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Tips for Rehabilitation

One of the first steps in criminal rehabilitation is taking responsibility for one's actions. This means owning the wrongs committed against others. For clemency and board, this is a must!


Responsibility is defined as the quality or state of being responsible: as moral, legal, or mental accountability. The first step in taking responsibility is in accepting the fact that you were a flawed human being BEFORE the commitment offense occurred. You may need to take responsibility for not addressing your character defects before the life crime happened. It’s important to know and identify for which events/actions you need to take responsibility. It will be necessary to be specific about what aspects of the crime you admit to and take responsibility for. And most important is being brutally honest with yourself. Did you devise the crime plans? Did you intend to harm or kill the victim? What injuries did you inflict upon the victim versus those committed by a crime partner? These are just a few of the questions that commissioners will pose to you at a suitability hearing and/or Governor’s office staff will seek the answers to within your clemency application. Remember, it’s a terrible crime already—it can’t get any worse. Be honest! It’s good to have a firm timeline in your mind--and perhaps in writing—as to what you accept responsibility for, including what you did after the crime to cover it up, and how any previous denials of guilt that you now discount may have added insult to injury to the victim(s).

In this exercise make a list of events/actions which you assign to yourself and take responsibility for: “I am responsible for _____________________.“ Examples: I am responsible for attacking Jimmy. I am responsible for the pain and suffering Jimmy felt before he died. I am responsible for the grief and anguish that I caused Jimmy’s family. Fill in the blank until you have identified at least ten items. The goal is to be as specific as possible.

--Excerpt from Insight Overview for the California Prisoner by Nick Woodall (available on the Shop tab)

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