Conviction with Shane Flemens
Shane Flemens turned a mistake into his biggest life lesson. He used his experiences to help others, bring awareness to the flaws in the prison system, and communicate that failure isn’t the end of the road. We talked about his time during incarceration and how he came to write his book Conviction. Tell me about your background and where you grew up. I grew up on a farm in Wenatchee, Washington. It’s actually the apple capital of the world. This whole journey to where I am now started because I used to go fishing a ton. Back in 2008, I got in trouble fishing in Alaska. While I was in jail I studied and had the desire to help others become better people. Tell me about your book, Conviction? I didn’t know how to write a book, but I knew how to use Microsoft Word. I just started writing my daily life and handed it to one of my inmates. It was about him and he passed it around. Then all the inmates started telling me about their lives.
What types of things were you writing about at first? I was really detailing my entire experience. What happened when I would get transferred, when I met certain people, how I grew and evolved as a person. I was shocked to find out that the system was broken and in many ways wasn’t helping these people. I started asking questions and pushing paper. I was getting controversial answers and eventually, I got all the way to the courts. I was helping people get their GEDs, I was organizing groups to help these people’s families who were hurt by their inmates, and I helped people forgive themselves. Do you think starting the book in prison helped you get through your time being incarcerated? At first, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I knew people would think my prison experience was interesting. I was then really intrigued by everyone else’s stories and felt like the public could learn something from each person’s story. What’s one of the biggest flaws you see in the system that you hope to see a change in going forward? You have to start from the top. For example, if there’s an officer or sergeant bringing drugs in, which there was if that’s not corrected and change of staff doesn’t happen, that’s the mistake right there. You can’t have somebody in charge that has lied and manipulated everyone and think things will change just because they say they will. New people should be brought in to fix things. Alaska is ranked number one or two for recidivism in the nation. The sad part is they’re also ranked number one or two for getting the most money too. So, what it’s really about is the state is getting all this money, but no change is happening.
Do you think it’s about bringing awareness to the general public? Yes, I do. It’s not all corrupt though. I had a correctional officer say, “If you fail, I fail.” What’s one thing you would change about your experience? I missed my kid. I missed all their elementary and high school years. I wouldn’t change my being in prison because I learned a lot as a person. I would’ve liked to communicate with my kids more so that they truly understood that I was working hard, going to school and church, and trying to become a better person. Their communication system could be better, in my experience. If you’re not local, it’s a flawed system. What’s the biggest takeaway you want to leave others with? It is only when you realize that life is taking you nowhere that it begins to have meaning. What else are you working on? My first two books did really well. The first book made Amazon top one hundred and top thirty-two with my second book. My book became part of a book club and over a million people had subscribed. I’m starting to work on a third book which I’m excited about! You can read more about Shane and order his book by visiting his website: http://shaneflemens.com/