Arkansans Organizing 4 Justice

Though 24 years have passed, I still remember the look of hurt and disappointment on my Mom's face every time I got into trouble, but with love and concern she would say, “Son, please slow down before you get into something Momma can’t get you out of.”

I continued down the wrong path and turned all of my anger, disappointments and failures toward my mother and stepfather which manifested itself in total disrespect and rebellion.  I soon found out exactly what she was talking about.  I became involved in a murder scheme without a clue how I got there or how to get out.

I was arrested at 17 and entered a plea agreement at the advice of counsel to first degree murder and life imprisonment.  In October of 1988, I entered the Tucker Unit – “Gladiator School”.  I soon discovered that I was in a world like nothing I had ever imagined.  The front of the barracks consisted of iron bars from the floor to the ceiling with a large iron gate that sounded like a dreary dungeon each time it would crash and lock.  The gates were opened by large skeleton keys.

After my first 2 years of incarceration with continued drug use and fighting, I stayed on the hoe squad and did time in solitary confinement – the “hole”.  I began to realize that I wasn’t getting better…I was getting worse.  This realization did not come about suddenly, but only after slowly understanding where I was and how I got there.  My family was very instrumental in the process.  They traveled from Ft. Worth, Texas to visit me every 2 weeks and I began to feel that they certainly deserved to see some real changes in me.  My drug use ceased and I began to search for positive ways to handle everyday problems.  This change was guided a great deal from within, when I finally, upon urging of my family, opened my mind and heart to God in July of 1990.  I needed hope, peace of mind, and a release of the anger I felt toward those who had gotten me into this mess in the first place.

My life and attitudes towards others and myself began to change.  I became active in church and any available programs like Inmate Council, Jaycees, etc.  I tried to concentrate only on positive things.  My alcohol and drug addiction was behind me and has not been a problem since.  I finally realized what destroyed my life…ME!

Because I was a 9th grade dropout, I attended school at the Tucker Unit and achieved my GED.  I have taken paralegal courses; I became a certified tutor for Hooked on Phonics; and, was finally allowed to attend vo-tech school in 2001 at Varner Unit where I successfully completed 1,440 hours in Computer Science Technology.  Throughout the past 24 yrs. in prison, I have developed into a responsible person.  While I’m not perfect, I am able to get along well with both staff and inmates.  I have developed good work ethics, I take pride in any job I’m assigned, and I strive to present a good appearance.

More importantly, I have learned how to respond to situations that confront me in a more mature and positive manner. I’ve learned that communication is the key to understanding between two people; a fact I wish every day I had known when my mother tried desperately to communicate with me all those years ago.

My realization, desire, and pursuit of change have been tempered by the feelings of deep sorrow and regret for my past actions.  I think of the victim, Mr. Floyd, and his family continuously, and I am forever mindful of them in prayer for peace and healing.  I wish every day that I could go back and undo what was done, but I can’t.  I could try to blame someone else for my actions or blame it solely on my drug addiction, but the truth is I’ve had to learn to accept responsibility for my actions.

I have now served almost a quarter century behind bars.  I am 41 yrs. old and can barely remember that angry teenager.  I have grown from an immature, drug-addicted kid into a mature, responsible adult.  Though I am a violent offender, my track record over the past 20 years demonstrates that I am not a violent person by nature.

I could safely be returned to society without threat and would work hard at being a productive member of my community.  Sadly, in Arkansas, “life” means life.

I can only hope and pray that the powers that be see their way in modifying parole statutes that govern life sentences in this state; that they realize that continued incarceration of an offender for 2, 3 and 4 decades only causes more harm and destroys more lives; and how many of us there are, who have worked diligently to atone for our sins in hope of being returned to our families who are victims in their own right – victims of circumstance.

My mother passed November 16, 2010 but I will always remember the love she had for me, how she believed in me, and how she never lost faith in my freedom.   My name is David Morgan, ADC #90819; I will remain hopeful and will strive to be a better person until change finally comes.