Eighteen years ago, I was sentenced to 32 years in prison for a crime committed at the age of 15. It has been a long, difficult road at times, but I haven’t allowed the circumstances of my life to defeat me. I may not have gotten everything right, but I can say that I am proud to be the man that I have become. 

The majority of these last 18 years has been dedicated to staying mentally and physically fit, which continues to be my focus. I seek out any opportunities to learn and absorb any information or knowledge that I can. I have also become an artist and a musician, and I stay active regularly. 

As I have grown and matured, I have noticed significant changes in myself as well. Personally, I was a very angry, impetuous child, who had zero confidence in himself. Each year that passed, I noticed that the anger subsided, and I grew in confidence with every new thing I tried to accomplish. I even learned through my failures what my weaknesses were, or where I could improve. I soon realized that progress, not perfection, was the goal. I believe it’s natural for a person to go through these changes over their lifetime, and I’m sure most people would agree that they are not the same person today that they were at 16. 

Each year that passed, I noticed that the anger subsided, and I grew in confidence with every new thing I tried to accomplish.

Another change I have noticed within myself are the things that matter to me, or what I place importance on. I wish to have a career, do some traveling, volunteer my time where it’s needed, but most importantly, I hope to have a family of my own. With every passing year, I feel these things fading farther and farther away from becoming a reality. I will be 47 years old at my first chance of parole, which makes some of these virtually impossible to attain. I am completely confident in my willingness to succeed, but I can’t help feeling that the probability of success or having a meaningful life decreases, the longer I remain incarcerated. All I need is an opportunity to begin my life at an earlier age. 

To whomever may be reading this, I ask that you listen to reason and common sense. We must change ridiculous sentencing practices, and implement some form of “good time.” If you truly want to know the men and women who are incarcerated and will be returning to society one day, then I encourage you to reach out to them and get to know the person that he/she is. There are good people in here, and all they need is a second chance to prove themselves. As for myself, I will continue to remain focused and hopeful. My eyes are firmly set on the future, where I know the best years of my life await me. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. 


Brandon Marsh