By ICAN handler, Jason Martin, Pendleton Correctional Facility/Indiana Reformatory
My name is Jason Martin A.K.A. “Duck”, and I am an inmate at Pendleton Correctional Facility. I was requested to write a short essay about Layla, the pup I helped train and how she has impacted my life. The last two years in the ICAN program has been quite the experience. I found out it was much deeper than training.
ICAN helped me “man up.” What I thought a man was, was a twisted and tainted view from years of criminal mind set and alcohol and drug addiction which in turn fueled my in and out of lock up lifestyle since a youth. Being physically, emotionally, and mentally abused as a youngster confused me and distorted my ability to love and be loved correctly. In the process I lacked in the area of communication and expression to others and myself. These behaviors went from the home to the streets. Thus began years of pain and disregard for many people including myself.
This program has helped me see a few major issues, “out of many” in my life that needed work. To mention a few: 1. Whenever I fell short, I had to dust my butt off and press on. 2. Learning how to communicate with the other ICAN team and myself, “which is huge considering that behind this prison wall is fueled with pride, unforgiveness, negative attitudes mixed with false “manhood”. Working with the pups and the other ICAN members here has also kept me honest, not just to others but myself included. Most importantly, ICAN has opened my eyes to the fact that “love” is not just a word, but an “action” that has to be shown. It is an action that is so deep, that through patience, open-mindedness, willingness, and kindness situations can be worked on and most of the time solved.
I would like to thank ICAN for the opportunity to be a part of changing someone else’s life through training Layla and helping train other pups. The training has helped me in everyday situations. The trust and confidence that ICAN showed towards me from the start, humbled me and let me know that I had lacked “trust and confidence” in my own life prior to that point. I can’t even find the words to express how I feel about that. Thank you. ICAN gave me the opportunity to take my past negative experiences and mistakes and use them as tools to help myself and others.
In conclusion, I have been sober off all substances for 2 years which has helped regain trust back from most. Through hard work, much pain and many tears, I have been able to battle with emotional issues and scars that I have suppressed for many years. Difficult yes, but man has it been rewarding and worthwhile. I was 40 years old when I started this program and didn’t know how to act, but the desire to be better and help others is the key. ICAN helped move these desires into motion through the pups and the training. Yes, I had a small part in these radical changes, but my true strength and inspiration comes from Jesus and the hard-working people that make ICAN what it is. I want to thank Sally, Sean, Becky, AJ, the furloughers and all the men in the program here at Pendleton. I would like to respectfully say this also, “Even if we didn’t get along well or see eye to eye on stuff, it was the whole experience that helped my personal growth.” Even though I know I am far from perfect, I do feel complete.
P.S. Thanks for making me a sissy!