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Vietnam Vet Finds Faith at Folsom

Vietnam veteran Billy Hall entered a life of crime after returning from the war. Once caught, he was sentenced to life in prison, which became the best thing that ever happened to him. Read Transcript


I WAS DEAD. I WAS DEAD. I

WAS FINISHED. MY LIFE WAS AT

AN

END, AND THERE WAS NO HOPE FOR

ME.

BILLY HALL SURVIVED THREE

TOURS OF DUTY IN VIETNAM BUT

HIS

DARKEST MOMENTS WERE TO COME

BEHIND BARS IN PRISON.

I WAS A DEAD MAN WALKING.

HIS TROUBLES STARTED AFTER

LEAVING THE MARINES. HE

COULDN'T FIND WORK TO SUPPORT

HIS FAMILY.

HI TO THE THE PERFECT DAD

BECAUSE I WAS A MARINE. I WAS

SO DESPERATE. WE WOULD RUN OUT

OF MONEY. WE DIDN'T HAVE THE

MONEY ANYMORE, NO CAR, AND IT

WAS JUST A REAL DIFFICULT TIME

FOR OUR FAMILY.

IN DESPERATION HE STARTED

PLANNING AND COMMITTING ARMED

ROBBERYS.

I JUSTIFIED AS A MISSION.

THIS WAS MY INTEL. THIS IS HOW

WE'RE GOING TO DO T TYING

PEOPLE

UP AND GOING INTO THE BACK ROOM

AND GETTING THE MONEY OUT OF

THE

SAFE F IF OTHER PEOPLE HAD TO

BE

DEPRIVED OF WHAT THEY HAD THAT

WAS JUST THE END THAT JUSTIFIED

THE MEANS.

BILLY GOT AWAY WITH SEVERAL

ARMED ROBBERIES

AND HOPED TO GET CAUGHT.

I AM PLANNING OTHERS AND I

CAN'T STOP THIS AND MY MIND IS

CONSTANTLY GOING.

EVENTUALLY BILLY WAS CAUGHT

AND ARRESTED. DUE TO THE

NUMBER

OF ROBBERIES AND THE VIOLENT

NATURE WAS SENTENCED TO

CONSECUTIVE LIFE TERMS AND THE

REALITY SUNK IN AS HE ENTERED

PRISON.

THAT SENSE OF DEPRESSION,

LACK OF CONTROL, LACK OF

IDENTITY. YOU DON'T HAVE A

NAME

ANYMORE. YOU'RE A NUMBER.

THAT

WAS MY NAME, AND YOU'RE A

PROPERTY OF THE STATE, AND I AM

THINKING ONE DAY I'M GOING TO

DIE IN THIS CELL. IF I DIE AN

OLD MAN I DIE ALONE, ALONE.

NOBODY'S THERE. THAT WAS THE

EMPTIEST TIME OF MY LIFE.

HIS FRIENDS AND FAMILY

ABANDONED HIM. ALONE WITH HIS

THOUGHTS BILLY COULD ONLY THINK

OF ONE WAY OUT.

WHY DON'T YOU JUST KILL

YOURSELF? YOU'RE GOING TO DIE

ANYWAY WHY WAIT? WHY DON'T DO

IT RIGHT NOW? AND TO KILL

OURSELVES THERE WE GRAB THE

BARS

AND BEAT OUR HEADS INTO THE BAR

UNTIL BLOOD JUST HEMAGED AND WE

WOULD DIE. WELL, I WAS GETTING

READY TO DO THAT NIGHT AND

THERE

WAS ANOTHER VOICE THAT CAME AND

THAT VOICE WAS "I LOVE YOU

BILLY". I REMEMBER THOSE WORDS

SO CLEARLY. "I

LOVE YOU BILLY. I DIDN'T LOVE

MYSELF. PEOPLE DIDN'T LOVE ME.

MY LETTERS WERE SENT "RETURN TO

SENDER" . THEY WEREN'T OPENED.

NOBODY LOVED ME. GOD, IF

YOU'RE

FOR REALS DO SOMETHING IN MY

LIFE BECAUSE I AM AFRAID TO

DIE.

I WANT PEACE IN MY HEART. JUST

GIVE ME PEACE IN MY HEART. I

WENT TO SLEEP THAT NIGHT AND

WHEN I WOKE UP IN THE MORNING,

MAN, I STILL HAD NINE LIFE

SENTENCES. I WAS STILL IN

FOLSOM PRISON. I WAS STILL

WALKING FIVE STEPS ONE WAY AND

SEVEN THE OTHER WAY YET THERE

ARE WAS BRAND-NEW INSIDE OF ME

AND I DISCOVER

ME AND NOTHING I HAD

EXPERIENCE

AND YOU'RE IN ME AND I AM FREE.

HE CHANGED ME FROM THE INSIDE,

NOT THE OUTSIDE.

TWO YEARS INTO HIS SENTENCE

HE WAS CALLED TO THE WARDEN'S

OFFICE.

I WENT TO THE OFFICE AND SAT

DOWN, AND HE SAYS WE'RE SENDING

YOU HOME IN SIX MONTHS, AND I

COULDN'T EVEN TALK. MY MOUTH

WAS JUST MOVING BUT TEARS ARE

COMING DOWN MY EYES. I WAS

STUNNED. I HADN'T REACHED THE

FIRST MINIMUM, FIVE YEARS.

WHAT

THE WARDEN DID AND TOOK THE

PAROLE DATE AND SENT IT TO THE

GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA AND

ASKED

HIM TO APPROVE IT BECAUSE THE

PAROLE BOARD WOULDN'T APPROVE T

THE GATE OPENED AND I FELT

MYSELF STEPPING OUT FROM A

GRAVE

AND INTO LIFE AND IT REALLY

DOES

SMELL DIFFERENT, THE AIR,

OUTSIDE THOSE PRISON WALLS.

TO THIS DAY HE DOESN'T KNOW

WHY THE WARDEN SECURED HIS

RELEASE BUT HE DOES BELIEVE

IT'S

A MIRACLE.

ALL OF THE THINGS THE DIFI WILL

USED AGAINST ME AND GOD BRINGS

A

MINISTRY OUT OF IT.

BILLY SPENT MUCH OF HIS LIFE

AS A MISSIONARY IN ETHIOPIA.

AND IT'S BEEN ONE MIRACLE

INTO ANOTHER MIRACLE AND

FOLLOWING HIM INTO THE UNKNOWN

AND WALKING WITH THE GOD OF

MIRACLES EVERYDAY WALKING UNDER

HIS SMILE. IT DOESN'T GET ANY

BETTER.

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