By Federal Inmate Edwin Rubis #79282-079 , serving 40 years for a nonviolent marijuana conspiracy offense
The year is starting off slowly. Christmas is behind us, and everything is returning back to the normal maddening monotonous routine of prison life.
I didn’t receive any Christmas visits from my family this year. But a friend of mine did come to see me. Although it was refreshing to see someone from the “free world”, as I like to call it, I wish it could have been under different circumstances, in some place other than a crowded room the size of a school classroom with everyone speaking over one another at the same time. My friend Carter and I had to literally raise our voices above normal to hear each other.
Prison visits are like this. Crowded and oppressively uncomfortable, not so much for the one who is receiving the visit, but for the one who is actually visiting. There are so many rules to follow that your visitor ends up feeling like not wanting to come back.
You can only embrace and shake hands with your visitors, your children, and family members once when they first come in, and of course, when they leave. Once seated, you cannot have any physical contact with your visitors nor play with your children as you would like to.
I don’t know if the prison intentionally discourages prison visits by making it as inconvenient as possible, but one thing they do claim: the rules are put in place to promote safety in the furtherance of “legitimate penological interests” … whatever that means.
One thing is for certain though, instead of promoting family ties between you and your loved ones, and rehabilitation for the confined individual, it actually diminishes it and creates greater emotional distance and strain between inmates and families and the community.
I am a true recipient of the consequential results of a prison system which isn’t designed to reintegrate you back into society. It is quite the opposite. It serves to alienate you as far as possible from society.
I have still yet to see a broad conscientious scientific approach to truly rehabilitate the prisoner in confinement; to effectively prepare him to-reenter back into a ‘free world’ which considers him incorrigible. For once released, the stigma of a prior conviction, which seems to hang as a dark cloud over his head, haunts him every day of his life, always closing the doors of opportunity due to a past that he or she cannot escape from; even after having already served a prison sentence for the crime committed.
Edwin Rubis: My New Year’s Resolution for 2020
So what can I say about a New Year’s resolution? The words just don’t resonate with me. I see all these different ads on television promoting different commercial products to enhance one’s New Year’s resolution in a more unique and effective way, and wish I could benefit from the usage of them, but that would be a miracle in itself.
Believe me, I am not trying to sound negative, but my New Year’s resolution is, and has always been, to do the best that I can with what I’ve got, behind prison walls. But even that optimistic approach can quickly turn sour.
For instance, if I’m trying to get in top physical shape, I’m not afforded the proper nutrition and exercise equipment to carry it out. If I want to build muscle, I have to rely on homemade contraband weights made out plastic bags full of sand or water, which are constantly being taken and discarded by prison staff, once discovered. The only aerobic exercise equipment we are afforded is pull up bars, old exercise bikes, and two run-down treadmills for 900 or so inmates to use. Again, such deprivation is due to “safety concerns and legitimate penological interests”, or so the prison claims.
Prisoners Are Masters at Improvising
Over the years, I’ve literally had to learn to improvise ways to attain what I am trying to accomplish. To educate myself, I have had to overcome my financial limitations and the negative environment that’s constantly reminding me that I’m a lost cause and cannot accomplish anything worthwhile, so why try.
To get in top physical shape, I have had to mentally prepare each day by finding ways to eat properly, even if it involves trading part of my main course in the mess hall – with other inmates – to eat vegetables and fruit.
To find peace in the midst of this tumultuous storm and nightmarish ordeal, I have had to make a concerted effort to find my spiritual center and adhere to it continuously so I won’t go crazy.
So this year I’m embracing my New Year’s resolution, as I have for the last 21 years, under a forced optimistic approach. If I embrace it any differently, I’ll only be diminishing my potential of what I can become, and the only person I’ll be damaging is myself.
At the beginning of every new year, I make a commitment to be better than the year before: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. So far, I have kept myself in pretty good physical shape. I’ve learned to play more musical instruments. I’ve learned how to effectively mentor others with life changing principles. I am at the end of finishing my Master’s degree, hopefully by the end of February.
I have devoted my life to becoming a better individual. The only thing that sometimes depresses me is not having the opportunity to thrive in a social environment, in a place that’s not built with mesh-wire steel fences and humongous concrete walls.
This New Year’s resolution for me is like every other past year. One that can be discouraging, oppressive, and bitterly hopeless.
But regardless of it, I refuse to feel like a victim. I refuse to give up or give in to the injustice I’ve already suffered at the hands of America’s unjust marijuana conspiracy laws, and continue to move on forward ever attempting to make the best out of a ridiculous situation in such a horrible place as prison.
Edwin Rubis is serving a 40-year sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense. Yeah! 40 years! Crazy, huh? What can you do? Pray, share on social media, write your legislators, tweet President Trump, and use #freedwinrubis.
How To Write to Edwin:
Edwin Rubis # 79282-079
Talladega, AL 35160″