My journey from ‘product of’ to ‘creator of’

Illustration by Yasin Yusuf on Unsplash

My environment as a child

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

My environment in prison

When my over-adaptation landed me in jail and I was thrown in the juvenile block, I woke up that first morning to discover someone had taken my breakfast and I had to fight for my food. I was really scared, but after I learned that violence ruled the day and the more violent you were, the better off you’d be, I conformed. I became “a product of” once again. This was my indoctrination into prison life.

When there is no tangible possibility of another life, the only reality is the present. Photo by Javier Esteban on Unsplash

My change point

It was that disciplinary infraction that caused the judge to deny my request for freedom. And it was that action, along with the taste of an almost-free, dignified life, that snapped me out of my 30-year-to-life mentality and brought the realization that I could be a creator of my destiny — not a “product of.” I now understand I can’t straddle the fence. I know that to succeed in society, I will have to surround myself with like-minded people. I know that I have to truly dedicate myself to being the man I want to be — and know I am.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
More Than Our Crimes

More Than Our Crimes

Rob Barton has been incarcerated for 26 years. Pam Bailey is his collaborator/editor. Learn more at