United States Penitentiary Atwater officially launches the MEN S.T.O.P! Program:
An inmate-led initiative aimed at reducing prison violence.
Atwater, California- On December 2, 2011 United States Penitentiary Atwater officially launched the MEN S.T.O.P! Program. MEN S.T.O.P! is an acronym for: (Men the Solution To Our Problems).
The MEN S.T.O.P! Program is the evolution of a program called O.N.E.W.A.Y. (Organizing New Endeavors With America’s Youth) In 2008, as part of the ONE WAY program, for the first time in the history of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, children from the ages of 13 to 17 were allowed behind the walls of a maximum security prison (USP Big Sandy) to partake in the ONEWAY program. The program’s aim was to inform youth where the path of drug abuse, crime, peer-pressure and parental neglect can lead them. This program was a great success but, because of administrative changes at U.S.P. Big Sandy, the program lost its sponsors and support, which equated to the program being shut down. As the Co-Founder and the creator of the courses and curriculum for ONEWAY, Demond A. Jackson has now created the MEN S.T.O.P! Program.
MEN S.T.O.P! provides an assortment of mentoring and prevention programs to best meet the needs of the incarcerated and at-risk youth in America. The MEN S.T.O.P! Program mission is to successfully replace gang membership, geographical affiliation and religious division with MEN S.T.O.P! Membership and a pledge of commitment (see MEN S.T.O.P! Pledge). The MEN S.T.O.P! philosophy is “Changing the equation…Changes the solution.” The inmates and youth who will participate in this program are the equation, so by effecting the equation in a positive and meaningful way we create solutions to our problems.
MEN S.T.O.P! Program believes in “Quality over Quantity”. Its courses explore self and society to help the participant acquire self-understanding and the qualities that are needed to successfully change, realize their potential and make positive contributions to society. Ultimately, the goal of Men S.T.O.P. is to develop quality leaders; with the understanding that one quality leader can affect a nation.
MEN S.T.O.P! is erasing the gang, racial, geographical and religious lines that once segregated these men and is replacing those lines with diversity and a philosophy of “Each one, teach one…” MEN S.T.O.P! simply provides the knowledge, understanding and the venue these men need to share their stories, talents, wants, needs and to learn– how, why and what they need to successfully rehabilitate themselves. The program teaches inmate participants that their debt to society is not paid simply because they were sentenced or after they have served their sentence. The program leads participants to understand that all men whom have great knowledge, ability or who have been incarcerated have a social obligation. It’s their responsibility to effect their communities and our nation in a positive way. In order to fulfill this social obligation, MEN S.T.O.P. believes that participants must put twice the energy into uplifting our society as they did when they were taking away from our communities in a negative way.
MEN S.T.O.P. participants are utilizing technology, specifically LIVEFROMLOCKDOWN.COM, as a platform to reengage their respective communities, share their stories and, as credible messengers, exert a positive influence on today’s youth. Live From Lockdown will publish inmates’ bios and regular blog posts.
Program success is not based on the quantity of participants who complete our programs. But rather on the quality of change we create in our participants whom are considered to be the worst of the worst. We strive to change those who have severe violent histories or aggressive criminal mindsets. Their change is how our success is gauged. If the program is deemed successful, we hope to replicate the program at other institutions and work with the Bureau of Prisons to further reduce prison violence.
When you hear or read the stories of the MEN S.T.O.P! Members understand that they’ve come a long way in a short amount of time. Acknowledge the quality of change they’ve made, the quality of men they are, and the quality of experience, information and knowledge they provide. Do not confuse their stories or passion in which they speak for trying to “Scare Straight”. We believe that fear can, more times than not, be the motivation to make negative decisions or be a risk taker. Some who have lived a life of crime, have used fear for the adrenaline rush it creates. And that adrenaline rush has been the drug of their choice. But the best result for any type of change will and always comes from “Knowledge and Understanding”. That’s why our first line of defense for “prevention” is teaching each participant “knowledge of self”. By understanding self and what they are capable of, program participants can set a course for were they want to be.
Please embrace the knowledge within each participant’s story and understand the lessons their stories convey. Because we believe that those who once created the problem, are the most qualified to finding the solution to the problem.
“Because experience is…and will always be the best teacher”.
MEN S.T.O.P! Founder
Demond A. Jackson
MEN S.T.O.P! was founded by Demond A. Jackson with the assistance and support of Warden Hector Rios, Assistant Warden Swartz, Chaplain Jones, Education Department Supervisor Mr. Chavez. Educational Staff Mr. Tesone, and Counselor Mr. Coggins.