From the beginning of the seventh to the end of the eighth grade Matt went
from being an A student to flunking out. While repeating the eighth grade, he
was the MVP in three sports and was stealing cars on weekends. One night in
April, 1988, he and two friends went out to steal a car. One of the friends shot
and killed the driver. Trying to avoid a mandatory 25 years in prison, Matt
accepted a plea of 60 years because he hoped he could reduce time served
from 30 to 12.
Most young males are victimized by the dominant inmates in prison. At DeSoto
Correctional Institute Matt was the youngest male among 1,100 men.
Unbeknownst to his parents, Matt thrived in prison. He made and sold wine
and loansharked, among other things. With his profits he bank-rolled a
gambling operation. At one point he was sending money home to his brother.
He paid one inmate to iron his clothes and another one to make his bed.
But in his 6th year of incarceration he hit a man with a pipe in the middle of
the night. Matt was sent to Close Management or “Solitary” for 13 months.
For the first time he had experienced guilt for something he had done.
It was the beginning of a spiritual awakening.
The details of the crime and of his life leading up to it, the details of Matt’s
“business interests” while in prison, a love affair with an attractive female
guard, the details of the fight mentioned above and the providential way in
which Matt got clemency from Governor Chiles four months before he died
of a heart attack, is all part of this riveting story.
Matt was released from prison in August 2000, with 15 credits towards
a college degree. He has since begun a very successful construction and home remodeling business. He was married to a charming Ft. Lauderdale woman with two sons in May of 2002.
Now Matt and his wife have added another girl and boy to their family.