Richard, 66

Meet Richard…

Then, I saw how badly the military messed me over, they ripped me off with a general discharge instead of a medical one.  This way, I couldn’t receive follow-up care in the veterans hospital. Instead they sent me home a lost and broken soul.

Incarcerated: 16 yrs 

I tried to commit suicide by injecting all the thorazine tablets they sent me home with. All it did was make me deathly ill. I began to self-medicate on grass and heroin, my two favorite things in the whole world. Especially heroin, its warm fuzziness wraps around you like a warm blanket and keeps all the bad memories, worries and fears out. I would drift on heroin’s cloud and luxuriate in the false sense of well being. Withdrawals are another story though and to avoid those I needed a ready supply of the $25 balloons – I begged, stole and borrowed. This inevitably led to one incarceration after another, starting in ‘76 as a civil addict commited to the California Rehabilitation Center at Norco. To my surprise, there were more balloons there than on the street! Today at San Quentin, I’m on my second life sentence for a nickel dime robbery in Corona. I began my roller coaster ride in 1968, three years after my Pa died.  At 12, my Ma had me incarcerated as a hopeless incorrigible, but really she was just mad because I wrecked her car joy-riding. I didn’t even know how to spell incorrigible, much less tell you what it meant. Juvie was rough back then. Boys as old as 20 were locked up with children my age. We went to school for half the day and the other half was recreation, cutting up and stealing the counselor’s smokes. Ma came to see me, but not much. When I came home she constantly threatened to send me back, so I ran away. At 18, I was placed in the psychiatric ward for a nervous breakdown. I flipped out. I was on 2800 mgs a day of Thorazine! One of the navy orderlies raped me in the showers. I never told or talked about it until I received my military service records. Then, I saw how badly the military messed me over, they ripped me off with a general discharge instead of a medical one.  This way, I couldn’t receive follow-up care in the veterans hospital. Instead they sent me home a lost and broken soul.

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