Robert Rambo

Life Before Prison, by Robert Rambo

Often times, people get labeled by the worst thing they have ever done, so I decided to share a little about my life to show that I am more than just my crime.

I was born in Nebraska, but lived most of my life in Lynchburg, VA. When I was 5 yrs old I got mauled by my best friend’s dog. He ripped the top of my head open pretty bad. Of course my mom & dad were freaked out, but I don’t remember much about it other than all the blood. I ended up with about a hundred stitches, but the doctors put me back together again, and I still love dogs. Other than that I had a pretty normal middle class life.

As a teenager, I was a bit rebellious. My main interests were centered around cars and girls. I had a bit of a lead foot which resulted in a few speeding tickets along the way.

Then on March 24, 1990, at 20 years old, I meet my wife Melissa. At the time she was a 23 yr old single mom raising her 6 yr old son. We moved in together later that year. Over the next two years my oldest 2 kids were born and I settled down.. From 1990 to 2002, I owned & operated a small lawn care business. In 1994, my mom lost her 5 year battle with cancer. We were close, so it was very hard on me. Two years later, my grandmother passed away from cancer as well. In 1996, we bought our first house and my youngest son was born. Melissa was a great mom, a terrific wife, and my best friend. She was a stay at home mom, but was very active as a classroom mom for all our kids. During that time we often held family cookouts, went swimming and traveled to various car shows and amusement parks. .

In 2002, I sold the lawn care business and went to work selling cars for a local Chevy/Cadillac dealership. We bought our new home in Nov 2003. In 2004, I became the sales manager for the local Kawasaki/Yamaha dealership. At home, we played basketball together, had cookouts, and went riding ATVs. We liked to be outside doing stuff together. Life was going great!

Then on July 1-2, 2005 In a matter of hours life took a drastic turn for the worse.

Prison Life

Currently, I am at Nottoway Correctional Center, a level 3 medium security prison. I have been here for almost 5 years and have been in the honor pod for about 4 years. I’ve also been to Augusta, Green Rock, and Pocahontas State, all level 3s.

My first few years in prison were VERY difficult. Going to prison was an entirely new experience for me. I didn’t really know what to expect. When you see prisons on TV it looks like people are constantly fighting on a daily basis. That may happen at some higher levels, but that’s not typically the case in Virginia’s medium security facilities and I didn’t have any issues with others. My difficulties were more personal.

Less than one year after my trial, my wife Melissa was diagnosed with terminal stomach & intestinal cancer. On March 6, 2007, I was taken to see her for a death bed visit. We spent our last 2 hours together telling each other how much we loved each other, while I remain handcuffed & shackled. I wanted so badly just to take her place, so she could go on living. I promised her I would do everything I possibly could to come home to our kids. I’m still hoping to keep that promise. After she passed away, our kids lived with my dad & stepmom for a few months and then with my wife’s sister for the next 2+ years. When my son Jon was 18 he got full custody of his younger siblings and raised them for the next 5 years. I am extremely proud of him for that. Things weren’t easy for them, but they have overcome and have remained my biggest supporters.

Prison life has gotten better since then, but it’s still prison. My typical day starts at 5:30 am with someone yeIling Count Time, count time, lights on, stand for count. Then about 6, they start calling for chow. I try to go most days, because a lot of days breakfast is the only meal worth eating. After breakfast, I work on reading my Bible and doing some studies for about a hour or so. I work as an inmate advisor which basically is a lawyer for guys who get institutional charges in here, so most Monday thru Fridays we do hearings in the mornings from 9-11 am. I am also on call from 6am to midnight (7 days a week) for the sgts. to call when they serve a charge. My job is to explain to the inmate how to fill out the paperwork to fight the charge or advise him to take the penalty offer. At previous facilities, I worked as a GED tutor & I’m proud to say I’ve helped over 100 guys to earn their GEDs.

From 11 to noon is lockdown for count. Then lunch after that. In the afternoons I either go to the rec yard or programs, play pool in the pod, and go to the library once a week. Over the years, I have completed Anger Management, Thinking for A Change, Men’s Issues, Victim’s Impact, HVAC and Advanced HVAC as well as Business Economics/Personal Finance and several other programs, all in an effort to better myself as a person. Around 3:30 they start calling for dinner. Then from 5:30 to 6:30 pm is count time again. After count I take my shower and fix something to eat if dinner was bad..

In the evenings, I usually call my kids once during the week and then on the weekends. We have a very strong bond and they know they can always ask me for advice. On Thursday and Sunday evenings I go to church service from 6:30-8pm.
At 9 pm is count time again. Usually I don’t come back out after that. Busy watching TV. Go to sleep and repeat the next day. Now that they are young adults, my kids try to visit once every few months. They’re only about a hour away. So that’s a typical day in my life currently, but nothing is ever really consistent around here. Luckily, I have had a good cellie for the last two years, which makes things easier. Prison life is not as drama filled or exciting as TV makes it out to be. Really it’s rather boring most days..
Thanks for reading!

Robert Rambo
DOC #1188667

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