No Matter How Bad It All Is—You Can Be Somebody


I’ve had the good fortune to have been around many people who have been in jail. Yes, you read correctly, I didn’t say misfortune, I said good fortune! You might think that it would be bad to know lots of folks who walked the halls of jail or prison but I say its good fortune because I’ve seen the real reasons many people ended up in jail. Also, I feel I have a good handle on what keeps many behind bars and what keeps many high risk people, out of the hoosegow as well. Thus, yeah, good fortune.

It’s not so much that I was a cop for most of my adult life that I know these things. No, being a cop helped me to understand one part of the puzzle but so many cops just scoop em up and lock em and go to the next call. Few have time to reflect about deep reasons because they’re too busy surviving and keeping one step above the bad guys to make sure they stay healthy and uninjured.

I started seeing different dynamics when I started teaching in college. I had heart to heart talks with many students who came from bad neighborhoods where murder was commonplace, general crime even more commonplace, where hope was just about dead, and addiction was rampant. What was telling to me was that some of these students were ones who committed crimes and were involved in drugs and addictions. And now, they were trying to better themselves. Many were a rare breed in the sense that they did not want to be a victim of life any longer, they did not want to be a loser anymore, they did not want to go to jail anymore; they wanted to be SOMEBODY.


In today’s day of political correctness, some may ask what does SOMEBODY really mean. Like, isn’t everyone a somebody? The kind of people I’m talking about have been on the tough end of life and certainly the wrong side of the tracks throughout most of their lives. They’ve felt the lack of dignity of being herded like cattle in jail. They’ve felt the pain of constantly having no money. They’ve felt the void of having no one to mimic other than criminals, cons and liars. The darkness of having no hope and the very real fact of having a poor future. They’ve seen so many people succumb to generations of nothingness that they felt like they were nothing much more than flesh with needs. And here is why everyone should be concerned about this topic; many of these people will kill someone in a heartbeat because they feel like nothing inside other than a piece of flesh that needs to fill immediate gratifications.

Some of these people who felt like nothing but a pound of flesh have been fortunate to have been given a spark from someone that showed them that there was something different out in life and something possibly different for them. Some were shown that they could be somebody, somebody good, somebody with dignity, not just somebody siting in a hopeless jail cell or a dingy porch with no hope all day long. One of these men told me that when he was in a large jail facility awaiting trial, a morning-shift jailer would put a motivational quote on a whiteboard every morning that basically said; every day was a new day and they could start making their lives completely different from where it was at now. Other quotes explained that it was up to them to change to be something different and good; that morning.

That lowly jailer changed that man’s life. Those morning quotes sparked a flame of hope and a basic direction to follow. That inmate built on that basic direction and learned more ways in which he could be different; all from a spark from one individual! He went on to go to college and to be a great student and also a great person. He feels like someone now. He feels like he has hope and that he can do positive things in life.

I’ve talked to many people like the man I describe. Many have been given a spark of hope by someone. Sadly, some fail to be somebody. They try, but the wrong kind of peer pressure, which is a strong downfall for many, or the pain of getting up early in the morning, day in and day out, or the very real issue of having no lasting encouragement in their lives steers them into traps. Traps like sitting by the TV all day, perhaps downing a bottle of cheap booze or worse, heroin, crack-cocaine or the cool drug of the day. Some fall victim to the over dependence on public assistance where the ease of just surviving is an easy option. I had a student ready to graduate tell me, “Mr. Kovacs, my mother was on welfare, I was on welfare and now my kids are getting to the age of being on welfare. I’m getting off now and I’m going to use my degree and what I learned to have my dignity. And I want my kids to be somebody too.”

I have been so impressed with so many of these people who have overcome or are in the process of overcoming that I feel it a privilege to be in their company. What I have seen is that crime, hopelessness and being lost in life is not a color or a nationality “thing”. It is a human “thing” and for those who have never been given the tools to know their true value, their true potential and how to proceed in a productive way, it is an almost insurmountable condition in life.

But I have seen time and time again that with mentorship from a leader, teacher, cop, jailer, reverend, mom or dad that anyone can be somebody no matter where they’re at in their life. No one can do it for them, but many can light the very real and very powerful spark in them . . . to be somebody.

