My name is Sylvester Byrd, Jr. I have been incarcerated since 1995. I'm serving a 60-year sentence. At 44 I've had a lot to think on, improve upon and overall make a conscious decision to be a better person.
When I first came to prison, I had been given an impression by the powers that be that I was the worst type and my life would be within these walls. So, with that belief, I acted out like any other grown child would.
It wasn't until a few prison staff members pulled me aside and pretty much gave me the “you can do better” pep talk that I began to change my way of thinking. They plus likeminded people began to help me with programming and other classes. I realized that as our current system kept sending me out of state, the more I began to want to program. When out of state I regressed and simply didn't care.
I think programs helped. RSAT, thinking programs, Anger Management, where your peers can bring behaviors to you. Incentives worked well.
If I were to go back, I would have taught myself skills to keep me out of mischief and a way to build credit within the system because there was times that having a bit of change could have stopped me from havoc.
I would reiterate I am not a lost cause and all can be better if they choose.