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I started my law enforcement career as a security officer at ABC Security. It was a brief stint; I quit due to heavy cocaine use. I was living a low life and needed some structure, a change. I decided to join the US Army after hearing the famous slogans, “Be All That You Can Be,” and “ARMY Strong.” 

To be a defender of the United States was a challenge. Since I was trying to quit the drug habit, I made “I strive for excellence” my mantra and motto. When I received an honorable discharge for medical reasons after a year, my accelerated learning and training with honor were noted. 

After I returned to life as a civilian citizen, I received a lead for a job through word of mouth. My new goal was to get this position as a correctional officer for Pierce County Jail. I took the physical test and was asked several times to do the required 90 sit ups. I became frustrated and walked out. I was also asked to take a different test to be a deputy for the county. This didn’t work out either. I left and went home to my production employment job cooking candy.

I had also hoped to join the police force. After gaining some experience as a police officer, I wanted to join SWAT. Finally, I hoped to retire and, through my grandfather’s contacts at city hall and his work as a councilman, have my own seat on the city council. 

All my plans had soured, but now, I hold new plans and when I successfully accomplish them I can smile, walking to retirement. To stand on your own two feet, to hold your pants up, should be the norm for all.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Monte A. Crawford is a writer incarcerated in California.