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Dallas Wright — March 2013

Dear JB,

I apologize for the lapse in time since I’ve reached out and expressed not only my regret for an immature state of mind prior to today, but also the appreciation I have for how life unfolds in such a necessary fashion.

My incarceration within the adult system has been many things. The more prominent emotion, however, is hurt. I know you have or had a file of me, so I won’t extend this letter with details. What I will say is at 15, I began my life journey through the judicial system, and in the last nine years, I’ve lost many loved ones, but I’ve grown. Today, I have no relationship with my family, and mail rarely comes. Pain has been my prison bit, but so has growth.

Although it’d be nicer to have mail all the time and a list of people that support me, walking out of the destruction I created up to now alone may be what I need. The twist my story took that was very unexpected by me is how I signed up for IFI, a faith-based 18-month program inside of prison, sponsored by the late Chuck Colson and Al Quie. Well, what began as a move from Rush City to Lino Lakes solely to be “local” turned out not only as the beginning of a mental re-birth, but a far better understanding of life.

My entire stay behind prison walls, I’ve worked as a tutor. After losing my job for reasons not permitting termination, my interest turned to painting. Hmm, never would’ve known that I have a strong passion to paint. Not portraits, but the interior walls of structures. I work Monday – Friday here in prison as a painter, fixing holes in drywall, priming and painting large and small areas within the prison. I enjoy what I do, and pray that upon release, just as my incarceration has been a journey of growth and development, my vision is that a career in painting will be what transforms my mind from corruption to production.

Right now, I sit two years and 11 months from my release on parole, or one year and 11 months from work release. Currently, my wish is to return to Hennepin County where I was born, do a few months in a halfway house, and live a better life than I’ve known. I was born to a pimp/short changer and an ex-callgirl. Prior to my crime at the age of 15, my memories consisted of rental cars and cheap hotels. I spent my childhood on the highway, so the vision of my mind has been poisoned. After being in court-ordered placements since 15, I’m ready to see if life as a voting, tax-paying citizen is better.

JB, with all due respect and with humility, I write this letter hoping to be of some sort of benefit to you in the future. Whether that be speaking to the youth, giving my testimony in hope none will choose a path of prison, or if I may, give my services as a painter in any fashion out of respect for you giving me multiple chances in life.

Everything happens for a reason, I now know. As my sentence is winding down, I’m working more on the foundation of a brighter future. I know that my exit from your group home was by far a success, but I don’t desire for that to be the last chapter in my book. I think, whenever possible, we all should attempt to mend things we destructed in our lessor self. Along with doing the painting job, I’m working on self publishing a collection of poetry. I have 70 complete pieces, but desire around 120 before I look into bookbinding and the technicalities. Building for a positive future has been a challenge in here, not being able to save any money or have a support group outside of other inmates.

Deep inside, i want a life far greater than the one I was brought into, or the one I’ve made so far. At my job, I have a few hundred hours of on-the-job training towards my journeyman painter’s gig. My boss lets me practice in a pair of drywall stilts which speed the job up a lot. I haven’t learned how to bid a job, but mudding holes in walls, prime, paint — I’m real sharp with these skills. And my spirituality isn’t where it needs to be, but I’ve prayed and spoke with God more in the last two years than the 24 I’ve been alive. Struggling with having faith that all will come together if I stay in line. Still trying to control my outcome with hands that have sabotaged myself.

I’m sorry this letter isn’t longer or more detailed about my last few years. It’s been on my mind to write this for roughly a month — just drop a line and say thank you. I really wish I would’ve appreciated what I had a lot more. I came to your group home focused, but allowed negative choices to trigger a self-sabotage spiral. I was quickly consumed by things withheld from me by being in stricter settings previous. I hope, JB, that what I did as an individual did not alter your vision when giving kids on EJJ a chance. Speaking personally, kids like me need a lot more positive involvement from angles of life that connect with them. When we don’t feel firmly rooted in anything, the wind may blow our direction off course. I wouldn’t know how to begin to amend the people I disrespected by all I did, but now in life, I’m opening my heart up to things more spiritual, more positive. I don’t want to rot in here. Although fast living still shimmers at me, I’m fixing my eyes on longevity so I may know what it means to live.

I give my services in the near future to you, sir, and if any of this is a possible benefit to the group you now have, all is free for sharing. Unfortunately, I had more growth to do that could not be obtained in comfort. Hopefully the pain today will lead to the pleasures of tomorrow.

I thank you sincerely for every last thing you and your staff did for me. I blame no one for my current residence. I embrace my journey as a reflection of decisions consciously made. Only problem was my conscious was void. Feel free to respond. I am willing to write back.

Thank you.