Countless times I have sat back and listened to the testimonials told by my fellow prisoners. Stories of how drugs, alcohol, and in general living a street life led to their imprisonment. In the midst of many of these stories the individual would say how they were warned by someone who actually cared about their future, and that continuing down the wrong track would lead to either an early death or prison.

My story was a little different from most in that drugs, or living the often glorified “street life” was not a part of my life around the time I was arrested for the crimes in which I am incarcerated for. That is not to say that I was always a law abiding citizen, because I was not. Early on, I would willingly participate in abhorrent behaviors, specifically fights in school and petty shoplifting. But where I think I was different is that I phased out of that mentality or lifestyle at a relatively early age. Well, an early age in my opinion. I was 17 years old and had just done time for unarmed robbery. What I had seen and experienced during that 11-month stint of county jail time then boot camp was enough for me to sit back and reflect on what life I wanted to live.

It was then that I decided to be on the “straight and narrow,” and become a law abiding citizen. This was a route that was natural for me. Even though I was no angel, I’m positive that those who knew me personally would say I was a good person. I’m 100% positive that my good outweighed my bad. One positive attribute about myself that I am proud of is my work ethic at an early age. When I was 14 years old, without any coercion from my mother, I picked up the Lansing State Journal and looked for a job. There in the classified section, I found an advertisement seeking a “paper boy.” Shortly, afterwards with my mother’s signature of approval, I had my first job at 14 years old. By the age of 16, I was still delivering newspapers every morning before school. And I’m proud to say I was an honor roll student. After school, I worked a part-time job at a popular fast food chain, and on weekends I worked at a veterinary hospital as a kennel helper.  

At an early age, I, as did others, thought I was on a path to success. Now, I’m 34 years old and serving a life sentnece for first-degree felony murder, and two current sentences of 25-50 years for assault with intent to commit murder. My name is Terrance Taylor, and I have been in prison for 20 years for crimes committed when I was 18 years old. I am a person, more than just my inmate number. I am the oldest of two siblings and the son of the greatest woman who has ever walked the earth, Ms. Jacqueline Taylor (RIP). What I want people to know is that no one is inherently “bad or “a miscreant.” There are always other factors which lead to adverse or deviant lifestyles, or behaviors. Just throwing a person away without knowing what went wrong should not be how a civilized nation deals with its citizens. Especially when they have demonstrated change, or are capable of change.

To date I have been misconduct free for over 13 years, and for going on 5 years I have been training dogs to become service dogs while in prison. Training the dogs is my way of giving back to the community. I believe the parole board has a duty to find out who I am now and then decide whether I am a threat to society. If it is concluded that I am not a threat, then I should be given a shot at parole.

Terrance Taylor.