Today I received a letter from my primo Danny Boy, who is currently serving a 25 year to life sentence for bank robbery. Danny Boy is one of those hard dudes, always in the mix of trouble. Danny Boy and I had done time for bank robbery, when I came home I continued to live a little crazy but began to change. Danny Boy was paroled a few years after I came home and was out for three months and was arrested for bank robbery again. He has been moved four times in the last six years; mostly due to his violent behavior. He was what they call in prison a torpedo or the muscle.
Danny Boy was state-raised, so he had that state mentality. He was moved from California to Florida after stabbing two inmates and a guard. He was in Florida for about a year till he ended up stabbing another inmate and was moved to Indiana. After arriving in Indiana, he met a man by the name of Teco that was 69 years old and had been in prison since he was 21 years old. He is an old timer and likes things to be cool and slow; Danny Boy is like an 18 year old, active and full of hate even though he is 36 years old. I began to notice the change in Danny Boy’s letters. They went from one extreme to another, from talking about the new charges he has piled up from staff, to inmate assaults, to vile quotes. He said he realized that the life he has been living, was not really living. He was living for other people’s satisfaction and not his own. The people he was hurting never did anything to him, he was just following orders from the people who called the shots.
He found a away to live for himself, and he found that in the Lord. I would always joke around and tell people that I thought Jesus was in prison because everyone finds him there. When I was in prison I thought that they would use religion so they wouldn’t have to be part of the riff raff. After hearing Danny Boy tell me what he did, I realized that people do really genuinely become religious. I should never have doubted anyone’s religious ways as a copout for anything, especially in prison. People like, Danny Boy and me, hit a stage in our lives where we seek change. I found mine in writing and helping others and he found his in Jesus Christ. I wish that he would have met Teco 10 years earlier but you can’t change faith and it was faith that found him in Indiana.
A year after Danny Boy and Teco met, Teco passed away in his sleep. Danny Boy feels like Teco’s life was complete when he changed Danny Boy. Now Danny Boy works with the new inmates to try and help them change and he doesn’t try to turn them on to the Bible he just tries to make them change their ways. I look back to the things we did and the way we lived and I am grateful for what I have and I thank God for sparing my life.
by Rolando Ortiz