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Rap Sheet To Cred Sheet

Re-entering Society With Confidence


A rap sheet represents who a person was. The Cred Sheet documents who a person is


A Cred Sheet includes demonstrated skills, accomplishments, and personal characteristics. 



All prisoners enter lockup with a Rap Sheet – a record of criminal history. The Rap Sheet documents the worst actions, days, or years of a person’s life. Usually, it is not pretty. Typically, it severely limits the successful return to society. 


The following comment came from a prisoner I got to know well. It was written a few months after his release from prison:

 “Upon return, the confusion is equivalent to stepping out of a time machine into a foreign civilization: feeling like an outcast, feeling like I don’t fit in, feeling like I can’t measure up. My therapist told me I have the same PTSD symptoms as a veteran returning from active battle. I must reinvent my life which has stood still for 18 years while the world sped ahead. Employers do background checks and won’t call back. I tried to lease a home and was denied. An R.V. is where I am staying. Prison didn’t do anything to prepare me for employment. It’s hard not to go back to addiction to relieve the stress.”


Of course, I have received reports of more successful societal returns. However, the above is not unusual as the rap sheet and “felon” label dominate.


It is unrealistic for a prisoner or former prisoner to say, “Don’t pay attention to my rap sheet; that’s in the past.”


That’s not convincing. But what if prisoners and former prisoners have a replacement for the rap sheet that is so compelling it eclipses the rap sheet? 


In sports, I think of a runner’s track record. It is usually accurate that past performance is the best predictor of the future – but not the obsolete past. In predicting future performance, we refer to a runner’s track record.


The best way to predict performance in an upcoming 800-meter race is to know the previous performance running the 800-meter. But to predict a runner’s time, we don’t rely on how fast they ran the course in junior high school.


Knowing how fast they ran their last race is unquestionably more relevant. 


 There is one relevant question for society to ask of a returning prisoner: “What did you accomplish in prison?”


There is one relevant response for a former prisoner to give: “Let me show, or tell, you about my Cred Sheet.” 






A rap sheet represents who a person was. The Cred Sheet documents who a person is.


A Cred Sheet includes demonstrated skills, accomplishments, and personal characteristics. The Cred Sheet documents the competence, credibility, and track record achieved in prison.


It is a response to the challenging questions: What did you accomplish in prison; why should I believe you; why should I trust you?


The Cred Sheet is documentation that can overshadow the past, highlight the present, and provide a window of expectation for the future. The Cred Sheet is a resume for today. 


 What should the Cred Sheet contain? There is no cookie-cutter answer, but again, Society’s Standards of Excellence are a place to begin.


It makes all the difference to reenter society with confidence and evidence of possessing the achievements below.


Character. Possess integrity, reliability, honesty, and the absence of addiction.

Teamwork. A positive attitude and works respectfully and productively in teams. 

Self-Directed. Takes personal initiative, has a self-directed work ethic.

Literacy. Skilled in basic academic subjects; has a learning mindset.

A Specific Occupational Skill. Competence in a needed occupational area.


No matter where you have been, make it your prison objective to acquire the Standards of Excellence.

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