My NAME IS DENNIS MINTUN AND I’M A SURVIVOR
“5 fixed, 10 indeterminate on count 1; 10 fixed, 5 indeterminate on counts 2 and 3; and 15 years fixed on count 4.”
It was worse than I hoped for, but better than I expected. Run together, I would be out in 15 years. Then came the bombshell; “as I feel you are a threat to society, these sentences are to run consecutive.”
It took a minute or so for it to sink in. When it finally did, my knees went weak, and my attorney had to hold me up... I'd have to do 40 years before I'd be eligible for parole. And, if they didn’t grant me parole, I'd be in prison for 60 years!
My life was over. I would be at least 80 years old before I'd be free again. All my life plans were shot; that wasn’t even the end of it. In court, it came out that I was gay. My very conservative family promptly disowned me. They hadn't known because I was married to a transgender who looked female. Worried that she'd be arrested, my wife left town and later divorced me. Then, the business I had owned was sold at auction for pennies on the dollar.
When I got to prison, it continued to get worse. My conviction was for a sex offender. The fact that I hadn't touched anyone didn’t matter to the other inmates. To them I was a “mo” (molester). The only reason I didn’t get too much hassle was because I weighed over 300 pounds, and looked like a biker. Except for the couple of times a group ganged up on me, I was pretty much left alone. Physically, that is. Mentally was another story.
Anyway, here I was basically doing a life sentence; no family; no spouse; no friends; and shunned by most of the inmates. I seriously considered suicide. Growing up, I'd been beaten, molested, and verbally abused. However, nothing had prepared me for a lifetime of prison. I honestly did not know how I would survive.
Then things began to happen that would turn my life around. The first was that I won part of my appeal, and the 4th count was dismissed. I went from 40 years fixed to just 25 (and I’m still fighting). Over the years, as people got to know the real me, I’ve been able to make some good friends. For the past five years, I’ve been the captain of a prison softball team. I run a chapel class twice a week that people seem to enjoy. And, besides various stories and articles in magazines like Spotlight on Recovery, I've published 3 non-fiction books, (Kingdom of Erotes, The Book of the Magi, and Erosian Mythology), and a couple of fiction books ( “A Moral Dilemma” and “Time Changes”) on Prisons Foundation.org. I'm constantly writing.
Why? Because, a few years back I learned the secret to surviving - finding a purpose. Before that, all I had to my name was a lengthy prison record and a bad reputation. I finally made a decision: to leave a positive legacy.
Now, I have a number of goals. One is to be a successful author — but not just to entertain. I want everything I write (even fiction) to have a message. Or, at least to make people think. Most importantly, I want to reach out to people who don't think they have anything to live for, and, to help them find a purpose.
I’m not saying everything has been roses. Far from it. Most of my family still won't speak to me. I still get hassled on occasion for my crime-usually by people who don’t have all the facts. I’ve been through some legal battles for civil rights violations. I’ve been in a couple of serious fights — one where a good friend had his skull cracked open. I’ve lost a couple of friends to suicide. And, one of only two members of my family who accepted me (my aunt) passed away.
While it gets tempting, at times, to just “give up”, I’ve learned to see the bigger picture, and be a survivor — by helping others survive. I’ve decided I want to leave this earth knowing that people I’ve come in contact with are better off than before I met them.
Bottom line: I’m a survivor, because I have a purpose...to help others find theirs.
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