It was 2 years ago, when our magazine was barely new that we receive correspondence from a very peculiar old man (he will probably laugh of this lol) wrote us inspired by our magazine. As you may be aware, we donate a considerable amount of magazines every issue and he was one of the lucky ones that received the October 2019 issue (first year!).
This man serving 20 to life, 42 years in, was eager to learn more about us, our mission, and who was behind of our organization. He was intrigued by our cause and our approach to mass incarceration. We bring hope, and he liked that.
Fast Forward, a couple months in, he made a generous donation of paintings, this aligns with the mission and vision of his organization “Domino Deeds”. Designed Conviction is honored to be the designer of their website, and manager of his twitter account.
Today I would like to share one post of his blog titled: WHAT WOULD FREEDOM MEAN TO ME?
I was recently asked by a close friend, what would I be doing if I were free? It was a powerful question, one that cannot be glossed over with a typical reply. So I will attempt to lay out my response here.
After 42 very long years of captivity, being house in a cage and living a life of survival of the fittest, among many with street mentality where they were never taught civilized behavior, prison has been an eye opener.
Having been raised in a rural area, a strict upbringing which included saying please, thank you, yes sir, yes mam, no sir, no mam. Those qualities were alien to the prison environment.
Over those forty two years I have maintained my politeness while keeping a sternness at standby because in this environment you need to be able and willing to say NO and mean no. If you cannot or won’t back up your voice, then you are deemed weak.
Many of the tools I have learned while incarcerated are things I can utilize if ever returned to society. To survive this long and conduct myself as I have, for over four decades, is miraculous.
To walk out that door, a free man at 63, (if it were to happen today) would be monumental. I have learned so much about other people, other cultures, and above all, about myself.
I find that blaming others for me being in prison is not an honest view. I accept full responsibility for my actions and have analyzed just what led me to the choices I made that tuned so many parts of my life, as well as the lives of others, upside down.
While I am in far better shape physically and mentally than most others who have served similar time as myself, I am 63 and that is far different than 21, the age I was when I found myself behind bars.
It is very doubtful that I could return to pipeline work, my union dues have lapsed so I am no longer a union member. Physically I do not know that I could manage the grueling work required, not to mention visual issues I have developed with age.
I would hope that anyone and everyone in the community I was convicted from, would understand and accept the fact that I have zero interest in returning to that county.
My goal would be to parole OUT OF STATE, even if it required that I sign a consent agreement stating that I would never set foot in the county I was convicted in.
Being a hard worker, drug/alcohol free, I would be an excellent candidate for many kinds of employment. I do not seek a fancy home or other material things; I would be perfectly content with a travel trailer. They are fully furnished, self-contained, practical, dependable, portable which would enable me to follow my work, if necessary.
I do not have any desire for crowds, night life, gatherings. After years of crowds and being housed like cattle, enough is enough. I would be content flipping burgers, cleaning, managing, virtually practically any line of work.
I would additionally welcome side jobs of painting homes or power washing or other tasks as well as landscape painting of murals inside homes, business’, etc.
Paying monthly payments for travel trailer, vehicle to pull trailer, lot rent, utilities, insurance, food, those necessities should be covered in my daily job, other side jobs should help to pay for other needs. At some point I will need to pre-pay for my cremation, get those type of things in order so that I am not a burden on anyone.
I hope to explore grants to see if I can develop an avenue for Domino Deeds to acquire a specialized trailer where I can pull it to centers for the elderly to engage in art therapy sessions. In my experience of conducting such sessions with patients, I have seen firsthand just how beneficial those art sessions can be. To have a special trailer with a ramp where wheelchairs can enter, tables set up, a restroom available, cameras installed so each session is recorded from all angles to protect not only myself but the participants as well. Full transparency is vital. Providing this maybe one day a week for a couple of hours at each location, could really help the participants to mentally and physically get away from their normal daily prison that they themselves live in.
While Domino Deeds will always be a part of my life and will evolve into area’s even I do not know about yet, I will not be able to help others until I help myself to get on my feet.
The future is uncertain. I would really like to be a voice for those left behind. To actually speak of my experiences and explain just why the system, at least in Ohio, needs revamped by the legislators.
Ohio prison Director indicated she wanted to hire an ex con. I would jump at the chance to be a voice. Someone who knows many of those still behind bars and can paint an accurate picture of just what type of person they are. Seems like that could be useful in making decisions that involve potential release consideration.
Getting a release is similar to hitting a multimillion-dollar lottery. If I ever become so lucky, I know in my heart that I will be a success story and I will do only good things. I know I will never follow the path that led to prison, I know what my triggers are, I know what to avoid and fortunately I have zero desire to indulge in any form of behavior that mimics what I use to engage in.
I hope to be given my freedom. So much good can and will happen that benefits not only myself and others, but my freedom will impact so much more in a positive way.
I come in peace,
P.O. Box 57