My Painful Paradox | Aaron Fulton
“What feels like the end is often the beginning.” ~ T. S. Eliot
This is a call to action.
I have big hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations. Although I prefer to speak through my actions, I’m limited to writing these words for now . . . which may not come as a surprise given where I am and where I’ve been.
For the past 13 years, I’ve been in prison for murder. I was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years and I’ve never killed anyone. I am not innocent and I did not pull the trigger. My conviction came under the Texas “Law of Parties,” which states that anyone who participates in a crime as an accessory is just as guilty as the person who committed it. This isn’t a defense. It is my story. My painful paradox.
The crime happened when I was 16 years old and my life felt like it had no purpose. In a black depression, I didn’t care if I lived or died. In that self-destructive state of mind, I made a lot of poor decisions. But the one I’m most ashamed of is the one that landed me in here.
Two guys I knew were feuding with a man. They kicked in his door, intending to kill him. I stood lookout outside an apartment. The man survived the attack without injury but his pregnant wife was killed by mistake. I’ve spent every day of the past 13 years haunted by my role in that and wishing I had the power to change it.
On February 7, 2008, at 9 am, I was arrested and placed in Harris County’s Juvenile Justice Center. Six months later, the juvenile court-certified me to stand trial as an adult, and I was transferred to Harris County Jail. For reasons I will never understand, they put me into administrative segregation: a sterile euphemism for solitary confinement.
For three years, I was confined alone to a cell for 23 hours a day.
This was a dangerous time for me. On the street, I’d already felt worthless. With the possibility of a life sentence hanging over my head, I was put in a cell alone with nothing but concrete and iron and a thin plastic mattress. I had zero hope.
People commit suicide because their options narrow to the point that they see no other escape. At the time, I saw my only two options were taking my own life or suffering through the rest of it until nature took me out.
The only reason I’m alive today is my mother. Suicide is selfish. It was only knowing what my death would do to my mother that I chose to keep living. If not for her, I would have died before I found my reason for living.
In March of 2011, I pleaded guilty in exchange for a 25-year sentence. I am eligible for parole but I received a 2-year setoff in July. My next review is in 2022. Until the day I am released, my focus is on preparing for my life after I step out.
There is much I want to accomplish and the words on this page are the beginning. These words are my chance at atonement: a new beginning in what was nearly the end. I can’t think of one time in my life before prison that I was proud of myself, but that has changed now.
I am approaching the future with openness and a vision for possibility. I’ll never be able to change the past or correct the wrongs that I’ve committed, but the future is a beautiful thing because it’s in my control.
The things I wish to change, the differences I want to make I cannot make alone. It’s going to take a collective effort, dedication, discipline, and time. I may be living in a painful paradox but it will not last forever.
This is my call to action. Some may see my goals as lofty, but what the hell is the point of goals and aiming to achieve anything if it doesn’t leave a dent in the Universe?
Coming from a man sitting in prison, this may seem like a quixotic idea, but the absolute truth is that anything can be done. Anything.
While the paradox I’m living is painful, it is also positive. From this place of hopelessness, I found opportunity — for myself and for all of us. Flesh and blood human beings like us can make a difference. I believe in us because history has shown me the power of people unified with a purpose.
“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.” ~ Mother Teresa