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Richards Life 32 Years Behind Bars…

My name is Richard Corey Fox. I was arrested on January 26th 1990, five month after my 20th birthday, for Capital Murder.

You’re probably thinking; what could this middle aged convicted murderer have to say that could possible help me? And that would be a reasonable question. But instead of looking at me as boarding on old age, a murderer, or someone who’s done more time in than out, look at me as a man with a story and take a few minutes to hear me out. Because this is not about who we are, what color we are, how old we are, or what kind of neighborhood or background we came from. It’s about where we are now, what we’re going through right now, what we went through to get here and where it is that we want to go, who we want to be.

I’ve been locked up now for 33 years as of the first month of this year, 2023, much longer than I was ever in the streets. It’s gotten to the point that it’s been so long that I almost don’t remember a time before doing time and that is a helpless, hopeless feeling.

I do know that I was born in Brighton, Alabama on August 23rd, 1969. My parents, sister, and I moved around quite a bit when I was young. I can remember some good times during those years, normal family stuff like you see on TV. But around 1978 all the normal family stuff came crashing down when my parents decided to get divorced. There were things that I didn’t see, things I couldn’t understand. All I knew was that dad was gone and no matter how hard I tried, he didn’t want me with him, even though I idolized him. I know that eventually my mom found someone else, someone to replace my dad with. That made them someone to distrust. Then before long we moved away from everything I knew and to a place that I found very lonely even with all the people around.

We moved to the city of Tarrant in 1980 when I was 11 years old. In my attempt to replace the family I had lost, I got in with older kids just wanting to be accepted. At 11, I was smoking cigarettes, working at a Circle K convenient store, stocking shelves for a pack of Marlboro’s and a Mountain Dew. By the age of 12, on a rare visit with my dad, I get introduced to marijuana by my step-mom and that visit opened a door of escape that would become a huge part of my young life because drugs allowed me the luxury of being accepted even in my loneliness, it masked the pain, the sadness, and disappointment from a life I had no clue how to navigate. It gave me the outlet to do the one thing I knew how to do, and that was to run. I was a runner, not athletically; But I tried to run away from everything I hated about my life. I tried to outrun who I thought I was, who I thought everyone said I was, without ever trying to see who I could actually be. And I ran straight into the worst version of myself.

There is a teacher, Pastor Hart Ramsey, who said in a class I took, “Boys run away because no one taught them how to stay.” See, I was always told what a sorry person my dad was, “he’s a liar, a con man, a manipulator, and an abuser.” Yet at the same time, people

were always comparing me to him. “You look just like your father; You sound just like your father.” Now I’m sure they didn’t mean it in that way. They weren’t saying I was the liar, con man, or manipulator that he was, but to my young mind, it was just like they were saying those things about me, and I accepted them.

My step-father on the other hand was the opposite. He was a disciplinarian, wanted things done right and in order. If they weren’t done right then there were consequences and those were harsh. I personally didn’t think he knew how to deal with kids, and maybe he didn’t, but It wasn’t like I was giving him a chance. I bucked against him harder than an unbroken pack mule.

I wanted to blame them for my life, I didn’t want to be like either of them and I honestly thought that I could do it on my own. Being the runner that I was, I ran away from home at 15 for the first time. Then a couple more times after that. At 17, I even tried running away to the army, even made it through basic training, AIT, and the first year of service before being generally discharged because a drugs. And they actually wanted me back if I could complete 6 months of drug treatment! But I was clueless and directionless. You know that old saying, “No matter where you go, there you are.”

So here I am.

When I was first arrested, I felt like it was just another part of my screwed up life. My circumstances put me here. Not me. “If it wasn’t for.........” you can just add any excuse. Then I wouldn’t be here.

Then I had to face one of the hardest things I’d ever gone through, my trial. My family had to sit and listen to a list of horrible things that people had to say about me. Not about my dad, not about my step-dad, but about me. These were mine and mine alone. Those people who loved me, now had to sit there and hear others talk about what a sorry piece of crap I was. I had added to the list of what my dad was, and when it was over, they got up to take the stand themselves to beg total strangers to spare my life, because its like they say, moms, grandma’s, brothers, and sisters don’t see us as others do. They see the little babies on the day they were born, the kids they grew up with, learned how to ride bikes with.

I know that I wanted to die, right then. But I didn’t, I had to own it. But I couldn’t, not yet. So I spent my first few years in prison still running, doing drugs and acting a fool. No longer running from my life though, I was running from my guilt and shame, misery and the disappointment in myself. My inability to look my family in the eye.

Eventually, because of my drug use and foolishness, I was transferred from St. Clair Correctional Facility, which at the time was a good facility, to Donaldson, which is where

the screw ups were sent and was considered the worst prison in the state. It wasn’t long before I was segregation bound. Now, one thing about segregation, there is nowhere to run, especially if you’re going to be there a while. All you have is your thoughts and feelings and no way to medicate them, at least not when I was there. Eventually, I just wanted to end it all and let God figure it out, but God decided He wasn’t done with me yet and that whatever “figuring” that needed to be done, I’d be a part of it. So I gave my life to Christ. 2Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

I went to segregation in July 1996 and got out in December of 1998. It was around April of 1999 that I made my way to the Faith Character Based Program dorm. In this dorm I’ve made connections with people, inmates and free world alike, that I never thought I would have a connection with. They have taught me how to be a better son, brother, friend, and citizen. I now have a wonderful and fulfilling relationship with my mother and stepfather, with my sister and her son. I have continued to learn and grow every day.

As I said from the start, I was 20 years old when I was arrested. Today I’m 53, soon to be 54 and I’m still incarcerated. I now spend my time taking classes to continue to grow, but I also teach classes because I believe that’s what God has called me to do. I’m still running, but no longer away from life, I’m running headlong into it. Doing everything I can to become the man I was meant to be and to help others see the potential in who they are also.

I feel that there is a need for people who have been through hardships to help guide those that are just starting to go through it. Sometimes us old timers forget what it was like to come to prison for the first time but we need to be there for the new guys coming in.

I put my faith in Jesus because I believe that true freedom and peace is based on a strong spiritual connection to God through Christ, guided by spiritual principles that puts each of us in a position to set, reach and achieve the life God intended for us and the perseverance and endurance we need to drive on when we face obstacles that try to hinder us from reaching our purpose. I’m freer now than I have been since I was a child, but I had to learn what freedom was, and it’s not a destination.

Until I was able to give up who I wasn’t, God could not give me the freedom to become who He created me to be. So if you want true freedom and real peace, choose Christ. John 8:36 says “Who the son sets free is free indeed.”

There is a song they sing at Church of the Highlands with lyrics that say “There’s a calm that covers me as I kneel down at your feet, it’s a place where I find freedom.”

Are we the people God intends for us to be or are we the people the world says we are. 1John 4:4 says “For you dear children are of God, and have overcome them, for He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.”

It’s important for us to know that if we have accepted Christ, want to accept Christ, or don’t know, but are looking for something, anything to give you that peace you’re looking for. That Christ, in you, can and will overcome all things. No matter what the world says, no matter what the DOC says, or the judges, or DA’s or the guys back in the dorm. God says different. We can overcome anything through Him. Even when things seem hard to accept or deal with, remember we can overcome anything through him.

We are redeemable. We just have to want to be redeemed.

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