Punishment was completely abandoned and their strategy had become one of trying to reason with and guide me away from wrong choices. But, since they loved me so and could not see their adopted son suffer, they actually hid me from authorities and attempted to cover my wrongdoings when I was adamant about being the Antichrist. Imagine being a God-fearing redneck, born in Tennessee during the depression and raised in Kentucky, with a third-grade education because you have worked your whole life for an honest dollar, living in a Denver trailer court, raising a little heathen like me. I put this man through hell. Stealing from him and mom. The smell of pot coming from my room. Sometimes twenty to thirty of us would be in my room having a keg-party. Many others would often stop by outside my window. I would disappear for weeks on end before returning home. I had dropped out of school by the eighth grade because I had warrants for my arrest. Mom and dad helped me avoid being picked up by the police by sending away for the proper papers to change my identity to my given name at birth.
By the time I was sixteen, I exchanged gunfire with a Denver Police Officer. Since the cop entered through a window, it never became much of anything, but on the heels of this incident, my old identity and probation record caught up with me. I returned to probation, but with my age being what it was, I actually beat them out of a year’s time because I would only have to serve until I was eighteen. It was the 80s, what can I say? As a condition of returning to probation, I did have to serve ten days in Adams County Detention Center. Other than fourteen days in Gilliam’s Hall (thirteen spent in medical because of the beating I received from a bunch of gangbangers who knew each other and did not know me), this time in ACDC was all the juvenile time I ever did.
At eighteen, I ended up in Jefferson County Jail, facing aggravated robbery from a convenience store stickup when I was seventeen. Dad came to see me once during the six months. He sat there and cried during that visit. This was the second time I had ever seen tears come from those eyes. When I was nine years old, my uncle’s eldest son was shot and killed at the age of twenty-five. Basically, seeing me in jail was just as heartbreaking for him as the premature death of his son; that’s why he simply couldn’t handle a second visit. Again, I got probation but this time it was an eight-year suspended sentence courtesy of the Department of Corrections. I violated that probation about a year later while being caught outside after the curfew set by my PO, and for being in possession of a .357 revolver.
Young, first time in prison, 165 pounds, 6’1”. Yeah, I was intimidating. I was sent to ‘Gladiator School’ where I ended up gangbanging with the best of them. Insecure and scared, I spent most of my time proving myself by working out and fighting. The other whiteboys liked that about me, and even though they thought my straight edger, no drug policy was a little odd, the majority of them partook in the drug culture that I had abandoned years before, the fighting made me an acceptable individual within their structure.
Since 1989 I have been in and out of prison on numerous occasions. Each incident stemming from a robbery, even though I was not charged with robbery every time. Possession of a fully automatic machine-gun, attempted murder in the first degree (dropped to first degree assault), and aggravated robbery. The last two run-ins ended in shoot-outs with the police, with the first incident leading to my being shot four times, while the second episode concluded when a K-9 police dog latched onto my biceps.
This time back in custody, I have done the longest stretch yet. I’ve been locked up for about fourteen years on a thirty-two-year sentence. I had been in for about a year before a pretty violent assault landed me in administrative segregation. Most of you probably know this as “solitary confinement,” or, “The Hole.” During my four and a half years locked down, I did some serious soul-searching. There really isn’t much else to do being locked in a 6’ X 8’ X 14’ cell twenty-three hours a day, with the remaining hour split between an exercise room the same size as this cell, small shower room and no outside time at all.
The thing is, they have got something for you when you act up—you cannot beat them this way. During a cell extraction (when the COs have to enter a cell by force to remove an inmate). I was bound so tightly with my arms behind my back that I couldn’t move them. This resulted in permanent shoulder damage because I was left in such restraint for fifteen hours straight. To this day the physical damage from that binding affects me worse than being shot four times and operated on. Yes, a person can become permanently hurt in these situations, and there doesn’t seem to be a damn thing we can do about it because there is a labyrinth of bureaucracy that protects all the extreme and unneeded measures taken. Sure, I could let it all turn me bitter and resentful, and, yes, I have been very angry at the Colorado Department of Corrections, CDOC, staff and administration, the world in general and myself. Mostly, though, I have found that I was angry at myself. CDOC had all the reasons they needed to respond to their necessary extremes based on the way I continued to act.