Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Matthew Schroeder testimony

My name is Matthew Schroeder, and I am a convict. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. You have to grow up quick where I lived. I learned at a very early age that people take advantage of others. My neighborhood was not the safest place to grow up, and the things that went on around me, I just grew up thinking was normal. I realized at an early age that money made the world go around. But now I know that this is not what will make you happy in life.

I can’t exactly explain why, but I always had the fastest and easiest connections to whatever you needed. For this reason, I was the very best “middle man” you have ever seen. Anything, anytime! I never thought twice about the destruction I was causing in the lives of others. Some people will do anything for their fix, and I mean anything. I wasn’t just hurting that addict, but their families as well. But back then they were nothing but what we called Cluckers!

I became very popular, not because I was a great guy, but because I had what they wanted. After a couple of years of living this way (the "Highlife"), I was stabbed, robbed, beaten and I wanted out of this life. I needed a drastic lifestyle change, so I joined the baddest group known to man, the U.S. Marines. I moved to California. I would like to end the story here, but I can’t. I began to drink very heavily. I was getting into fights and losing control of myself. After two years, the Marines couldn’t even handle my outburst. I received an OTH, or an 'Other Than Honorable Discharge' from the service.

I continued to drink and lost control everywhere I went... Every city and every state. Ultimately, I landed myself here in prison, in a city I’ve never seen, in a state I’ve never even thought about before.

I was sentenced to 30 years, and I thought the world didn’t have a purpose for me anymore, so I came to prison thinking I was never going to leave. I treated it like I was going to war. Little did I know that it was the most dangerous battle I would ever have: The battle with myself.

After years of living what I call now the revolving door, I was doing 90 days “again” in the SHU, also known as the Segregated Housing Unit. It just hit me like a lightning bolt, this is the way I live my life. Let me tell you this is no way to live... Mad at everyone in the world. Mostly I hated, and I mean hated, myself. After this time in the SHU my life changed forever. I had to do the hardest thing ever. I had to take responsibility for my actions in life and for all the horrible decisions I have made in it. That’s when I could really start to live comfortably and even start forgiving others. That was my gateway to what I now consider my happiness. I began taking Alternatives to Violence classes and other classes that I felt would help me grow as a man.

Now I volunteer. I facilitate the Alternatives to Violence classes and experiences. I have received a sentence modification from my judge and I’m currently serving only a 13-year sentence. I truly believe in myself and I know that anyone can change but they really have to want it. It’s a hard thing to do. I believe my journey in life has really just begun.