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A Taste of Cold Steel

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A Taste of Cold Steel

When I was 10 my mother moved?to the McDonough Housing Projects in St. Paul, Mn. I was already drinking and using cigarettes. Soon, I was?engaged in petty thefts-breaking into cars, stealing from stores. My first contact with the St. Paul Police Dept. occurred when I was 7; it made its way into my juvenile criminal history.

The next nine years? was a burst of crime for me, going repeatedly to a juvenile?jail (Woodview Detention Center), three extended six-month stays at a? Ramsey County (St. Paul) juvenile home (Boys Totem Town), to the Minnesota Youth Conservation Commission at Lino Lakes, MN., (Lino Lakes Diagnostic and Reception Center), the Minnesota State Training School for Boys (Red Wing Training School for Boys), the St. Paul City Jail and then? St. Cloud Reformatory for Men at St. Cloud, Mn.

During this time I progressed from alcohol and cigarettes to marijuana, hallucinigens, speed and barbituates to shoot-dope, including cocaine and morphine. I entered St. Cloud Reformatory addicted to shoot-dope and?afflicted with?hepatitus C from a dirty needle. I continued to shoot drugs in prison, resulting in a fight with guards and spending 30 days in segregation.

While in segregation I finally confronted my demons and planned my road to recovery. Over the next nine months I enrolled in group therapy, began college-courses through St. Cloud State University and?was paroled to the U. of M. on the Minneapolis campus. I continued my therapy?at Project Newgate where I eventually became a counselor and then?a group leader. After obtaining my B.A. degree in political science,?I took the law school admission test?and was admitted to law school. While attending law school I processed, and received, a pardon, graduated?and was admitted as an attorney.

Over the past 35 years I have been a criminal defense attorney, handling cases ranging from drugs to white-collar crime?and murder in and outside Minnesota.?Now, I speak to?various groups?about what motivated me to embrace?irresponsible and destructive behavior and what I discovered in a?prison cell that-ultimately-saved my life.

Live one day at a time, while viewing the future by building?on small, incremental accomplishments. It may?not be easy, but neither is the alternative.


This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

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