According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, I’m among a 15 – 20 percent population of people who never returned to prison after being released. My name is Mike Palombi. I am the Author of the award winning memoir, How’s It Feel, Tough Guy? From Prisoner of Pride to Prisoner of Hope, and while I never returned to prison in thirty years, I still can’t get on Angie’s List! Are you kidding me! I’ve been a contractor since the day I left prison, and not by choice, but because no one else would hire me. I guess that old saying, “forgive and forget” doesn’t really apply to ex-felons because Angie just won’t let me on her list. Why? Because I still can’t pass a background check which is part of the criteria to be on her list in the first place. That’s not Angie’s fault though. That’s our government’s fault and that’s the first reason for starting this blog. I want to provide a place where people can come and interact responsibly with an ex-felon who has overcome the entanglements of prison and the behaviors that led me there to discuss seriously, ideas about prison reform and re-entry.
The second reason for starting this blog; JESUS CHRIST! To some people I just said two really bad words but one of the things I like about the name of Jesus is, for better or for worse, I always get a response and I want to hear your responses to my blog posts. I want responses and opinions that are substantive and respectful. There’s no requirement for you to agree with my position on prison reform or my faith in Jesus Christ. Now, having said that, you’re probably going to want to know the answer to what other people ask me all the time and that is, “Mike, how’d you change your life?” to which I’m going to answer, “Jesus Christ!” Actually, the answer is a bit more complicated but rest assured, my transformation is directly related to my faith life.
Struggles with addiction, incarceration, bankruptcy and divorce, are just some of the trials that led me to have a relationship with God and an understanding of my need for a Savior. Now, I know having a relationship with Jesus Christ isn’t so popular these days but can I be honest? I stopped worrying about being popular when I went to prison. I’m here for people who want to change their life or may want to gain some insight from the experiences I’ve had as they try to help others who they love and may be struggling in a big way. The statistics don’t lie when it comes to the issues of recidivism and relapse. The only reason I am counted among a 15-20 percent population of people who never returned to prison is predominantly because my relationship with Jesus Christ changed the condition of my heart. Transformation requires a change of heart!
We say in Celebrate Recovery, “If nothing changes, nothing changes!” That cute little quip, is a powerful statement in response to the tragedy of recidivism in the United States, and equally powerful as it relates to the concerns of an approach to life that keeps experiencing the same consequences for making the same bad choices. Can I say, INSANITY?!
One last thing for you to consider before I go, and I know what I am about to say is going to contradict what I just said about the statistics not lying, but it’s worth considering. If you are finding yourself in that cycle and struggle of recidivism or relapse, I want you to know that the statistic indicating 15 – 20 percent of ex-felons never returning to prison isn’t exactly forthcoming. The truth is, 15–20 percent of ex-felons never return to prison because a large percent of that population dies before they are fortunate enough to be locked up again or enter into a drug treatment program. Friends, don’t be caught dead! People who put poison in their body, and people who put their lives in harm’s way, are people who do not value their lives and if you are one of those people, (and I have been) ask yourselves this question, “Why don’t I value my life?”