On, June 29, 2010 I attended the New York Department of Correction's first Reentry Symposium and Coxsackie Correctional Facility and wrote about it on my July 1st blog post. During the sessions, I had the opportunity to engage in a longer discussion with a few men, some who have life sesentences, but hope to be granted parole at their upcoming board hearings. A few weeks later,I received a few letters from the men, with their thoughts on a possible return home and their hopes for the future. I was moved by the insight some of these men had on the crimes they had committed, their recognition of the pain they had caused, and their thoughtfulness regarding their life circumstances that contributed to their behavior. I was also touched by their resolve to change their lives and makes amends with the community, if ever given the opportunity. I wrote back to the men asking for permission to post their letters. As of today, two have them have replied with a enthusiastic "yes", wanting their stories to be shared. Today I will post the first.
Dear Ms. Boar,
I spoke with you during the morning hours while you were Coxsackie. You might not remember me because you spoke with alot of people. I was the guy who was speaking to you about my next parole boarding hearing date coming up this August.
I had a lengthy conversation with you at the very end of the morning session. I was explaining to you how I been incarcerated for 31 years straight. How I want to come home and become an advocate, speaking to the youths about my unfortunate journey in life.
Hopefully, I can deter them from traveling down the same road I travel down. I want this to be my life time passion traveling anywhere I am invited to speak to the youth. I am not looking for any monetary gains for speaking, I just want to give back to the community that I took from.
I took an innocent man's life through a senseless robbery when I was 21 years old along with other robberies. In prison I got into a lot of trouble fighting and smoking marijuana.
It took me alot of decades to say enough is enough. Sometimes, Ms. Boar, it takes certain people longer to get their lives together. I am finished smoking pot. I have a good family. They are still in my corner. My grown daughters and grandchildren, my mother, my ex-wife and my other baby mother.
I would like to stay in touch while I am still in prison and eventually gain my freedom. I want you to help me find places where I can speak to people so I can tell them my story. I have a serious story to tell. I also have two brothers in prison . They be down for almost 24 years. And God willing, I pray that my story can deter those individuals who are living a similar lifestyle that I once lived to stop before its too late.
I will tell them the horrors of prison life, how your family and friends slowly start to abandon you--I can go on and on but I will save that for my future audience.
I will now bring this letter to a close. Take care. I want you to know that I do appreciate all of you who came to Coxsackie for the reentry session. Have a nice day and enjoy the 4th of July holiday!