Updated: Apr 7
My name is Cornell Boyd, I am 54 years old. I fell 16 days after my 18th birthday in 1985. I was sentenced to 99 years for a triple homicide with my co-defendant. My experience of incarceration goes back to the age 14 in McLaughlin Youth Center.
What was incarceration like for me the moment I entered into an adult system. Being that young I already was preconditioned to experienced 23-hour lockdowns. Every day seeing your name plastered on the front page of the newspaper for 2 1/2 months has a way to wreak havoc on your physic. It caused me to want to kill myself. Of course, I was raised to believe that committing suicide was wrong. So, I tried to share what I was feeling with the guy next to my cell, but he turned out to be a psychopath. He wanted me to drink a concoction he made out of chemicals that bubbled in a cup he gave me. The reason I didn’t drink it was that I did not want it to be painful. It wasn’t the end of my quest of distinguishing my own life. By the grace of God while in the shower an officer yells to me as I was attempting to hang myself. “Cornell you have a visit.!” And I knew it was my mother as she was the only one visiting me. During that visitation I told her I was bored sitting in my cell 23 hours a day with no one to talk to, she said read the bible “it will talk to you, read Psalms 51”.
What were the seeds that led me to change my life around, it was a moment not to long after my mother’s last visitation. I was laying on my bunk on my stomach with cell lights blazing and a feeling of heaviness, and an unknown energy, seemed to paralyze my body. I was wide awake and could not move. Out of nowhere I heard a voice say, “Cornell turn around cause I’m facing you.” This spiritual moment led me to make a decision to read the word of God.
Once I was freed from being locked down for over a year with my court case still pending, pleading no contest to spare the victims’ family from any more grief, I began to educate myself. Reading books, taking classes, reading the word of God. These things worked for me to keep my mind busy to stay out of jailhouse politics and drama. I was blessed to have a few mentors black and white to help me keep my focus being the youngest in the institution. I was forced to take my GED even though I was a credit in half shy of obtaining my high school diploma, to have my television because the No Frills Bill required every prisoner to have a high school diploma or a GED, and a job; it nullified me from continuing my correspondence to retain my high school diploma.
After extensive study I choose to be baptized. I choose to renew my mind and dedicate, denying myself to follow the way the truth the life. Over a period of time I was blessed with a dear friend name not included that has vouched for me when it came to the victims’ daughter and my wife. Through her extensive wisdom she continues to encourage me to stay strong, to keep hope, to persevere my current situation. I’ve learned that family’s love will grow cold when there is a lack of communication. It is still fresh in my memory, it still hurts, when it started to happen to me. A friend said to me don’t think this is a strange thing happening to you. it’s happening to all of us. I remember as if it was yesterday when my parents left the state of Alaska before I was sentenced. There was a hole left in my heart that was never been repaired.
I was seen by the Parole Board April of 2018 and they commenced to tear me down painting a picture using colors of my character of thirty-five years ago. I rather they would have spoke to my character of today, and the mediation I had with the family instead of reiterating and sacrificing me on the altar of social media. Jesus would say I would rather mercy than sacrifice. I hoped they would of spoke to me directly as a human being and told me virtually what they had told me recognizing the changes I have made in my life instead of overlooking them to set me off ten years as if I have done nothing to change my life. The parole board should be a safety net to protect the public from those who have not changed their core values. Instead of focusing on how much time you have done. Mr. Meyers a parole board member told me that the world had changed over the last thirty-five years, yet they were willing to set me off for another ten years. What makes them think that my life, my health, my wife, my interstate compact will be in place in another ten years at the age of 62. He smashed all hope trying to discourage my wife and myself.
What is my vision for the future? I hope to stand before today’s youth offenders to share with them that all things are possible because greater is he that is in you, than he is in the world.
Written by Cornell Boyd