They say that you are a product of your environment and at no time are you more impressionable than you are as a child. It’s easy to judge others and point fingers telling them that they should know better. But what happens when the line between right and wrong is a blurry one marked by ill-suited advisors? One of our recent clients recounts the influences that led him to a life of crime, and how he is turning a new page thanks to Riverside House.
For *Jamal Jackson, it has not been easy growing up as a young black man in a low-income household. His life began with a major disruption. His father abandoned him and although his mother was a caring person, it was tough growing up without a father figure. Not having a father in the home to set an example, he inadvertently looked elsewhere to find out what a man does.
Unfortunately, he grew up with the wrong men who were involved in crime and mischief. He learned about manhood from neighborhood hustlers and drug dealers. Meanwhile, Jamal’s mother worked long hours and was always busy making sure the bills were paid and that there was food in the house.
Jamal himself was very athletic, always playing sports such as football, basketball and running track. For his height and athletic ability, he believes he could have been playing for a college team. Instead, he made the decision to walk in the footsteps of his influencers. One day, all of the bad habits Jamal picked up from hanging around the wrong crowd caused him to be arrested for theft, which landed him in federal prison.
During his incarceration, he spent much time analyzing his life from behind bars. He had always felt like his crimes were justified because he was simply trying to feed his family and make moves to get out of the hood. Unfortunately, his decisions caused him to become another statistic.
Eventually, Jamal was released to live at Riverside House to learn how to reenter in the community as a positive and productive citizen in our residential program. While at the halfway house, Jamal has stated that he has found the confidence to strive for a better path. He feels the people at Riverside House, as well as the case manager assigned to him, are very strong and willing to help him better himself. He has received great guidance to assist him in making productive decisions. Jamal is grateful and is looking forward to reentering the community soon with great confidence that he will not cross the road of crime again, and instead pave a new road for himself to achieve his purpose.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the individual.