The first thing I learned in prison was that I was nobody. Any day could be my last. I needed to be small, but strong. I needed to be humble, but brave.
I also needed to read a lot, work out and get a job in the law library. I needed a squad of two or three select comrades to eat, play cards and walk around the yard with. I needed to avoid drugs, gambling and sex — all sources of potential conflict. I needed to be smart, think ahead and plan. If backed in a corner, I needed to stand tall. Overall, I needed to love my mutilated life, to be hopeful and not fear death.
I learned these and other lessons during almost 13 years in prison for manslaughter, before being paroled in 2003. Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former Congressman and mayoral candidate who has been sentenced to prison himself for sexting a 15 year-old girl, would be wise to keep this advice in mind as he contemplates how to survive and become a better human being — or at least not a worse one.
It isn’t easy, but it can be done.