Arkansans Organizing 4 Justice

Hello, my name is Charles W. Locklear.  I have been incarcerated since Feb 29, 1976.  At the time of the commission of my crime I had just turned 22.  I in no way want to try to deny my culpability in my crime.  I accept full responsibility now that I have had years and years to reflect back on the taking of another’s life.  I am sure there are millions upon millions of people in America that have done things when they were adolescents or young adults, admittedly not capital felony murder like I did, that they wish they could undo or atone for.  Every day for the last 37 years, I have been atoning for that one act.  In Arkansas, even if I live to be one hundred, I will never atone or penitence be paid for my crime.  None of us that are my age (59) do the things we did when we were 20.  The lifestyle we lived at 20, 30, 40, or 50 evolved to make us totally different people as we’ve matured.

It took me several years in prison before I took a real look at my life, where it was going and what I wanted to be even in prison.  I quickly found out that there were few programs for people doing life or life without parole sponsored by the ADC.  I knew if I wanted to change I would have to struggle on my own.  One of the first things I did was to join the Jaycees even though I knew it was supposed to be a young man’s leadership training organization.  This turned out to the one of the very best decisions I’ve ever made as far as personal growth is concerned.  I started taking the classes they offered such as:  Personal Dynamics, Time Dynamics, Financial Planning, Stress Endurance, Chairman’s Planning Guide training, and I.O. College Seminars sponsored by the chapter.

Once I had taken an assortment of classes and courses, I ran for offices within the organization and won these elected positions:  President, Individual Develop-ment VP (3 terms), Management & Training VP (3 terms), Membership Develop-ment VP (2 terms), Parliamentarian (2 terms), and Executive Assistant to the President (4 terms).  During the course of holding these offices, I chaired 30-40 projects.  The Distinguished Service Awards (DSA) and the Christmas banquet were the largest where we had many free-world guests and the budget was $5,000.  I chaired these 4 or 5 times each.  We also sponsored projects within the prison that I chaired that over the years totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars.

I attended the ADC-sponsored eight week Anger Management program and the 90-day Substance Abuse Treatment Program (SATP).  I was an original member of the Making the Transition (MTT) inmate panel for over 20 years.  The original intent was to help new inmates prepare for prison life.  But it was eventually opened to high schools, colleges, churches and detention facilities to help at-risk youth avoid going to prison by discussing goal setting, prison life & behavior, and drug and alcohol abuse.  

I was the Sports Writer for the prison newspaper for 2 years and the Editor for the prison paper for 7 years.  I am now working on a degree from Shalom Bible College and Seminary.  At present, I have approximately 50 credits.  It is my intention to have a doctorate in Christian Education even though I am a Muslim.  I was the Iman (spiritual leader) for the Islamic community for 2 years.

I think I’ve bettered my life as much as I can considering my circumstances and present location.  I wish I could continue doing this in the free world because I believe I have a lot to offer society.  I came into prison a kid, and prison made me the man I am today.  I hope and pray with all my soul that one day I will have a freer existence than the one I have now.

Charles W. Locklear