Sterling Cunio

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win

NPR/OBP: "How A Woman Serving Life In Prison Made The Judge Who Sentenced Her Proud"

After the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles were unconstitutional, the Court ordered states to review the cases of prisoners given that sentence. We hear about one prisoner in that situation, Jennifer Pruit, and the connection she made with the judge that sentenced her. Listen to the radio clip (6:35):

An Apology

Let me be clear about some things from the very beginning...I have the rare liberty to express myself freely without any fear of consequence, condemnation or ridicule.

I have spent my entire adult life trapped in a concrete tomb that most people call a cell. Every day and night is spent in the place that I am supposed to die as an old man for crimes committed as a kid.

The most disgraceful skeleton in my closet has been front page news, plastered across the Internet. World-wide shame with a few clicks and a Google search - my entire existence, within nanoseconds, is defined by my single worst failure at humanity.

All my material possessions fit in a space half the size of a bedroom closet and can be taken based upon a guards’ interpretation of my attitude and behavior. Hence, I attach little value to them so that I have nothing to lose materially.

My job is sweeping up goose shit for approximately one dollar a day. Needless to say, I worry little about damaging my career.

With the exception of a few who truly know me through personal interaction, I am perceived only as a dangerous criminal or murdering monster deserving of only the worst.

Reputation isn’t something I have to worry about protecting.

The bottom that others may fear hitting if their lives ever spun out of control, is the topsoil I’ve been buried underneath for two decades.

Trapped in a box and surrounded by more zombies than those on “The Walking Dead,” I still possess a tremendous liberty of immense value – authenticity.

My only freedom is expression and there is nothing I ever have to worry about saying that could impact me negatively. I am like the slave that has mastered my truth as liberty.

Thus, I share my truths born of tragedy and triumph, independent of any approval except self.

In these words I share pieces of my soul in hopes they may contribute something meaningful to the life of another, in any capacity.

The first and most important personal truth I wish to share is that: I AM SORRY.

My past is littered with harms inflicted on the lives of many that I victimized. I am responsible for causing numerous forms of sufferance from death to verbal abuse.

I have traumatized families. I have lied to people that trusted me and stole items that didn’t belong to me. I have assaulted people and taken advantage of people’s insecurities.

I have used fear to intimidate and control others. I have sold drugs to people sick with addiction. I have said intentionally painful words to hurt another. I have been insensitive to the vulnerabilities of others and failed to respond compassionately in their time of need.

There were times, especially in prison, when I did not help another solely to avoid putting myself at risk. I have stepped on bugs for simply running across the floor of a cell I detest.

For all of this, and so much more, I am sorry.

Sterling Cunio & Circle of Support © 2016