I have been in prison for a long time, 26 years to be exact. Early on I was a troublemaker, as are most juveniles, oh I forgot to mention I was17 years old when I first got locked up. I guess you can say that I grew up in prison. The learning curves that I have faced in prison are not at all like those of a traditional upbringing or how a person should grow up. I had no other options, you know how the saying goes, you made your bed now lie in it. Even though studies have shown that the adolescent mind is marked by immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences. The Supreme Court has ruled that these findings be considered when dealing with juveniles, not to just lock them up and through away the key. There are a lot of states that recognize this and have amended their laws concerning juveniles serving life sentences. Virginia is not one of those states. I am by no means trying to justify my crimes, I took a life and that fact will haunt me for the rest of my life and I pray for the victims family and I am truly sorry. I am not looking for forgiveness from anyone. I don’t feel as though I should be forgiven for what I have done. All I can do is try to be a better person. I am no longer that 17 year old kid. I am a grown man. I no longer have the same flawed thought process that I had as a child. I have become a model inmate and I have exemplified a positive attitude through my ways and actions.
As a child my younger brother and I were kidnapped by my father and placed in a boys home in South Carolina. We were left there to fend for ourselves in an environment that was nothing short of Lord of the Flies, I feel it would be best to leave out the details. All this was done to punish my mother. I didn’t have what you would call a good childhood. I was loved by my mother, she sacrificed so much for me and my brothers. I don’t think I ever truly understood to what extent she went to provide for us. Growing up I always had a lot of harboured anger inside about everything. I was always getting into fights and running away. School wasn’t easy for me. I grew up speaking what you could call Spanglish, a broken English mixed with a lot of Spanish. That had a lot to do with the fact that I grew up in Puerto Rico speaking Spanish. And although most of my family speaks both Spanish and English, Spanish was always the more dominant language. When we moved to the states going to school was always a struggle. All throughout my childhood, going to school I was always in L.D. classes. I had bad comprehensive skills. Most of the time I wouldn’t even apply myself. I found that by the time I did finally grasp what was being taught everyone else had already moved on so I just kind of gave up. I turned my life over to the streets. School to me became a fashion show, that and a place to meet up and find out where the party was at. Now I have a passion for education. I really love to learn. I got my GED on the first try. I then in turn, went on to become a teacher’s aid for Spanish speaking inmates in a new program called Plaza. I am also a volunteer English Spanish translator for the administration including the medical personnel. I then enrolled in computer class. I was only expected to achieve a certificate in computer literacy. I went further and earned a certificate in Advanced Business Software Application. Now I am currently going to class to become a certified HVAC technician. I just completed a safety OSHA course as part of the training. I have completed all types of programs, N.A., Breaking Barriers, A.A., Anger Management, House of Healing, Thought Awareness Group and I’m sure there are more that I can’t remember. I am currently on the waiting list for 3 more programs. I have been housed in the honor building for about 6 years now I haven’t had any infractions or right ups in over 10 years. I’m not listing all this to boast or brag about all that I have done. I am now after getting turned down for parole again questioning myself. I am at a loss. I don’t know witch way to turn. I look at the growth and how far I have come and I get to thinking what if I am never afforded the opportunity to apply any of these skills on the outside, in the real world. Then what’s the point. I have spent 26 years in here and only 17 out there. I am desperate for a do over in life. I don’t want to be that person who hit his peak in prison and then that’s it. One of the things I have a great fear of is not being able to reach my full potential because, of where I am. I long to experience the simple things in life. I know it is too late for me to do a lot of things, like having kids or being able to take a vacation or travel abroad. I at some point know that I am going to have to make peace with the fact that I may never go home. This could very much so be all that I am destined to be. I am getting closer to being able to come to terms with how the rest of my life could very well play out. It is sad and it pains me to have to tell my family and loved ones that this may be the reality of the situation. That doesn’t mean that I am giving up or that I am going to stop being a positive person and stop helping others. It means at some point no matter how bad you want others to believe that you have changed, they can only see what you have done to get put in here and not what you are doing or have done to try an get out. Write my accomplishments in sand, and etch my failures in stone. Regardless of the outcome, I am happy with the person I am today. Took me awhile but, I’m here.
These are the things that I struggle with on a daily. I want what may be unattainable to me. At this point I feel like a jackass chasing a carrot. But unlike that jackass I realize that this may be a carrot I can’t have… so when do I stop chasing it?
That’s all I got for now, take care.
Dominic Jesus Hendrix