Well..... like Jerry Garcia said,
"What a long strange trip it's
MY LONG STRANGE
name is Arthur DeTullio, and I am a 41 year-old father, grandfather, ex-convict, writer,
poet, welder, and human being.
I was born in Derby, Connecticut, in the Griffin Hospital. A town named
after a hat, in a hospital named for a fictional monster. From such stoned origins to I
I grew up along the ocean in the state of Maine, in a small coastal
town called Wells. There are worse places to grow up. As a child, I had a sand box five
miles long. I called it my sand box, but the town, less imaginatively, called it Moody
My home sat at a cross-road I like to call Dysfunction Junction. To
deal with the isolation and the traumas visited upon me at a very young age, I began
drinking and drugging in my early adolescence. By high school, I was an every day drinker,
and a day that I wasn't able to get high was a day I considered a failure.
My criminal career began to blossom during my teen years. Drugs and
alcohol cost money, and burglary proved to be an effective method of earning.
I never spent any time in a juvenile facility, although I was arrested
enough, but two weeks after my eighteenth birthday, the local police arrested me for my
first adult burglary. It was said they held a party in anticipation of my departure to the
state prison in Thomaston. If so, their celebration was premature.
I have served approximately 16 years in various penal facilities up and
down the East Coast, but have yet to set foot in my home state prison. My incarcerations
have extended as far South as Florida, where in 1976, I served one-year of hard labor on
the Sarasota County Chain Gang, to as far North as Massachusetts, where in 1986, I served
ten years in the state prison at Walpole. There have been many stops in between, such as
two years in Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and 16 months in Lagrange,
Kentucky, but I have never fulfilled the expectations of the Wells police force by ending
up in Thomaston.
As to county jail stays and sentences, they are far too numerous to
name or remember. All of which stands as both a statement, and an example, of a life
wasted in so many different ways.
My life was drastically altered by my last incarceration in
Massachusetts. Walpole was, by far, the worst of the Hate Factories I ever had the
displeasure to live in. During my ten-year stay, I witnessed a number of murders,
riots, stabbings, and assaults, plus heard of many rapes through the prison Grapevine.
It was not the violence of Walpole, however, that altered my life. I
had served enough time to be numb to that aspect of prison. What produced the change that
has enabled me to stay free for over two years now (a personal best) was the prison
college program offered throughout the system. In May, of 1992, I received my BA from
Boston University while residing in MCI-Norfolk, where I had been transferred from
Walpole. My education was the single most important factor in my decision to turn from
drugs, alcohol, and a life of crime, and devote myself to writing and making amends to my
While in Norfolk, I had the opportunity to read a book that would open
my eyes like nothing before or since. That book was The Autobiography of Malcolm X,
by Alex Haley. Malcolm X was not the standard reading material of most white convicts, but
I was fortunate enough to have the book assigned to me in a class.
The fact was not wasted on me that it was night there in Norfolk, where
I was at the time, that Malcolm Little began the metamorphosis that would culminate in the
creation of Malcolm X. This was a man who, prior to entering prison, described himself as
I do not say that some form of incarceration is not necessary. I have
met men in prison that I would not want to meet anywhere but prison. But the system as it
exists now is wrong. It produces nothing but hateful, angry, and twisted human beings.
The prison system belongs to the public. It is not the property, loath
though they are to admit it, of the Corrections Officials who oversee it like modem day
Caesars. The public has a right to demand an accounting, as much as they have a right to
demand accountability of elected public officials. The Corrections Officials are aware of
this, from the Wardens down to the guards, but they treat the public as either prying
spies, or "Bleeding Hearts," attempting to '(.coddle" convicts. Prison
walls exist as much to keep the eyes of the public out, as they do to keep the convicted
in! It doesn't hurt these prison keepers that the public, for the most part, really
This same public must be educated to view the prison process as an
investment, just as our tax dollars (the same tax dollars that pay for these prisons) are
an investment. Prisons are factories, and the raw material is convicts. As tax payers, we
have a right to know what our public factories are producing. What do we want as a return
on our investment? Ex-convicts with no skills, education, or counseling, or human beings
who have served their time, paid their pound of flesh, and are now prepared to re-enter
the world with the skills to contribute rather than just take?
Think about it. And also remember the words of another ex-convict, one
who was sentenced to death, then executed for his crimes:
"Let he among you who is without sin
cast the first stone."
CELL DOOR ARTICLES:
THE PROFESSOR LEARNS A LESSON
Last Update 09/05/09