Arkansans Organizing 4 Justice

Hi, my name is Richard.  I am 50 years old.  I’ve done 24 years in prison for something I can never pay for.  I was young and caught up in the worldly ways of drugs and fast living.  I have never thought of myself as a violent person, and I did not intend to cause the violent crime that I did.  I have had the chance to grow to an adult in prison who has a decent record while here.  I have had a few problems, most of them when I first got here in 1988.  My prison record has no violence in it.

I have had trustee status while in prison, even as far as a trustee can go, “I-A”. When I think about what happened in 1988, I honestly say that I should be here.  When I think about the man I am today, I feel I would be a law-abiding citizen in the free world.  I have many friends who are doing life in prison who I am sure, given the chance, would do right on the outside of the prison walls. 

During my time in prison, I have found ways to reach out into the free world spreading the good news that is revealed to me in the Bible.  When I first came here, I had a high school diploma but had never read a book from cover to cover.  I was, needless to say, very depressed when I came here.  I opened the Bible and the Words of Truth seemed to jump out of the pages at me.  I found peace beyond understanding that I never had in the free world.  I wanted to share that peace with people, and one of the ways to reach out was by painting Jesus rocks, called the Rock of My Salvation.  I painted 25,000 rocks in the 8 years that I was permitted to paint them.  I gave these rocks away for free in hopes of spreading the Word of Salvation to the lost ones in the world.

I received letters from many people in many different places, even some from other countries.  I returned a personal letter to each one of them and sent them each more rocks to give away.  I had the chance to minister to children and when I did, I did not tell them about prison.  I avoided the subject with them, instead encouraging them to pay attention in school, listen to their parents and to pay close attention to their Sunday school teachers.  My ministry was meant for adults, but when I received letters from the children I had to tone it down to a proper children’s level.  After I was no longer allowed to paint the Jesus rocks, I started a track ministry called “Reaching Out from the Inside”, although I liked and made more progress with the rocks.

Myself and many others deserve the punishment we got, but I also believe many of us deserve another chance.  Please help to give us that chance by supporting, in an active way, this cause.  Just like the Jesus rocks, if you work at it, it will reach many people.  Just think of the progress that could be made if many went to work!  Please, because many of you have given up, renew the hope you had in the beginning and do more than try.  “Make a difference!”  You will, and I and many others love and thank you for making the way for our new start in life.

Thank you!