Monday, August 19, 2013

William Conway's Story

My name is William Conway and I'm an inmate in the South Dakota State Penitentiary, serving a 15 year sentence for 1st Degree Armed Robbery. I'm much more then that though. Believe me, figuring that out was the hard part.

You see prison has a  way of making you look at yourself. Some take only a glance and, not liking what you see, stop looking. Others though look deep inside themselves. As you look you beging to ask yourself the  questions that really need to be answered. Y0u start to ask the questions that can lead to change. Let me tell you something. If you've lived a life that led you to prison then changing should be pretty high on your priority list.

So what are these questions? A good start is: Who am I really? What am I about? Inevitably you'll get to a pretty standard question every inmate asks themselves during their time. To me, answering this question with unflinching honesty is what makes all the difference between experiencing real change and staying the same. That question is: How did I get here? Understanding our past is a key component to building a positive future. We must have a clear view of where we've been in order to better navigate the road ahead. A couple of things to clarify this thought.

One: Honestly assessing our past, while discouraged by some, is critical to avoiding similar or the same pitfalls that have gotten us into trouble before. We must examine the road begind to teach us wht turns to not take and what roads to avoid altogether.

Two: While I believethis rearview assessment is ncessary. It is important to not stare into the past for long periods(Obsessing) Doing so wil almost surely cause a cruash. For some, there is so much wreckage behind us that taking in too much at one time causes us to throw our hands up in defeat. Feeling overwhelmed by the task. We cannot allow ourselves to give up. If we do we  are destined to repeat these same mistakes because we still have not learned from them.

Still as hard as it may be, we cannot be half hearted with our level of honesty. For honest self-appraisal is a key to lasting change. It is easy to blame the system, our up bringing, our addictions and others. However, without truly owning our part in the choices that we have made we run the risk of surrendering the only power we do have. The power of choice. In the past we may not have felt like we had much choice in the things we did. We were slaves to our worapped perceptions and destructive patterns.

However, having now become aware of our power of choice we have the opportunity to choose differently. What a freedom this can be. As inmates, our choices may be limited in some ways. What we wear, what we eat, even who we live with are sometimes not up to us. The choices that really matter through are ours. How we act and react to situations. What we say and how we think even.

Before we may have said and done things simply out of reflex. Even now, the prison environment tries to dictate our behavior with the idea tha we have to live by a certain code(so-and -so said this or did that so I must react i nthis way). This is a fallacy.  No matter the situation we are free to choose our response. So it is imperative that we slow down and take the time to choose wisely.

We must also remember that change is not only a process but a continuous one at that. It is a work that will never be done. As we change and grow what's important to us is likely to do the same. We must continue to examine ourselves and our motives daily. So that we don't fall back into patterns of destructive behavior. The door to personal freedom is opened and closed by our choices. What will you choose today?


"Willaim Conway is 32 years old from Sioux Falls S. He was raised in NW Iowa where his parents and younger sister still live. He has a wonderful fiance' who he looks forward to marrying after his release. He has 7 children, 40 boys, and 3 girls, and is working to rebuild his relationships where possible.

He is an active member of the cornerstone Prison Church and is on the Outreach Committee there. He is also an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) facilitator and he often meets one-n-one and in s mall groups to discus recovery and rehabilitation.

He hopes to one day be a part of a ministry that helps others like himself but also youth. So that they many avoid similar problems. For now he is focused on becoming a better father, being the sort of man his fiance' deserves, but most especially a better man of God."

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