I was down, but I’m not out

My name is Christopher Randle Jr. I am a 30-year-old student at Pierce College. I was named after my father, but it seems to me that I inherited more than just his name. He’s currently in federal prison for assaulting his girlfriend on our Coeur D’Alene reservation in northern Idaho.

Christopher Randle

Contributing writer

My name is Christopher Randle Jr. I am a 30-year-old student at Pierce College. I was named after my father, but it seems to me that I inherited more than just his name. He’s currently in federal prison for assaulting his girlfriend on our Coeur D’Alene reservation in northern Idaho.

I don’t believe in blaming others for the mistakes one makes. I do believe the people who raise you, where you grow up and what happens around you determines a lot about who you will eventually be or who you will eventually be trying to overcome. I guess my philosophy is this: Everyone is responsible for his or her own destiny.

My parents were nowhere near typical. “Dysfunctional family” rings about right in that regard. My mom constantly had to defend herself from my father’s drunken abusiveness. It’s amazing she wasn’t killed in the process. It seems like my entire childhood was filled with fear and a dreadful anticipation of negative situations that might occur.

It’s strange how those same memories are part of my life today.

In elementary school, I did fairly well with my schoolwork. My mom would reward me and my sister with cold hard cash for good marks on our report cards. I think we only got the money once or twice, but it still was nice to think we were going to be rich one day, if we got good enough grades. Every day I came home expecting some horror to be unfolding in our two-bedroom apartment. Usually it wasn’t too bad, but I just really never knew.

One day when I was about 10 years old, I took my sister’s red BMX bike to the Safeway. I got caught stealing some baseball cards. I don’t remember if I did it because I like baseball cards or I just wanted some attention from my parents. Well, I got the attention I was looking for when a police officer dropped me off at home with my sister’s bike in the trunk. I think this was the beginning of the crime-oriented life that would control me for the next 15 years. When I look back, I sure wish I would have stayed home that night.

I have spent many, many nights at Remann Hall, the juvenile center in Tacoma. The first time some serious trouble hit my door step was in 1993. I was with some neighborhood children about my age except for one older guy from California. He was 18.

To make a long story short, this guy robbed a girl of $1 using his .38-caliber pistol. We all went to Shari’s and about two hours later, the police came in while we were drinking coffee. They put guns on us and said, “Don’t move. Put your hands on the table. All of you. Right now.”

The 18-year-old was familiar with the legal system so he wrote a statement saying I was the culprit and he would swear to it. I went down and didn’t have a good lawyer. I got sent to Maple Lane, a juvenile prison in Centralia. I did one year in there when I was only 13 years old. It was scary and enlightening. I got out and was institutionalized all the way, but I didn’t know it yet.

From 1994 to 1998, I was in and out of trouble for various misdemeanor charges ranging from car prowling for stereos to joyriding in stolen cars. Being poor led to stealing things to sell for cash. Honestly, I had no idea the way I was living was not how I should be living. Somewhere along the path I got a lot of bad information and never thought twice about the crimes I was committing and if they were wrong. I don’t believe I learned all my bad habits from my parents only, but I do credit them with the affinity for the wrong side of the law.

In the late ‘90s, I lost two relatives to drug overdose and bad health. I took it real hard. It gave me an outlet for the pent-up emotions I had inside of me. I broke down and cried. We buried my relatives in Idaho on the reservation. We have cemetery plots for our family members there when the time comes a calling for us. The burials sort of led to my getting away from Tacoma and starting a new journey in Spokane. I went to prison shortly after I got there. I was homeless and running the streets trying to survive without any real life skills, so the outcome was inevitable.

Spokane brought new things to my life. Gambling was probably the worst activity it brought, but you can’t go to prison for gambling, so it wasn’t the worst. If you gamble, you just lose all your money, sanity and zeal for life. Spokane gave me the desire to try to live a different way. I don’t know if it’s the people, the architecture, the weather or what, but I started to see things differently in that place.

Maybe it just took me 20-something years to mature a little. Before I went away to prison, this time for drug delivery, I got married to the girl I have been with for five years. We hitched at a hitching post in Idaho.

The marriage couldn’t work since I was not physically there to be with her. We fell apart quickly from not having enough communication. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to get a separation. She lives in Idaho now. She was honestly a blessing and kept me alive for longer than I should have been.

Now is the time for change for me. My life has been a whole bunch of the wrong things and I don’t want that stuff anymore. All of my crazy criminal choices have made it difficult for my present situation. I do have hope for the future though. Sometimes it seems as if all the bad in the world already has happened to me so there’s nothing else but good tidings ahead. I wish. The main lesson from all the days in jail, from all the wrong decisions, all the pain and suffering is everyone is responsible for his or her own destiny. I only can blame myself if success is not my future. As long as my actions match up with successful planning, then I can guarantee a successful future. I make no excuse for the mistakes I have made and I take full responsibility for my life.

I was down, but I’m not out.

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I was down, but I’m not out

by Contributing Writer time to read: 4 min