Fernando Diaz was just 20-years-old when he was convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and incarcerated for capital murder. Now, 13 years, later he's able to reflect back on some of the decisions he made in his life and he wants everyone to know none of them were worth spending life behind bars. Fernando says, "I have a 14-year-old daughter. She just turned 14 and when I got locked up she was a year and a half old, so to see her grow and me not being there, it hurts."
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Fernando found himself torn away from his family and locked behind bars back in 1991, after he enlisted another man's help to committ burglary. Fernando says, that man killed the owner of the house. Several court appearances later, the verdict was in. Although Fernando says he did not committ murder, he was convicted of capital murder for his role as an accomplis to the crime. He says, "It was my idea to do the burglary, so basically they've given me a life sentence for a burglary."
Soon after going to prison, Fernando got caught up in what many prisoners do, the prison gang scene. That landed him in maximum security where he remains today. Delbert Rodriguez is a security Threat Group Officer at the Preston Smith Unit. He says, "It's not a good thing because it causes problems down the road for them. Their paroles. They're not going to get paroled. They're going to have this on their record for the rest of their incarceration at TDCJ."
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Fernando is now aware of that fact and is trying to recover from the decision he made years ago. He says, "I'm trying to get that off my back. That's the only chance I have of getting a time cut is not having that one me."
Because Fernando is in maximum security, he has little access to the jail's educational programs. He tries to pass the countless hours in his cell by educating himself with courses he completes by mail. He says, "It's made me mature in this place and being here has made me open my eyes and realize the path I was on was not the right path."
If he had it all to do again, Fernando says he never would have gone through with the robbery that landed him behind miles of barbed wire and cement, but the hours of solitude and lonliness have given him time to perfect his message to those contemplating a life of crime. "If they're having problems, seek help. Try to get on the right path it's important for them to make a family. Unfortunately, I had to come here and get a life sentence to realize there's not a future, there's not a future back here."
Fernando's goal now, is to get his life sentence reduced and go back to minimum security where he can train for a career. He says he's sure he could stay on a positive, crime-free track if released.