We are making available a number of brief statements written by individuals
serving Life Without Parole sentences in Massachusetts. Here's one story...
In the winter of 1993, I and several kids from the neighborhood went to a house party. Later that evening, two well-dressed individuals came through also looking to have a good evening. I made the comment that one of the individuals had on a nice chain. Next thing you know, others are making the same comment. As night turned to day, and the party was letting out, I was approached with the statement, "Was I ready to rob these two individuals?" And, in that moment, I was faced with the decision as to whether or not to participate in something that was going to affect me for the rest of my life. I chose not to participate. But my friends went forward, and in that course, two men lost their lives.
I was arrested and charged for two accounts of murder in the first, two accounts of armed robbery, and one account of possession of a firearm. At that time, I was lost and confused as to what had transpired. When the judge found me guilty of the murders and the robbery, but not of the gun, I didn't know what to think. I was sentence to life without parole. I was only four months past my eighteenth birthday.
I used to feel angry about how life seemed to be against me. I used that anger to build a wall around me. Then, through the loss of others close to me, that wall of anger was chipped away. And through the cracks, fragments of light began to warm me to a better understanding of what it means to empathize for others, as well as to live for myself. I began to understand and accept that my actions caused a hurt and pain that no one should have to go through.
My selfish ways of thinking no longer hold me to believe that my life is the only important thing in existence. We are all part of a whole and should be treated as such. It humbles me when I see myself not above others, but view myself as being equal to others, for it allows me to be me, and allows others to see things I'm willing to share. I would have never been able to come to this conclusion in my youth due to my lack of impatience. However, through many years of growth and development, I've learned that if patient, things will come into place through proper guidance. For example, there was a time when being judgmental of others was all that I did. I did not realize at the time that judgment was the very thing that had caused me to build the wall I once maintained because I felt that people were always judging me. So, I no longer allow my opinions about others to fill my thoughts.
One of the greatest gifts the universe has blessed me with is the family that I have. They have been there for me at my lowest of lows and highest of highs. So my focus has been on building myself up to be what is greatest for my family. And it is through this gift that I will also e able to have an effect on the community, if given the opportunity. The lack of positive influences I once had will o longer control my decision making. In the meantime, I use the influence I have around this prison to assist men and help them to involve themselves in the proper programs that will help them to better understand the reasons why their actions were not just of their own accord, but also the learned conditional behaviors around them. Some of the men who I work with were juveniles when they were sentenced to life in prison. These men never thought they would have a chance to go home. I remind them of the opportunity they have been given. I remind them that if I had gone to that house party 120 days earlier that I would have a chance to go home, but those four months are the difference between life without parole and life with hope. I tell these men that the line between success and failure, between life and death is just as thin when they get out.
If I could make society better by helping somebody to better understand their situation, then, I would be one step closer to making my community whole and would, therefore, leave something greater for the next generation to look forward to.