Steve Kovacs
Follow Steve

Steve Kovacs

Steve is a bestselling author with his latest book being, 'Protect Your Kids! The Simple Keys to Children's Safety and Survival'. Steve has also written hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics.

Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.

For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.

Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
Steve Kovacs
Follow Steve
Steve Kovacs

About Steve Kovacs

Steve is a bestselling author with his latest book being, 'Protect Your Kids! The Simple Keys to Children's Safety and Survival'. Steve has also written hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics. Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer. For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show. Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to No Matter How Bad It All Is—You Can Be Somebody

  1. There are so few people in this country that comprehend why good people end up behind bars and it’s simple really. In order to survive in life you need certain things and if you don’t have those things nine times out of ten you are going to try to get them anyway humanely possible. Years ago we met a man, a Veteran, who was down on his luck. He came from a very wealthy family, but was an alcoholic (due to war related issues) and was basically estranged from his mother who was his only living relative.

    Apparently what happened this one day was he had no food in the house (may have been for several days) so he went over to the local grocery and stole a bunch of stuff (in several trips). But, he felt SO guilty about his actions that he came over and asked if he could borrow the money so he could repay the store. He seldom if ever asked for anything because that wasn’t his style.

    At the time we weren’t rolling in money, but could see how very distressed he was so loaned him the money (which he repaid at a later date), but the point is, when you’re hungry and have no way of eating you find a way – no matter how you were brought up. And that is probably what has happened to so many of the so-called-criminals that are behind bars in our prison. It is a sin that Americans still go hungry, when there is so much waste in this country.

    Our entire criminal justice system is a disgrace to me. I had two doggies, one passed in 2009 and one passed in 2013, both were over 14 years old, and we had both since they were puppies. If they went out of the yard I would give them a time out of so many minutes and put them in a dog pen that we had set up to keep strays that ran about until the authorities could pick them up, but for the most part our doggies were allowed to roam about the yard at their will. If I told them to go to the pen because they had misbehaved they would start howling and not stop till they got out again because they didn’t like being penned up, so what does a person feel like? I, for one, can not imagine what it would be like to be locked in a cell, yet we don’t even think twice about putting people behind bars for days, weeks, months or in many instances more years than you can count.

    What would happen if we spent that same amount of money on them at the onset? What would happen if these people, the majority of them brought up very poor, were given a safe roof over their heads, food in their stomachs on a daily basis, had their health needs taken care of, and were able to go to school without worrying about being bumped off by a gang member? These people would probably all be successful, TAX PAYING, consumers.

    Some day we’ll figure it out and I hope it’s in my lifetime!

    Have a good day Steve,


    • Steve KovacsSteve Kovacs says:

      Thanks for commenting Pat. The fact is that there are some good people in jail or prison who who simply did things to survive or to fill basic human needs. But to think that the majority of people in jail or prison is because of that is incorrect. Also, saying that no matter how someone is brought up they’ll still break the law to survive, well, of course that is correct and most people (including judges) would have sympathy for those who break laws to fulfill basic needs. However, the fact is that how people are raised or not raised is the major issue in America and the major issue with crime. Also, throwing money at the problems has been done for generations and it does not work. Leaders who see the pain and ugly of troubled urban areas know this to be true and finally, in the last few years, are scrambling for ways to make changes that work.

      In Chicago, one weekend last month, 85 shootings occurred. Much more than the war zone of Afghanistan. About two weeks ago, one weekend, 25 shootings occurred in Chicago. In Cleveland, shootings occur every day, murders every week. It has nothing to do with basic needs other than needs that have become unholy because they have been left to believe in nothing other than immediate gratification and other unhealthy basics. Many see nothing but what a spoiled rotten child sees. A twisted world that does not make sense in reality to them because they have never been shown what works in a human being’s life. You can give every one of those shooters I mentioned in Chicago $100,000 cash and it would do nothing. They’d be back in the crime path in a few months.The problem starts with parents. Respecting themselves, and helping their children to believe in themselves and teaching them the tools to survive and thrive.

