Category Archives: Daniel Turner

SOCRATES IN PRISON

Among other things, Socrates said: “Having the fewest wants, I am closest to the gods.” In prison, I like to think of this as the idea that external things aren’t as important as what’s inside. If you have yourself, your mind, you have everything you need. And even as an atheist, I admire this sentiment. I just replace “the gods” with “greatness” or “understanding.”

Dan Turner
DOC# 767569

POLITICS IN PRISON

I’m talking about actual politics (like what is happening in the presidential race), rather than “prison politics” (like what the latest gossip on the yard is). I always here the same thing from the people who like Donald Trump: he says what he means without fear. Yes, well, so does a five-year-old. And so does every asshole bully that I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a lot). The point is WHAT he’s saying. And all I here is blatant, nativist fear-mongering: going after immigrants and Muslims, and promising manufacturing jobs and trade protectionism, will make your life better. Well, it won’t. And people are going to be continue to be disillusioned with the politicians they elect until they realize that their own views are faulty, and their politicians are just reflecting that.

Dan Turner
DOC# 767569

RESPONSIBILITY IN PRISON

I categorize most guys in prison in two general ways. The first group don’t like to admit that they did anything wrong. They say that what they did was justified, or they got screwed in some way, that if you look at the facts, you’ll see that they’re the real victim. This is very typical behavior and a part of human nature, our need to cast ourselves as the hero of our story. Then the other group, they’re fatalistic. They say that they’re basically doomed to be how they are, and even if they want to change, they couldn’t.

Both positions are extreme, of course, and both are methods of denying responsibility and free will. And these, I think, are the two biggest roadblocks to cognitive change. For me, I used the first method until I finally started to wise up. The great news about this type of thing is that it IS fixable. You can do something about it, you can change.

Dan Turner
DOC# 767569

SELF-CONTROL IN PRISON

The more I go on in this place, the more I see the crude or even destructive behavior of guys in prison as attempts to exercise some control over their lives. Hell, I even have to admit that some of the rationale I had (even if I didn’t realize it at the time) for committing my crime was wanting self-control. And of course, if your self-esteem is low (as mine was, pathologically so), you feel that urge all the more acutely, and being unsophisticated and immature, you try to exercise it in anti-social or even criminal ways.

I think guys in here need to stop viewing authority as some kind of adversary that needs to be controlled, and rather as something that you can use as a means to an end. THAT will give you control in your life. That’s how I’ve done it, at least. Prison can be a shit-hole in which you hate every second and every person, but it can also be just another opportunity to educate and improve yourself, and to give yourself whatever tools you need to move on. I’m being released in less than 6 months, after 19 years, and looking back, that’s how I’ve viewed the majority of my time in here. And I feel like I’ve added amazing amounts of control to my life (and pride and self-esteem as well), even while behind bars. I can’t wait to see how much that grows starting in October.

Dan Turner
DOC# 767569

HATE IN PRISON

How do you deal with it? Although if someone asks my opinion about it, I tell them, usually I just keep my mouth shut. The reason may be chicken-shit, I don’t know: arguing could lead to a confrontation, possibly a physical one. I’m not willing to risk what I have for that. Nor do I feel obligated to risk trouble over every loud-mouthed jerk in prison (there are a lot of them). But sometimes I feel like keeping quiet is almost the same as giving assent to the person spewing the hate. They always want listeners, after all. I never laugh at their “jokes” or even give a polite smile, because I don’t want to convey ANY impression that it is acceptable. And sometimes, even a guy with terrible, hateful beliefs is willing to at least listen to a dissenting view, which I will give them if I can. It’s rare, but it does happen.

Dan Turner
DOC# 767569

ATHEISM IN PRISON

One thing I’ve noticed with Christians in prison. Not all of them, but I would say probably the majority. They use it as a device to make themselves feel better about what they’ve done in their lives. Instant “forgiveness” by just reciting some magic words and reading a book. I don’t know if it’s right to want to escape your guilt. I don’t want to escape mine for what I did. I’m not even sure I deserve the type of automatic forgiveness that Christians are always talking about. And what about people, the majority of them in prison, who accept this forgiveness and then don’t change? They go on to commit the same crimes again, hurt people again. I think we all need to look more deeply about what forgiveness means and how it affects prisoners. Forgiving oneself seems very very easy to me. It’s much harder to truly accept responsibility and change. That should be the focus.

Dan Turner
DOC# 767569

ATHEISM IN PRISON

One thing I’ve always found about people who are on the fence, and come over to atheism, is that they didn’t understand much about the positions of it. They maybe had this vague opinion that atheists were childish people, rebelling against authority. But when they start learning, they realize that it has a long, interesting story, that it’s absolutely an intellectual position, and that it is, in a word, serious.

Dan Turner
DOC# 767569