Thomas, 40

Meet Thomas…

I am coming up on 16 years of incarceration. I do not know if any of my family is alive or not. I have not seen or talked to them. I don’t even know where they are living now.

Incarcerated: 18 years
Housed: North Central Unit; Calico Rock, Arkansas

My story starts in March of 2006. I am 24 years old and I am staying with my sister and brother-in-law in Fayetteville, AR. I am working with my brother-in-law doing electrical work for a small company in Fayetteville.

I come home from work for lunch, to find 12 Fayetteville police officers at the house waiting for me. As they arrested me they told me I was being detained for possession of, viewing or distributing material of sexually explicit nature of children (child porn). I had rented five computers and was paying for the internet at the house. The internet company informed the police that someone at our address had downloaded the material. While being interviewed I told them that it was not me, it couldn’t be. They said the computers and internet is in your name, it’s your charge. While I was in court my brother-in-law’s daughters stood up in court and said “Be a man and own up to what you did, Dad!” The judge asked me “Do you know what they are talking about?” They are saying the charges I’m facing should be his. The judge asked them “Is that correct, can you prove it was your dad?” they said no. The judge then said, the charges will remain against you. At 24, I was sentenced to 30 years with 12 years suspended imposition of sentence. After I was sentenced my brother-in-law’s daughters stood up again in court and told him “Stay away from us as we fear for our safety. We are going to live with our brother.” After being sentenced I saw my sisters and mother, once in county jail. I am coming up on 16 years of incarceration. I do not know if any of my family is alive or not. I have not seen or talked to them. I don’t even know where they are living now. As for friends, no I have not heard from any of them since I was charged as a “Child sex offender.” I’m going to ask the same question that one of my friends asked my mother. “Who wants to be friends with a known child sex offender?” Everyone looks down on a sex offender and even more so when it involves a child. Do I blame them? Not at all. Even though I carry the title, I am not a person who has or ever would do that. In fact, up until recently I really wanted to get out and kill my brother-in-law; but my higher power has started to show me a better way in life. Through education and religion, I have learned to work my very hardest and forgive people of their past wrongs and forget. Through a great university such as Ashland University out of Ohio. I was given a second chance to receive a college education. I have received my associate of arts in business administration and I am working on an associates of arts in sociology and my bachelor’s of arts in applied communication. With these degrees, I will be able to start my life over when I get out of prison. The sad part is I made parole in October 2014 and have been stuck in prison as I have nowhere to parole out to. I am stuck in prison until February 2024 my discharge date. The state of Arkansas does not have halfway houses that will take people in my position. The prison system in Arkansas requires its inmates to work but does not pay them “Slavery.” If they did I would have been able to rent a place to parole out to. Bot having any family or friends, I am worried about getting out and what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle making new friends. I am currently in a program called Principle Application of Life Skills. I have also done a re-entry program called Think Legacy. I’m working to be ready to be released, yet I am still worried because making new friends has never been easy for me.

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