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  • tlglawson70

Death or Life- I received Life

Tupac Shakur has a lyric in his song "Dear Mamma" that says, "Who'd think in elementary... I'd see the penitentiary - one day". Well for me, that went well into graduating from highschool. I was a man child growing up. I was always the president of church organizations for children or young adults; Jr. Ushers, Jr.

Deacons, Jr. Choir (president, director, and organist at different times). My grandmother and mother required church until I got a job where I had to work on Sunday. I got my first job at 16, and I had to work on Sunday.

I enlisted in the Navy at age 17 as a Special Weapons Systems Electrician.

This entailed the operation, troubleshooting, and maintenance of the Poseidon and Trident (nuclear) missile svstems. Toward the end of boot camp. I found out I could not obtain the level of security clearance for this M.O.S., because I talked in my sleep. However, the path to prison didn't start til I saw the movie Scarface, in the spring of1984, 1 believe. Looking back, I don't understand how I only absorbed the glamour of the character Tony Montana, and not how his lifestyle caused his mother to hate him, his wife to leave him, him killing his best friend, and being the cause of the death of his sister, and himself.

eventually tried cocaine, and a love affair began that sealed, not only my fate, but the fate of my victim and his family, as well as my family. I left a trail of destruction that can never be repaired. A mother and father lost their son, and a sister lost her brother, forever. My wife lost her husband, my children lost their father, my mother lost her son, and my siblings lost their little brother to prison. I vehemently apologize to everyone I hurt. I apology to the first responders who had to tend to the victim of my crime. I apologize to the jurors, stenographer, judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, paralegals, and all who had to see and hear something they should of never had to see and hear. My change started as soon as I was arrested. I had too many people who had invested their time, attention, resources, love, patience, and knowledge for me to have lived a life that dead ended in prison. I not only knew better, but I was better than that. So I got busy becoming the man that I really was, and destroying the man I had became. I worked past all the sub-personalities I had acquired, and rediscovered my core self.

Since my incarceration, I taught myself computer skills. I've worked as a library aide (for three years), a teaching assistant (for twelve years) in both academic and vocational education. I've created curriculum several times;

Custodial Maintenance & Sanitation at Nottoway Corr. Cntr. for Mr.R. Exxum, and at River North Corr. Cntr. for Mr. Hodge and Mr. J. Jones. I'm presently a Peer Mentor, or what is called a Peer Recovery Specialist in society, in the S.A.M. pod at my current facility. S.A.M. stands for Shared Allied Management. It is where security, mental health, medical, and mentors work together to provide a therapeutic community, that is a safe place for the healing of trauma. S.A.M. pods are a place for people with mental and medical health issues, and people who are classified as vulnerable, such as the elderly, timid, trans, or Igbt. As a Peer Mentor, my job is to facilitate group programs, manage a case load, aide, assist, and ally.

I created a group program called The M.A.N. Initiative. It looks at manhood from the perspective of different cultures, civilizations, religions, and time periods with the purpose of answering the question What is a Man? The research leads to a common thread, responsibility; for self, family, and community. I also facilitate a cognitive group program called the Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjin.

I was a mentor before I became a Peer Mentor. The victim of my crime was a youth, so lowed a debt to the youth. I've done all I could to make sure the youth, who would listen to me, do not make the same mistakes I've made. I do all I can to make sure they do not come back to prison, upon their release. I do not want any of them to wake up every day knowing they will never see home again, like I have to. I do not want them to know what it's like to live with no hope, like l've had to. I do not want them to know what it's like to grieve the loss of their mother, or son, alone and not be able to attend the funeral, like I've had to. There is another lyric from Tupac Shakur that I intimately relate to. It said, "Imagine life as a convict that's getting old". Prison is the last place to experience aging, and the chronic conditions and decline that come not only with aging, but decades of living on less than nutritious food, and substandard medical care. I'm 57 at the time of this writing.

I'm guilty of taking a young man's life, but not what I was convicted of; capital murder and robbery. I tricked the victim of my crime out of cocaine. When the jig was up, he threatened me and my family.

His death is the result of me defending myself, and my family, in my home. I'm guilty of voluntary manslaughter, or second degree murder at the most, and a degree of larceny. Capital murder carries only two possible sentences; death or life.

I received life.

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