We are making available a number of brief statements written by individuals
serving Life Without Parole sentences in Massachusetts. Here's one story...
I have made mistakes that showed very poor judgement and no regard for the potential consequences of my actions. I was living a disruptive and dangerous lifestyle, one that was filled with selling drugs, committing violence, and at times I was the victim of violence. I was a very angry, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, gambling, and hanging around with negative people. I was a very misguided young man. I didn't take much time to reflect on my actions. I have been in prison for more than 26 years now.
From 1975 to 1979, through execution, starvation disease, family separation, and force labor, the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot systematically killed an estimated two million Cambodians, almost a fourth of the country’s population. This is a story of survival: my own and my family’s. Though these events constitute a mysterious experience, my story mirrors that of millions of Cambodians. If you had been living in Cambodia during this period my soul’s story would be your own.
I was born in Battambang, Cambodia on July 5th 1967. I have two children and they were born in the United States. My father’s name is Say Nom and mother is Tin Oum. Both of them passed away. I have three brothers and four sisters. Most are living in the United States except for one sister who lives in Cambodia and she never left. When I was on the street I was a machine operator and a tractor trailer driver. I got my high school diploma (GED). I'm practicing Buddhist. These are my family members, religious affiliation, marital status, children, careers and education.
I spent most of my childhood in Cambodia under the oppressive rule of the Khmer Rouge. When I was 8 years old. I witnessed the most horrible execution in my life. The Khmer Rouge executed my friend and others, due to stealing food and refusing to go to work, because they were so tired and no energy to do anything. The Khmer Rouge said “to keep them is no gain and to get rid of them is no loss”. I was also forced into a hard labor camp. I also saw other children being tortured and executed. These were the horrors I endured as a child. All I saw during that period was violence and so I adapted to that way of life. Thus I learned that I survived by hurting before I got hurt.
Alcohol and drugs triggered my anger and it had an effect on me in the crime and it played role in my bad decision making. I do not blame on alcohol and drugs for my action alone. I do take full responsibility for making poor choices. I know that my selfish actions resulted in the unspeakable loss of my wife and the mother of my kids.
I believe that I've learned a lot in prison. The programs and self-help have changed me a lot. It is never too late to change. Programs have helped me to develop positive goals. Programs such as: Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Alternative to Violence Program, Substance Abuse, Anger Management, Path of Freedom, Criminal Thinking, Alcoholic Anonymous/Narcotic Anonymous (AA/NA), Family Violence Conference. All of these programs I have participated within. And they all lead to end the violences. I am not the same person as 25 years ago. I had been practicing Buddhism from 1995 to this day. I will continue to do this practice because it keeps me on the positive path. I had PTSD because I lived in a horrible regime when I was a young boy. I need professional help to get me through this disorder when I get out of prison.
If I was to be released with appropriate conditions and community supervision, I will do my best to live and remain at liberty without violating the law, and that my release is not incompatible with the welfare of the society. I will continue practicing Buddhism when I get out of prison to keep me on the path of freedom. I have a lot of remorse for what I did to my victim and family. And I have deep regret, ruefulness and guilt toward them.