Saturday, September 29, 2012

A fresh start on life...

September 27, 2012 ~ This is Brandon's 1/2 brother, Mike Stewart. Mike has currently been serving the past almost 11 years behind bars and today he has been released from Tipton Correctional Center and has a fresh start on life. Many of you know I am an open book and my family is really important to me. Like many of us Mike enjoyed his younger years... maybe a little too much. I believe we have all done things we shouldn't have done but many of us never got caught. I wouldn't think twice about drinking and driving and now you couldn't pay me enough to take that chance! Mike was charged with 5 DWI's, child support and has a Class A felony for robbery. This is something that he did during his drug and alcohol years and one that we are not happy about but it's the past and we can't change it. 

One thing that has amazed me over the past 10+ years is the attitude and outlook on life he has maintained. He is a lot like me in the since of looking at the positive side of things. While serving out his sentence he realized that he only has himself to blame and the law did their job. He never involved himself into gang's but rather took care of himself. He would go to work (starting out in the kitchen working up to employment in the prison canteen to most recently working in the wood shop), eat and go back to his cell to watch TV or would draw. He learned how to draw the most beautiful pictures during his time in prison. One thing I love about Mike is that there isn't anything he can't do if he puts his mind to it.

He is very lucky to have an amazing and supportive family including Brandon and I. I recently got involved in a program called BCOTN (Boone County Offenders Transition Network) to understand what services were available to him once he was released. I am working closely with this program to figure out how to get this information to the general public since approximately 40 people per month are released back into Boone County. We want them to be productive citizens and not become repeat offenders of our community.

Mike is very humble. He knows that he can not change the past but he can certainly change the future. He wants a fresh start at life and is willing to do whatever it takes to prove that he is worth something and not just another inmate. I truly believe in my heart that it took almost 11 years of being behind bars in Maximum security all the way down to minimum security prisons to give him enough time to process what has happened. He had to hit rock bottom several times before he would appreciate anything. I feel he is ready to show the world that he is changed for the better.

I ask that you not judge Mike. He has a lot of proving to do and I know he won't let us down. He has a rough road ahead of him but the best part is that he gets to spend time with his mother (who is very sick and we didn't know if she would be alive to see this day) and rekindle true relationships with his children, Morgan who is 20 years old and Mikey who is a senior at Rock Bridge High School and his grandson Ethan who is 3 months old and of course Brandon & I. Sadly I see Mikey going down the same path as his father and I pray that Mike can talk to him and steer him away from that path as he can see the destruction it caused.  Mike will continue to pay for the crimes he committed however he would like to move forward in life and create a good name for himself and that is respectable. I am willing to help him do what needs to be done to repay his debt and become a productive citizen of Columbia, MO.

Choices - by George Jones

"I've had choices since the day that I was born 
There were voices that told me right from wrong  
If I had listened, no I wouldn't be here today  
Living and dying with the choices I've made
I was tempted, by an early age I found I liked drinkin', 

oh, and I never turned it down  
There were loved ones but I turned them all away 
Now I'm living and dying with the choices I've made..."

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