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Instilling Change: Jay Steinle

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Jay Steinle grew up in a two-parent household with two much younger siblings. He never felt a real connection with his parents due to a stressful home life. Despite pressures at home, he graduated from high school and managed to attain a good job. He soon married and had a daughter. Jay then got hired at TWA. He and his family moved to Kansas City where he fathered another child.

For most of his life, Jay experienced deep feelings of depression and anger. He hated his life. With these emotions haunting him every day, Jay fell into self-sabotage. Life soon went downhill, and in 1990, Jay was incarcerated.

Unfortunately, Jay had bouts of depression throughout his time in prison. Because of his depression, coupled with resentment towards his father, Jay felt like he needed to make a change. While imprisoned in Moberly Correctional Center, Jay helped form a unique therapeutic community, where he and other inmates established their own code of conduct and mission statement. At this time, he was coping much better with his mental health. Because of this, Jay was also a charter member of the first Pay it Forward program in the DOC (Department of Corrections).

Upon his release in 2020, Jay homeplanned to St. Louis with plans to start fresh after more than 29 years in prison. However, Jay was navigating his newly found freedom without much positive support in the community. Like so many in Missouri and nationally, Jay found himself in violation status and returned to prison.

In the Fall of 2022, Jay was eligible for release. He decided to try Kansas City again. Jay learned about the Second Chance Program through the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change and decided to enroll in the program. Jay stated that the Second Chance Program, with the encouragement of his Resource Specialist, showed him many beneficial skills, including: how to properly budget and build credit, how to retain employment, and how to process difficult emotions. His Resource Specialist educated him in how to manage bills, as well as financial management. This had been one of Jay’s biggest issues when attempting to navigate a new life in the community and to move forward post-release. Since engaging in positive supports and continued therapy this time around, Jay has stayed on a straight path to stability. Although loneliness has been one of his biggest barriers, Jay knows he must allow that feeling to pass. To help with this, Jay has taken a real interest in exercising and working out to live a healthy lifestyle.

Jay is most proud of his understanding of the deeply rooted causes of his self-sabotaging ways. He recognizes that failing doesn’t mean he is a failure. He knows he has the capability to bounce back and put the broken pieces back together. The Second Chance Program and the Lord have been his support system. He has been able to responsibly budget and because of this skill, is preparing to purchase a new vehicle in the next few months.

When asked if he could go back and give his younger self advice, Jay stated he would encourage himself to never allow anyone to tell him who he is and would also reiterate the importance of believing in himself: “Never surrender. You do not need the approval from others.” A couple of Jay’s favorite inspirational songs are “Thief” by Third Day and “Flawless” by MercyMe.

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