ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In 1987, at the age of 24, J. Barrett Hawkins was living the aspiring entrepreneur’s dream. After failing miserably with his first three business ventures, Hawkins finally found a niche. His chain of retail clothing stores, Just Sweats, had grown from one location to 22 with annual revenues of $10 million in just three years. With numerous franchise requests, the company was on the threshold of a national expansion.
Like many people who start their own business, Hawkins developed a profound emotional attachment to the company he’d built. In the process, he also acquired an untamable attraction to risk. This combination became toxic when Hawkins’ business partner proposed an insurance fraud that would enable Hawkins to reacquire his partner’s 45 percent ownership in Just Sweats. At that time, Hawkins viewed insurance companies as corrupt, soulless entities and faced no moral roadblocks when it came to fleecing them. But something went wrong — very wrong. In the process of facilitating the fraud, his partner and their physician accomplice killed a man and Hawkins was held accountable. Hawkins was tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
The insurance fraud was presented to Hawkins by his partner as a white-collar, victimless crime. In his lifetime Hawkins had never intentionally harmed another human being. He did not intend or suspect that his two accomplices would commit a murder; however, that did not, in any way, minimize his responsibility for the death of a man he did not even know. Hawkins’ ignorance of his partner’s heinous actions was deemed completely irrelevant by the law. He should have considered the possible sinister consequences of the scheme. In retrospect, he realized that his role in the fraud was pivotal — had he not been a willing participant, the murder would not have happened. Hawkins now faced the unfathomable truth that he was responsible for a homicide. He could not begin to imagine the horror that the victim experienced, or the agony that crushed his loved one’s hearts. He felt overwhelming shame and deep sorrow for the pain he had caused them, and for the embarrassment he had caused his own family. His inner turmoil led to chronic depression, nervous breakdowns, and a suicide attempt.
For many years Hawkins was lost in shame, guilt, and self-pity. The book Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl became a guide to transformation by encouraging Hawkins to consider the essential question: What is the purpose of my life? Frankl developed a new type of psychotherapy called "Logo (the Greek word for ‘meaning’) therapy." He wrote: "Logo therapy regards its assignment as that of assisting the patient to find meaning in life. It attempts to help the patient become aware of what he longs for in the depths of his heart."
What Hawkins longed for was redemption. He wanted to find some way to demonstrate that he was not the type of person who could knowingly be involved in the killing of another human being, and he sought to atone for his wrongful actions. Hawkins began to search for a way to be proactive in repaying his debt to society. In time, this became his mission in life.
Frankl suggested that one of the ways that people could discover meaning in life was by "deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better." Hawkins took this wisdom to heart. Guided by a sincere desire to overcome his character flaws and become a better person, Hawkins embarked on a decade-long study of personal development literature. His self-help journey began with a process of personal moral and spiritual development. He learned that humans possess universal instincts for virtues such as empathy, honesty, humility, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and ethical behavior. Hawkins created a daily practice designed to instill these values and make them a way of life. He also conducted an in-depth study of self-healing modalities, including mind-body medicine, holistic health care, and personal fitness training. Hawkins’ literary exploration then shifted to new frontiers in human potential, including intuition, heightened creativity, metaphysics, and the capacity for the transcendent states of consciousness. Along the way he took copious notes and compiled all of the most insightful information into a personal excellence program, which served as his new code of conduct.
The authors that Hawkins admires most (Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Larry Dossey, Dr. David R. Hawkins, Bill Phillips, Cheryl Richardson, Marianne Williamson, Stephen Covey, Belleruth Naparstek, Martha Beck, Mark Viktor Hansen, Jack Canfield, Og Mandino, Anthony Robbins, and Caroline Myss) share the common belief that noble intention is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Their common message is summarized as follows: Everyone is born with unique talents and passions, and when those innate gifts are used for the higher purpose of unity (i.e. to serve others), we tap into powerful attractor fields of consciousness that magnetically attract the people and circumstances required to fulfill our purpose in life.
Hawkins developed a passion for information concerning self-improvement and a desire to share the things he was learning with other people. He became a volunteer mentor in Amity, the prison drug rehab program, where he taught a weekly class concerning holistic health practices and human development. He also guided recovering addicts through his personal excellence program, which consisted of four elements: daily personal fitness training sessions, nutritional counseling, behavior modification, and meaning therapy. He was able to help several men overcome their drug addiction and/or problems with obesity. In the process, he made a significant discovery: depression, illegal drugs (coke, meth, and heroine) and processed junk foods all cause imbalances in three key brain neurotransmitters—dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine; and balance can be restored naturally through high-intensity exercise. Moreover, Hawkins found that in food and drug addition, the neurotransmitter imbalances caused uncontrollable cravings, which could be markedly reduced by eliciting the "runner’s high" on a daily basis.
These insights inspired Hawkins to do something that he never imagined he would be able to do: write a book. He felt as though he had learned some things about overcoming depression, drug addiction, and obesity. He hoped that his story of transformation and the stories of the men he had helped might provide a source of inspiration for people who wanted to make similar changes in their own lives. He realized that writing a self-improvement book would provide a platform from which he could help a significant number of people. Hawkins’ quest for redemption crystallized as he dedicated the next eight years to writing his first book, titled Penitentiary Fitness: The Amazing Weight Loss Formula.
Hawkins also became involved in a delinquency prevention/intervention program called CROP (Convicts Reaching Out to People). The program is facilitated by inmates who deliver personal testimonies and specific talks to troubled youths and their parents. In CROP, Hawkins discovered a true sense of purpose: He felt obligated to use his story as a warning beacon for kids who are steering toward the rocky shores of criminality. Hawkins developed a future vision of a crime prevention lecture he planned to give at high schools across the country following his release from prison.
The author is currently eligible for parole, but has not been released from prison because California’s parole system has been corrupted by decades of "tough on crime" politics. Recently, three federal judges ordered California to release 40,000 inmates over the nest two years because prison overcrowding has led to unconstitutional, deplorable medical conditions. As a result of this court order, Hawkins is hopeful that he will be released at his next parole eligibility hearing, which will be held during the first quarter of 2011. He plans to live in San Diego, where he will promote his books and work as a public speaker, marketing/self publishing consultant and weight loss transformation elicitor. »» click here to contact the author »»
Hawkins has two additional books. The first, titled Principles of Grace is a parable that revolves around a teenage girl named Grace who is drugged and "gang-banged" by a dozen boys. The sadistic gang initiation destroys her sense of self-worth. Grace’s teacher, Daniel, draws upon an ethereal wisdom known as the Principles of Grace to help Grace develop self-esteem and ultimately discover purpose in life.
The second book, The Dirty Nasty Truth is based on the CROP program. It is a crime prevention/juvenile delinquency measure wherein a dozen felons, including Hawkins, describe the crimes they committed and the lessons learned.