I’d like to share with you the transcript of the presentation I gave to the G.I.V.E Seminar yesterday at Marion CI in front of an audience of invited guests and, of course, young men recently incarcerated who have important decisions to make as to how they spend their time incarcerated and then the rest of their lives:
“Hello, my name is Shawn, and I’m here for two, no, three reasons: to ask something of you, to request something of you, and because like everyone else in this room, I care.
What I want for you to do is, I want you to imagine something. I want you to imagine what it would be like to serve 21 years on death row.
- How would that feel do you think?!
- How would that affect those you love?! Your mom, your kids, etc.
Now I want to go a little deeper and ask you to imagine what it would be like if you were 6 days away from your scheduled execution. I need you to really get inside that space; inside that cell.
- What are some of the things that would go through your mind?
- What are some of the things you’d wanna say to those you love in those last days?
- How would that last family visit feel? YOU SEE, I know intimately what that experience is like…every ounce of it. Because I was next in line to be executed and if you are anything like I was when I was on the street, you would probably think never in a million years that you would ever be on death row, let alone for 21 years and coming 6 days away from being executed. It’s just never a thought to you. But there I was. I can honestly tell you, too, that it has all been a profoundly painful experience; one that I would never wish on anyone.When I was sitting in that cell days away from that execution, I asked myself
- how did this become my life?
- how did I get here?
I had asked myself these questions numerous times and have come up with different answers along the way, but there’s something about being close to death that means clarity seems to really kick in.
The answer I came up with, though, has everything to do with the fact that I didn’t pay attention to the consequences of how I was living my life, and I didn’t care.
Without judgement, how many of you are sitting where you are because you just weren’t paying attention to how you were living and/or just didn’t care? Because I can tell you that the price has been enormous for me and my family and it continues to be.
What price is too much for you and your family?
I hope this is an experience you never have to go through. I was one of the fortunate ones to get out of there alive. Why I survived it and so many of the other guys I called friends didn’t, I can’t explain. All I know is that I’m here. And I’m grateful to be here, to be able to encourage you young men to start paying attention to how you live your lives because the TRUTH is, CONSEQUENCES are real. I’d like to thank the organizers of this event for inviting me to speak here today. It’s been an honor.”
The whole day was very well received and I was just one of four former death row inmates that took to the stage to speak. Here’s hoping our message was heard, loud and clear.
Here’s a link to some other good work that is taking place at Marion CI: