Robert, 66

Meet Robert…

My dad, uncles and aunts were alcoholic, so I followed suit. My mother never drank but had mental issues.

Robert, 66
Incarcerated: 19 years
Housed: Graceville Correctional Facility, Florida

There were eleven of us, poor, living in the country. We raised our own food: chickens, pigs, cows, horses, we had gardens, we canned, we grew walnuts and picked berries for pies. I was moved to a small town at 15. I got with a bunch of boys who were buck wild. I quit school and got into drinking a lot. Then I got into trouble with the justice system. I was sent to a reform school until I was 18. That didn’t do much, and I kept drinking heavily and started smoking pot. The heavier drugs followed later in life. I ended up in trouble with the law again, but not before I got my girlfriend pregnant. I got sentenced to prison until I was 21. While in prison I got married because she was pregnant, for all the wrong reasons. I got a GED certificate and a few vocational trades while in prison. Then I got out and went right back to drinking and weed. This was in the late 70s. My dad, uncles and aunts were alcoholic, so I followed suit. My mother never drank but had mental issues. Dad and mom would fight all the time and it was bad. They finally divorced after years of fighting. I got out of prison, and after a few years we divorced. I couldn’t hold jobs down.

Drinking and drugs became my wife. Working only for my habits. Went to a lot of AAs, NAs, and rehabs, but nothing worked. I would smoke, snort, drink, anything. Hash, pot, windowpane (acid), then on to ice and crack. I got married two more times and had four more kids. And divorced. All over my addictions. I’m 65 now and doing 50 years for something my DNA says is 100% not me. I have no one now. I’ve burned all my bridges. I don’t want alcohol or drugs, after it’s too late. I honestly regret hurting and using all those people. Some things in life you can’t take back, and it will haunt you the rest of your life. All I can do is ask God for forgiveness. But my regrets still eat me up. The drugs and alcohol only lead to three places: death, prison, or mental health institutions. I’ve been to two of them quite often, that leaves only one. This prison is the worst. It’s a private prison with a lot of stabbings over drugs and gang violence. I guess I do deserve a lot of it. I figure it’s got a lot to do with karma from all the wrong I’ve done. In some small way I try to give back to the world that I’ve taken and abused. I tell the inmates to stop before it’s too late, to look at me, this could be you someday. A life sentence with no one. You can sadly see in them that they’ll be back. When released, they’ll go back to what they were doing. I see a lot of myself in them. Well, it’s not an uplifting story, but there were some good things. I’ve got five kids somewhere. I hope my three girls and two boys make someone’s life happy and they are happy, too. I surely miss them.

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