Vondell Green/Contributing Writer
Art Credit/Vondell Green
At the age of 16, as I sat in class going about my normal business of the day the county police entered the room, took me into custody and charged me with armed robbery. At this point, I thought that I was being held for a petty crime that I had done a while ago. Upon being interviewed by the detective, I came to the realization that I was detained for a crime that I did not commit. The authorities took a photograph that my foster parents had given the police when I became missing from the foster home and created a mug shot. This picture was then used in a line-up and I was identified as the assailant. At this time a major life lesson was learned if I had been where I was supposed to be which was under the care of my foster parents and at school, during the time the incident occurred I would have not found myself if this life-altering situation.
The next lesson learned after being wrongfully accused and locked-up is that nobody cares that you are innocent. It was a lesson that I needed to learn quickly. Thinking in my head, why am I here, this is not right, I did not rob a pizza guy with a double-barrel shotgun, I have never held a gun in my life, let alone robbed someone with a double-barrel. With this pattern of thinking, I was leaving myself very vulnerable to the situation that I found myself in. Charged with six counts for armed robbery and commission of a crime with a gun. I was handed six pieces of paper, each carrying a 20-year sentence. I was 16 years old and facing a 120-year sentence. As unbelievable as it was, I had to accept I was being charged and faced an insurmountable amount of time behind bars. At the time, I had no idea that God had a plan for me even in the midst of the storm I was facing.
The juvenile facility I was assigned until sentencing was overcrowded; therefore, I was sent to an adult facility until sentencing. Eight juveniles including myself were placed between two adult cells, were we restricted to lock down for 23 hours of the day. After a few months of being held in an adult facility, I went to court for sentencing. During sentencing, my case was waived down to juvenile court due to my good grades and school attendance; I was then assigned to Victor Cullen facility to complete their juvenile program. Being placed at Victor Cullen would soon set me on a path to higher education unbeknownst to me at the time. After sentencing I returned to the adult facility, I then was transferred to Boys Village for 10 months because Victor Cullen, the juvenile facility I was assigned to was at capacity. During my stay at Boys Village, I focused on my lyrical skills and drawing abilities. I relied heavily on my creative energy to help keep me focused and calm, which is a skill I carry with me to this day. I was not focused on making friends, however, I did eventually start to build relationships with the trustees (sentenced juveniles at a certain level serving as support and role models for other juveniles) and the trustees would provide me with drawing paper, this is when I started doing portraits of other juvenile inmates. Eventually, I was asked to teach the art club within the juvenile facility. During my stay at the facility, I was also afforded an opportunity to participate in an oratorical contest, submitted an original speech, and delivered it. To my surprise, I won the contest and was the recipient of a 4-year college scholarship. Upon my release from the facility, I spent a few weeks at home and then began my college career with a major in art education. Although I did not complete requirements to earn my degree in art education, I would go on to work in the field of printing and eventually earned a degree in Graphic Design. Through my adversity, through my pain, through being wrongfully convicted, art saved my sanity.
FB: Vondell Green