risk.

Beneath the trauma inducing umbrella are events such as:

Natural disaster
Death of a loved one
Being in a car accident
Child witnessing home abuse
Family member going to prison
Loud noises, gun shots being heard
Shootings and/or neighborhood fighting
Child being the victim of abuse, physical and/or emotional

The above is not all-inclusive but should give you an idea as to what we are dealing with.

On a personal level, the following happened years ago, which, if handled incorrectly, could have changed the path of two very young boys:

When my two boys were just three and four years of age, I purchased two living ducklings as an Easter present (before you panic, we lived on a farm so this was normal activity). My boys were in total awe at the new addition and insisted the ducks stayed in the house. I allowed.

On the second night, the new addition remained inside and in a cardboard box like the night before. After much quacking and smelling of duck poop, around 4:00 am, I placed the cardboard box outside, just within reach of the door. Unfortunately the night was a bit too cold and the ducks did not make it.

My boys woke to the sound of silence as they stepped out to an unexpected event. They both were very upset, shed tears, and did not understand what had happened. That morning, I sat the boys down and explained in a calm and empathetic way what had happened. Over the next few days we had gentle and sensitive talks about it and before long, all was fine.

Though insignificant in comparison, if handled without care and empathy, the event could have made a rippling psychological scar of one or both of my boys.

If a traumatic event happens to someone in your life, do know there are general things one can do to minimize lifelong effects. In my situation outlined above, I remained patient and understanding, allowing deep and meaningful discussions (even though the boys were very young, they deserved respect, a voice, warmth, and empathy).

Simply being there is the first step, as for second and third steps, we’ll review what the experts in the field suggest in articles to come.

To help all of us progress, I welcome your stories to be added into our series.

If you chose to share, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman,
Founder and Journeyman
2nd Chance University