Follow-up to “Memoirs and Musings”

November 2005
Greetings and salutations to all uncensored readers. Many of you might remember my preceding article, "The Memoirs and Musings of Robert Pruett", but if you don't I think you can read it in the uncensored archives. Over the past couple of months I've thought a lot about what I wrote and I think I should write a follow-up to it. There are a couple of points that I think require elucidation, so please allow me to do that now.
To begin, what I wrote was exactly how I recall things unfolding. I've replayed the events of that fateful night over and over in my head and I believe that what I wrote is exactly what transpired. That being said, my father and brother have different recollections.
Before I get into that I want to mention a phenomenon that many investigators to highly violent crimes can attest to. When I used to study the law pertaining to my case, I read innumerable cases where witnesses to a crime would recount different details and sometimes completely different versions of what happened. In one robbery case, one of the eye-witnesses distinctly remembers a masked man with a gun demand money from the store clerk, while another eye-witness to the same crime claims the man wore a ball cap (no mask) and had a paper bag over his hand as if to conceal the gun. You might wonder how these people could remember totally different things? I'm not an expert, but I think that in emotionally volatile situations, when the threat of danger is imminent, people begin to panic, fear and other emotions get stirred up, adrenaline begins to flow, preconceived notions as to what is happening or what might happen come into play and it all works to cloud perceptions and distort reality. Well, that's the only plausible explanation I can think of.
In my case, my brother's recollection is fundamentally similar to mine, with a few minor discrepancies. My father, on the other hand, maintains that he stabbed Ray because he thought Ray was going for a gun or another weapon. He also says he stabbed Ray in the front of Ray's trailer, by his truck, where I was. I don't remember it happening like that, but in light of what I know about the psychology of a highly emotional situation, it could be possible. I do not remember seeing my father stab Ray, yet it is possible that I did see it and somehow managed to erase it from my mind.
Another thing I want to elaborate on is my father's aggressive disposition. When I was a kid I often wondered why my dad was so quick to resort to violence. Every time he felt threatened or disrespected he'd become aggressive and confrontational. A lot of times he'd be drunk, but there were instances when he was sober and his reaction to what he construed to be a threat or disrespect would be violence. So it wasn't entirely the alcohol.
Having spent the last decade in the TDCJ, I now have a better understanding of his behavior. He went to reform school as a preteen and according to him, he "graduated" to the penitentiary at the age of 17 in 1963. I forget the exact number, but since then he's spent over 30 calendar years in prison.
In my experiences, this place conditions a man to be aggressive and violent. From day one I learned that, in order to preserve your manhood and keep your dignity, violence is necessary. This place is filled with predators and they are constantly scrutinizing your every move, searching for any sign of weakness in hopes of exploiting it. Everyone is tested, including the biggest, baddest and meanest of them all. In situations when someone disrespects you, you'd better take care of your business and that often means fighting, but sometimes you have to take it to another level. This is an extremely violent environment and in order to survive, physically and mentally, violence is necessary. (BTW - I am referring to the general prison population, not death row or Ad. Seg. where we are isolated.)
Of course there are those who choose the passive route and refuse to stand up for themselves. These are the guys that are often treated like dirt, having to pay someone for protection with commissary or their ass. Personally, I didn't have any financial support whatsoever when I was in population and as bad as it hurts me to take a shit, there's no way I'm gonna let a motherfucker stick his penis back there! :-)
Seriously, my point is that if you live like that for any number of years, aggressive responses become reflexive. One of the problems a lot of guys have when they are released is that they forget to leave the penitentiary mentality in the penitentiary. You take a guy like my father, someone who has spent most of his 58 years in prison, and it's almost impossible to change.
I will say this about my dad: He tried his best to do the right thing and stay out of prison and be there for his family when he was released in 1986. Form 1986-1995 he worked at backbreaking jobs for close to minimum wage, trying to support his family. He didn't go out stealing and robbing like he once did, he tried to make a honest living. Furthermore, he tried to teach me right. Yeah, he made the mistake of allowing me to smoke pot and he'll be the first one to say he made many more mistakes in raising me, but he tried to steer me in the right direction. He constantly told me to take care of business at school and try to make something of myself.. He warned me about prisons and he told me there was a better way, but I was hard-headed. I was out of control.
I just want everyone to know that my father, Howard Pruett Sr., isn't the maniac I might've previously portrayed him to be. We all have flaws and short-comings and I'm sure most of us have done things we wish we wouldn't have. I think what's important is that we learn from our past mistakes and try to mature and grow as humans.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this.
Robert Pruettt 999411