This Thanksgiving has been one like I can never before remember. After a wait of four months and five days, I got a Kansas appeals court ruling in my case, on Thanksgiving eve of all days!!! The ruling upheld a lower district court ruling to have the state offer a plea for 13.5 years on my original 30 year sentence I am imprisoned on. The court legal procedings could go many ways from here, but this was a big hurdle to overcome in getting my sentence reduction.
Thanksgiving is a time to look at all the good and to be thankful for that good in your life. Obiviously, a chance to have a substantial reduction in my prison sentence is something I am so greatful for. My parents have been here for me every step of the way. I’ve been incouraged in numerous ways by positive influences as well.
When I first hit El Dorado prison general population yard, I had no idea of how I was going to do my time. I remember it like it was yesterday, walking onto a packed yard. There were drag queens whistling at me, there were gangsters shooting glares my way wondering what a clean cut looking guy like me could be imprissoned for. There were old school prison veterans wondering what I was about. The first man to approach me was an older male, slick talking. He told me he has a TV in his cell, a radio, and would feed me lots of food if I were to move in with him. It sounded like a great deal. I told him sure, what do I need to do?
A few minutes later, another older guy came to me and told me, “I see you were talking to… was he trying to get you to move in with him?” This older man explained to me that the guy who was trying to get me to move in with him was a “prison booty bandit” meaning he was looking to take advantage of a younger inmate coming into the system in a sexual manor.
He almost had me convinced to move in before this other guy got me up to par on this type of prison game. The man who informed me of the bad situation I was about to get myself into was a man that had done most of his life in prison, he was in his late 60’s at that time. He had actually been on death row in San Quenton, CA, had his death sentence overturned, and knows about every prison game or con that could be run on a man. His name was Willie. He ended up being my cellie for the first two years I was down. Willie told me the best way to do my time was to get an education. He told me if he could do it all again, this is the path he would have taken.
I had a pretty good education at that point, so I went to apply to the GED center to be a tutor. I got the job. This Thanksgiving, I am EXTREAMLY greatful for Mrs. Boyer, a catholic GED teacher at the prison who was extreamly dedicated to helping us inmates. She was my boss. She incouraged me to take college classes and showed me how I could take them from inside prison. This is something I still do today. I worked with Mrs. Boyer as her aid for almost two years. She is someone I accredit for much of my success and getting started on the right path.
I remember my first few days in prison. Gangs attempted to recruite me. Negativity was prevalent in every direction I turned. It was an older lifer inmate named Willie that I am Thankful for teaching me a little about “how” to do my prison time and keep myself safe in a very dangerous situations.
In closing, I am thankful for so much this year. It is really looking like I may have a change at freedom much sooner than expected. Things are good… I credit my outlook, my thankful attitude, and my hopefuly spirit for so much of the positivity I feel this year.
Blessing in abundance to you!!!!!
Categories: holidays, Paul Stotts
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