Watching Them Grow…

By Rory Andes

Growth and change aren’t mandated in prison, but it should be…

There’s a strange thing about seeing anyone after a decade, but in prison, it’s far beyond just watching them grow. I recently ran into a kid, a man now, named Robbie who I met in county jail ten years ago. At the time I met him, he had just turned 19 and had been mired in a multi-defendant, year long case of a home invasion turned badly when a home resident was killed. He’s a pretty big guy and his job in the event was to break through locked doors in the home. All of his codefendants were in their late 20s and 30s and really exploited this kid for his size. In all accounts of the media and his court findings, he was just muscle and not a planner or trigger man. I remember talking to him in county jail and his regret then was just getting caught up in the wrong crowd. As I went off to prison, he was still sorting through his case. Fast forward to today…

It took me a second to place Robbie’s face (he often goes by Robert now), as it lost a lot of the youthful features. He didn’t recognize me at all until we started talking. I had asked him how everything turned out and he said he received a seventeen year sentence for his part in the crime. Most of his codefendants received extremely long sentences for the murder. When I asked him about his time in prison, he admitted he spent a some years still trying to please the wrong crowd. Then one day, a few years ago, he did what a lot of guys his age in prison do and started to pull his head from his ass. It’s a process and the science of youthfulness and incarceration have been well documented and Robert was no different. When I asked about his regrets the other day, his focus was squarely on the victims in the case. He showed a remorse that only comes when the human evolution happens in prison. It does happen and that is the spark of justice. Robert talked about how scared the homeowners must have been and how awful it was to see a man die at the hands of his once “friends”. We talked a while more and I caught him up on opportunities he could take advantage of in his growth. As tragic as it is to see someone grow in prison, it’s important to know it happens. Robert still has room for it and his eyes are wide open now.

by Rory Andes

Growth and change aren’t mandated in prison, but it should be…

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