The Sentence (by Guest Blogger Timothy Baker)
When I got out of prison in January 2002, I was hopeful that I’d be able to get my life back on track. While I was inside, I got my GED and plumbing trade certificate; I had worked for almost 10 years for free, so I figured getting a job and getting paid for it would be fun.
But as I searched for work, time after time, as soon as I mentioned my criminal record I could see in their eyes the answer before it even left their lips. They would always try and soften the blow, but it all came down to the same thing: “No!” All the places I went with my plumbing certificate all said the same thing too: “You have a burglary of a habitation conviction, my insurance wouldn’t even let me hire you if I wanted to.”
My GED wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. I had no credit history whatsoever and that’s worse than having bad credit. From January until the beginning of April I had no luck. Sure there were jobs, but they wouldn’t have paid my rent, let alone put food on the table. I was in need of something that I could live on.
Tired of the rejections, I decided I was going to rob one person to get $500, so I could buy a car to help me find work. I had called all my old friends from the church I went to, but they wouldn’t help me and my family didn’t have any money, so I did the only thing I could – or thought I could at the time. I robbed a couple and almost got caught. I didn’t even get any money, but a $10 bill the guy had in his wallet. But I got away and I promised myself from that moment on I’d never do anything like that again. I told God and every other higher power I could think of to please not let me get caught and for a while, I didn’t.
I met a girl, who let me live with her. I found a job working in a fast food restaurant and even though it wasn’t enough to survive on, I was OK because my girl had a job too. I even signed up for college and took micro computer applications because the college counsellor said it was in high demand.
From April until September I worked my butt off and went to school. Never did a thought cross my mind to break the law.
I wasn’t perfect and neither was my girl. We both saw other people. I had another girl on the side that I was seeing. One day she saw a police artist sketch of a man suspected of robbing a couple and it looked like me. She confronted me on it and just the look on my face told her all she needed to know. She told me I had to turn myself in, and no matter what I told her, she wouldn’t back down. I threatened, I cursed, I yelled, and even pulled a knife on her, and she pretended to agree with what I said. But as soon as I left, she called the cops at her neighbours urging, who had heard us fighting the night before.
So, here I sit. I got 60 years for aggravated robbery and I will be 57 years old when I come up for my first parole. In 30 years, half of the 60 years. I doubt I’ll make parole… and the story goes but I’ll leave it there for now.