“The arc of the Universe is long, but it tends towards Justice.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
A man is dead. My sons are criminals and I barely know my daughter. My life so far has been wasted through drug use, crime, and prison time. Hello, my name is Rick. I’m a career criminal.
Mom kicked me out when I was 13. Dad was a couple years gone, and she was trying to stay sober. A teenager who wasn’t going to school wasn’t something she couldn’t deal with. I feel like I was a good kid, I just didn’t have any guidance, no supervision, and school was hard for me.
I lived on the streets of Everett for a couple years with prostitutes and drug dealers, bouncing from hotels to flop houses, surviving on fast food. I drank and smoked weed daily, and was a meth addict by the time I was 15. I usually kept a full-time job to pay my bills, but I supported my habits by robbing, stealing and selling drugs.
By the age of 30 I had 38 Gross- and Misdemeanor convictions, 17 Felonies, 100 arrests, and had served more than 10 years behind bars. I had 3 kids who needed me, but never really got me.
At 41, half of my life has now been wasted behind bars. The Jails and Prisons that I lived in let me do my time as I chose: smoking, hustling pills, gambling, playing handball, fighting, working out…it was a pointless existence that only made me a worse person and a better criminal.
I get that it was my responsibility to take my change and growth into my own hands. But I was still a kid mentally. Drugs and alcohol kept my brain from developing properly, kept me from maturing. My normal was partying, sleeping around, runnin’ and gunnin’ all night, and going to work high or hung over. If I had a problem, I avoided it or solved it with my fists. I didn’t know real responsibility and I was never shown a different way. I sure didn’t know to look for one.
“The sad truth about the matter is that most evil is done by people who have never made up their minds to be or do either evil or good.” -Hannah Arendt
So I wasted my time locked up, and went back to what I knew. I stole cars, robbed houses, ran from police and fought them when they caught me. I sold a little dope, and fenced stolen property. I knew that I needed to change, but I couldn’t picture a life different than the one I had always known. I made some efforts to clean up my act, but there was no real change in my thinking and character.
That lack of true change was clear on the night I took a ride with the wrong guys, and a man lost his life. Both of them (one of them my best friend, the slimy coward Andrew St. Nicholas Brooks) pointed the finger at me to try and save their own skin. On July 1st, 2011, I was pulled over on my way to work by the Skagit County Sheriff’s Department and arrested for Murder.
After sitting in county for 3 years I went to trial on Felony Murder 1 and hung the jury, 6/6. I took a deal for Manslaughter 2 and Robbery 2, for a total of 15 years. Regardless of my level of involvement, I still had 2 cowards trying to hang me to save themselves, and I refused to speak to detectives. I had to take a deal. I was facing life in prison. With every new trial the State’s case always gets better, because they get to talk to the jury and find out what they did and didn’t believe. Then they just adjust their presentation accordingly. I couldn’t take that chance.
While I sat in jail awaiting trial, tragedy. I was being transferred, and as I made my way through court holding, a shout: “DAD!” I turned to see my oldest son, cuffed and shackled in an oversized orange jumpsuit, locked in a small holding cell. He was 17 at the time, arrested for Robbery, being tried as an adult. He looked so small, and he started crying. I begged the officers to open the door so I could hug my sobbing child, but they refused. I cried with him, pressed my hand to the glass and told him I loved him over and over again, that it would be okay…but we both knew it wouldn’t. Not for a long time.
“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” -Sir Josiah Stamp
That was the moment. Decades of crime and drug use and selfish living all flashed before my eyes, and the result was standing before me my scared, broken son. I had wasted my own life and destroyed the life of my child. I didn’t know what it meant to be a man, not really, but I knew that I had to become one.
“The past has no power to stop you from being present now.” -Eckhart Tolle
I’ve been locked up going on 8 years now, and I’ve really turned it around. I volunteer to teach other prisoners through the Redemption Project (sounds religious but its not), help out at family events in the visit room, donate artwork to auction off to raise money for good causes, take every self-help and educational class available to me, and much more. I wrote a book Spending Time: A Prisoner’s Guide For Making The Most Of Their Time, that we are in the process of self-publishing so we can donate it to Jails, Prisons and Prisoners throughout the country (my wonderful wife Rose and my good friend Sam are supporting this effort from the outside). I have become a leader and a mentor, and I can’t wait to get out and be a leader and a mentor for my children and community.
“We cannot start over, but we can begin now, and make a new ending” -Zig Ziglar
I have so much more to say, but this is an introduction. I look forward to sharing my journey with you and growing together. Comment or contact me, and we can talk about making a difference.
Richard Kirkham #756060
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen WA 98520
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