Testimony From Charles, death row
The failing of the war on drugs?
Why do I think I ever got into the drug business in the first place?
If I can be brutally honest and open with you, that was not my life. My upbringing was one of poverty, but my mom worked 3 jobs 6 to 7 days a week, sometimes 18 hours a day, so she could put food on the table.
I grew up wanting to be a firefighter or a cop. Then the crack cocaine epidemic hit my town, as well as many poor neighborhoods in America. Everybody in my town was selling drugs: the chief of police, the sheriff was actually part of one of the biggest drug smuggling operations in Louisiana, a multi million dollars operation. And if you were not selling drugs, you were using them.
I hated drug dealers but I loved my Dad, so when he drunkenly told me one night that he wanted us to be partners, the confusion that my 16-year-old self went through was crazy - which led to my first attempted suicide.
So I didn't sell drugs to feed my family, I sold drugs to win approval of a man I loved as a father... just may be if I can win his approval, may be he will tell me he loves me. And if drugs was the only way I could sit a foot away from my Dad and feel his silent love, then I was gonna sell as much drugs as he gave me.
(...) Soon people began to worship me like a God. People start to treat you different, like you are important. See, it is not even about money, it is about power.
The reasons why people get involved with drugs are different for each person, because they all have their own story to tell. But in most cases, it is just a way of life. 70%, if not more, of this American Society is involved in the tax free drug trade. That includes the same people who lock people up, have investments in the drug trade too. I know that because I had two judges and a District Attorney under my control when I was free back in Louisiana. People get locked up for using drugs and yet there is more drugs in prison than in some towns. How can that be?
To have a positive outcome, that may have lead to a change in course of my life, would mean one thing:
A change in my environment as a whole. Guys who came from the same environment that I had, but became professional ball players or rich educators or investors had one thing in common, that I didn't. They were all adopted by foster families and were moved into their upper-middle class suburban neighborhoods, where they had a chance to refocus on priorities.
My children are succeeding "only" because I helped their mothers to live in suburban neighborhoods, so they didn't grow around drug dealers, uneducated adults who exist for that day only.
It starts with education. See, where I grew up, Louisiana as a whole state ranked dead last in education in America. No-one had hope of becoming someone special and productive to a national or international society.
Now you send someone back to that environment, like me-educated and a person of legal and positive productivity, someone that the street people will respect, then you can begin to change a culture. You can prevent other lost children from acts of street crimes and bad choices.
Otherwise, you can send Jesus Christ to the "hood", and no-one will respect him, because they will feel that he isn't one of them. He doesn't know the ways of their struggle.
Charles is currently on death row in the USA for a crime in which he maintains his complete innocence. However, he fully accepts his past involvement in the drugs dealing business.