When you were a child, did you fear being murdered every time you stepped out of your house? As a child, did people always remind you that you “ain’t nothin’, and you ain’t never going to be nothing?'” As an adolescent, did you have to learn how to be violent to protect yourself? Well, those are only a few pitfalls that I faced as a child. Although my inability to deal with those pitfalls caused me to spend 32 years in prison, I have used that time to self educate and establish better morals unto myself. Hopefully, one day I will be able to live a productive life in society and help others.
Growing up on Puritan Avenue, in the ’70s, danger stalked me. Walking to school I had to sidestep drug needles that littered the cracked pavement, and I had to keep my eyes peered at vacant houses peppering the neighbourhood to make sure that a “stranger” didn’t snatch me inside to inflict unthinkable sadistic acts, which was a problem in Detroit at that time.
As a teen, crime saturated my neighbourhood. Consequently, a large percentage of older teens whom I came in contact with were already breaking in the house, stealing cars, and robbing people. Needless to say that peer pressure had a huge influence on me.
I remember the first time I broke into a house; I was thirteen. Fear caused every bone in my body to vibrate. An older dude named Tank burst out the back window of a house, which sent a pain through my heart. I felt my knees buckle when he told me to climb through the window and go open the back door for him. I bucked my eyes at him and said, “Man, you go in there, I ain’t ’bout to do that.”
He frowned and said, “You coward little b*tch, you can’t be acting like a hoe if you goin’ hang wit’ me.”
To make a long story short, I climbed through the window and opened the door to prove myself. Tank took everything and didn’t give me anything.
Homelife was painful too; my grandmother saw that I was going down the wrong path, so she degrade me to try to influence me into changing. “Ernest, you ain’t nothing and you ain’t never gonna be nothing,” or “You’re a low down good for nothing nincompoop.” From the age of six to thirteen, I didn’t know what a nincompoop was, but I knew it was something bad.
Whenever I got tired of listening to grandma, I would say something real sassy, like “Shut up!” I realized that it was a severe mistake to say that, because I knew my mother would beat me half to death with an extension cord as soon she found out, and grandma always told on me.
As a result of getting beat half to death and being verbally assaulted, I searched for a haven in the ghetto streets. By the time I was fourteen, I had been moulded into the lying, cheating no-good thief that my grandmother had assured me that I would become.
My crimes landed me in five different juvenile facilities. After I graduated from juvenile, I attended MDOC University. At first, I didn’t take prison seriously. I would serve a few years, get out, then start committing more crimes.
My mother always told me that I didn’t have the personality of a criminal, and I didn’t. I was too friendly and considerate. I got used and manipulated a lot. It wasn’t until I served time in prison and became a bodybuilder that I was able to defend myself. Because people used to beat me up all the time when I was young, I vowed that I would never beat up people smaller than I was. I prided myself on preying on predators in prison.
After serving fifteen years in prison, I went home as a super criminal.
At the age of thirty-five, all of that came to an end when a judge sentenced me to twenty-five years in prison for armed robbery. Although that amount of time seemed like a death sentence, I must admit that prison saved my life.
What’s ironic is that every time a judge sent me to prison, someone would murder one of my partners in crime. This time, eight of my partners were murdered.
After being sentenced to twenty-five years, I felt like I had nothing to lose. I began to gamble, making wine, selling drugs, and get into knife fights with other prisoners. (Business as usual.)
However, my life changed when I was serving four years in solitary confinement for bad behaviour. Having a lot of soul searching and realized I had been indoctrinated with a criminal mentality. That is when I began my journey toward change. The first thing I did was to memorize an English book. Then I ordered a book on how to write novels. As of this date, I have written four books, and I am searching for a publisher.
After I left solitary confinement, I struggled to stay on the right path. I made many mistakes along the way, but now I’ve gained control of my conduct. I don’t gamble, use drugs or commit crimes any more. I even stopped eating meat, and I practice yoga.
Now, I have eight years to serve in prison, unless I get an early release.
At the age of fifty-one, I am focussed on keeping my life in order. I hope to become a successful novelist. My main goals are to come home, settle down, get married, and start a family.
In addition, I have studied government, politics, and law. I plan to become a social activist, with a goal of motivating the underprivileged to educate themselves and participate in politics.
I have learned that nature uses pain to teaches us what not to do. When we stick our hand in fire, it burns. Through that pain, we learn not to stick our hands in fire. I have experienced enough pain to know not to commit crimes.
God has saved me because I have a good heart. As a child, I never wanted to be a bad person, and I’ve always felt remorse for commuting crimes. I had to learn everything through trial and error. To anyone who has ever been a victim of crime, I apologize, and I promise that I will spend the rest of my life being a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem.
Ernest K. Hall #196363
Thumbs Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Drive
Lapeer, MI 48446