      In 2014, most people who work in these troubled high crime areas know that it all starts in and with the family. Kids not having direction, work ethic, belief in self etc. Kids grow up without any direction or wrong direction. No healthy mentoring and no tools to not be dead-heads. They go to school not wanting to be there and not wanting to learn. Great teachers make some differences and some students learn to soar high in the clouds and some come back to their communities to start mentoring and helping those who need to be shown how to grow tall, straight and whole. Any child who is not shown boundaries, is given everything without knowing that you must learn and work for things gets spoiled or better put, goes on the wrong path. And this path quite often is the crime path; criminals.

      Locking up anything including dogs, sucks. But come walk the halls of a jail with me. Or a prison. You’d walk away with me saying, thank God they’re locked up. Of course, not everyone who is locked up should be there and many drug cases/situations/laws should be revamped. But in about the time it took you to read my response to you here, a woman was raped–about every six-minutes in America. Punched, kicked, bitten; raped! Every 30 minutes or so someone is murdered. These are not committed because of basic needs not being met or lack of healthcare needs but because they grew up perverted and I don’t only mean in a sexual way. They grew up without love, direction etc. It is pretty much a burned in stone fact that psychopaths are so because of two reasons. Genetic predisposition and environment. With a good family environment, the predisposition will not come to fruition. Same with criminals. The ones who commit crime to fulfill basic needs are not a big worry in society in America. The ones who are twisted are a huge worry. And there’s no way to stop that without getting people, families on the right train, early….the train that helps people become whole.

      I think young leaders are sprouting up and making changes. It’s a long and tall mountain to climb and probably a few generations before we’ll see fruit.

      Thanks Pat……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Recent Articles Posted

    • Black Lives Really Mattering and My Friend the Boxer
      I taught college Criminal Justice, on a part-time basis for about a decade. Out of about 6 of those years, I taught in downtown Cleveland in an area where especially at night, wasn’t very safe. During that time, I became friends with a parking lot attendant and former professional boxer, ...
    • Meaning—Makes the Man and Woman–Makes the Difference
      When I was a police supervisor in my 40’s, a young patrol officer who also happened to be my friend asked me what I thought about growing up in the 70’s. Jeff, had heard there was a lot of non-committal free love going on back in the day and also ...
    • Bars, Demonstrations, and Getting Thumped…
      Many people believe that they’ll be safe going to bars into the wee hours of the morning. I'm having fun! After all, they’re not looking for trouble and things should be fine. Moreover, some people feel that they can go to demonstrations no matter what it’s about or who the ...
    • White Privilege, the Latest Distraction
      I was watching a video clip on Facebook where an African American woman was talking about white privilege. She was brow beating a white, Jewish male trying to get him to agree with what has taken off as the new buzz word regarding African Americans in America—white-privilege. The male tried ...
    • Every Day A Child Cries and Sometimes Dies—It Can Stop
      Your son looks so innocent when he pets your dog and looks into its eyes. The innocence and love you see brings a tear to your eye.   And those special times that he comes up to you to share some new excitement in his life and you notice that ...
    • Who Do You Trust? Who Do You Respect? Politics, Media and You
      What active local or national politician do you respect and trust? That’s a question I often ask people when they start discussing the state of politics in the country. I don’t have a problem with anyone talking politics or even ranting about it as long as they don’t drift too ...
    • Sitting and Staring–The Andy Griffith Show-Mayberry 2017 and What Really Matters
      I was having a snack and watching TV when my 10 year old niece walked into the room and blurted out, “Wow! You ARE old. You’re watching black and white TV!” I glanced up at her and then back to the TV and exclaimed, “You’ve never watched Andy of Mayberry! ...
    • How to Have Great Talks and Presentations
      What makes for a good communicator, teacher or speech maker? While talking, personally, I’m never at a loss for words. I know some people who know me are probably shaking their heads a bit, saying, “You certainly can say that again Steve, because you certainly do talk a lot! I ...
    • The Hypocrisy in My Fellow Lefties Needs to Stop
      I suppose many would say I'm not a true-blue leftist, and they would be pun intended. I have many views that are very liberal, and yet I maintain that we desperately need to stop being dependent on government for everything. In many ways I'm what was originally meant by ...
    • Homicide and Help in America
      In the last year or so I’ve listened to governmental officials including President Obama and some criminologists saying that violent crime is substantially down in America and those Americans who think we are less safe than we were a decade or so ago are dimwits, uninformed or have been bamboozled ...