Three Strikes But Not Out – SMART Recovery

Three Strikes However Not Out – SMART Restoration


Visitor weblog by Kareem Starkes – J #56138

My identify is Kareem Starkes, I’m 47 years previous and have been incarcerated in California since 1998. My sentence is 60 years to life. This sentence is a results of California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” regulation.

I’ve a previous felony conviction historical past consisting of 1 prior juvenile adjudication at age 17 and one prior grownup felony conviction at age 20. The current conviction is my second grownup conviction. The juvenile adjudication counted as a strike, leading to my being sentenced per the three-strikes regulation.

From 1998 till 2009, the environment in California’s prisons was extraordinarily violent. This violent jail tradition was fostered by each the inmate inhabitants in addition to correctional employees. California’s jail system was then the California Division of Corrections (CDC) with out the “Rehabilitation,” which was added after the federal authorities intervened. It grew to become the California Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as a result of the federal authorities cited CDCR’s overcrowding as constituting merciless and weird punishment for its inmate inhabitants. Because of this, rehabilitation programming started to grow to be extra prevalent inside CDCR’s establishments.

Personally, I’ve been within the “precontemplation stage” of change from the very starting of this current time period of incarceration. Situations inside the state prisons the place I used to be incarcerated have been such that violence was a day-to-day actuality, and it was extraordinarily tough to contemplate something except for day by day survival and prevention of being assaulted and/or killed. I selected a mentality of “go alongside to get alongside” as a method of my very own survival. It was a selection that I made and lived out for nearly 17 years of this time period till each time and circumstances introduced me to a spot the place I may now not deny the need of my having to vary.

My strategy of constructive development and transformation started in 2012 on the age of 36. It was then that I started to hunt assist and to take action by availing myself of the rehabilitative programming being provided inside the institutional settings.  Via rehabilitative programming, coupled with searching for to strengthen my non secular rules and values and relationship with God, I started the method of self-exploration and evaluation. 

I started to embark upon the journey of deeply reflecting upon my life, as a way to determine the factors and occasions the place I discovered myself in determined emotional states which had negatively influenced my thought course of and perspective. I started to determine why I selected to finally undertake self-destructive considering that led to most of the poor selections and choices that I’ve made. These resulted in being engaged in criminality and prison acts which were dangerous to harmless individuals, communities, and to myself.

Rehabilitative programming has been my catalyst for the method of constructive development, change, and the transformation I’m blessed to have undergone. It continues to be a prolonged course of and journey, nonetheless it’s a noble and good endeavor that I really feel privileged to be experiencing.  I’m consistently searching for to be engaged with any type of rehabilitative program and/or group that will present the data, instruments, and life abilities obligatory for me to be residing a accountable and productive life, one that’s rooted in my making residing amends for all of the incorrect and hurt I’ve brought about others.

I’ve reached the place in my life the place my day by day focus has grow to be being in service to others whereas paying ahead the care, help, consideration, and love that so many good folks have invested in me all through my journey of change.

As I proceed to endeavor rehabilitative programming, I discovered of latest and totally different packages which are out there. I got here to be taught of the SMART Restoration program because of a rehabilitative course I engaged in known as “Hustle 2.0”. On this course an inventory of habit restoration packages was given, together with SMART Restoration. I had by no means heard of SMART Restoration earlier than seeing it listed in that guide. I requested my spouse to go surfing and discover details about SMART Restoration. After some investigation my spouse was capable of ship an electronic mail to SMART’s headquarters in Mentor, Ohio they usually started to speak with me.

From there I obtained all the knowledge wanted to start a SMART Restoration assembly. I completely love the SMART Restoration program and all of its Cognitive Behavioral Remedy (CBT) instruments. The CDCR has just one CBT program known as Cognitive Behavioral Intervention (CBI), which consists of two in-person group conferences. This CBI programming being provided by CDCR is an excellent program, nevertheless, this can be very tough for individuals to be positioned into this system. 

The beauty of the SMART Restoration program is that it’s a CBT based mostly program consisting of comparable CBT based mostly instruments to CBI. The distinction between the 2 is that in contrast to the CBI program, the SMART Restoration program is designed in such a means that no licensed clinician is required to facilitate this system. Additionally, this system construction is such that any individual needing to start a SMART Restoration assembly group might accomplish that by merely following the SMART Restoration format and getting it going. 

On this means, extra of the inhabitants inside our institutional group could also be given the chance to be uncovered to and avail themselves of the CBT instruments and life abilities essential to result in constructive change. This occurs with out having to be positioned on any ready listing and having their journey and strategy of restoration placed on maintain because of administrative determinants and constraints.

I’m grateful for having obtained the help of the SMART Restoration employees I’m in touch with. I presently facilitate two voluntary males’s help teams that I’ve created right here at my facility. I’m at present within the strategy of beginning an InsideOut: A SMART Restoration Correctional Program® assembly group right here at my facility. The InsideOut program is designed for incarcerated people. The lads right here will vastly profit from the InsideOut program as I have already got. Assist for the InsideOut group starting has been phenomenal with our group right here, so I’m excited in regards to the journey forward of starting SMART Restoration InsideOut right here at Ironwood State Jail.

It’s mentioned that the place one door closes, one other is opened.  SMART Restoration ought to be in all of CDCR’s establishments, and I’m dedicated to doing my half in making this a actuality. As CDCR has grow to be dedicated to rehabilitative programming, there may be completely no purpose why SMART Restoration conferences and InsideOut usually are not on the prime of CDCR’s rehabilitative programming listing! Let’s Go SMART Restoration!


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If you’re focused on habit restoration help, we encourage you to go to the SMART Restoration web site.


For those who or somebody you’re keen on is in nice misery and contemplating self-harm, please name 911 for instant assist, or attain out to The Nationwide Suicide Prevention Hotline @800-273-8255,

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