IF ONLY TO LIVE AGAIN
IF ONLY TO LIVE AGAIN
Hello, my name is Robert Titmus. As I write this, I am currently on my 17th year of a 38 year sentence. 38 years, that's a lot of time, you must be wondering how many people I killed. That would be none. Well, surely he must have raped some women, hurt some kids. Once again, that would be none.
No, I am serving this time because I couldn't get a grip on my opiate addiction. I was convicted of 1 count of robbery (no weapon), 3 counts of statutory burglary, 4 counts of breaking and entering (all business, not that it makes it any better), and 3 counts of grand larceny associated with the breaking and entering's, and violation of probation. I own what I did, I even pled guilty.
Not a day goes by since I fell, that I have not regretted the decisions that I made that led me here. I have struggled with my addiction since my early teens which landed me in trouble time and time again. There are many factors that led me to start using drugs but ultimately it was my decision to start using, so I'm not going to use those as a crutch as I write this. As with most stories, I started popping pills which eventually led to me shooting heroin. I tried to maintain but I would commit a crime to support my habit and get locked up. Each time I would do a little time, get clean, and do well for a while. Eventually the opiate demon would claw itself back in and I would start using again.
During my first few years of incarceration I battled with myself trying to figure it all out. I was angry with the world because I thought I was dealt a bad hand in life. I would lay awake at night replaying scenario after scenario looking for ways to change the situation I was in. I've since come to the realization that I can't blame the world for what happens to me, but I can make sure I react to it in a positive manner and choose the attitude I'll have towards it. One of the biggest things that resonated with me is what a judge told me at a bond hearing as to why he was denying me bail. He said, "Mr. Titmus, you are a menace to society and a menace to yourself. If I were to let you out right now, you would be back on heroin before the sun went down." Thinking about what he said made me realize that in order to change the situation I found myself in, I would first have to change the situation in myself. The biggest catalyst was when I spoke to my grandmother on the phone, she asked me when I was coming home and I had to explain to her that I was never going to be able to see her again. That still pains me to this day. I knew then I had to make a change. The first step was to examine what the root cause was that kept fueling my addiction. It took a long time and a lot of introspection before I came to that conclusion. Once I figured that out, I had to make a promise to myself that I wouldn't use again. It's never quite that easy so I had to formulate a plan on how I would deal with issues that would eventually come up that would pull those strings of my addiction, calling me back into that world. It has been a struggle but I have managed to stay clean for over 15 years, and it hasn't been because I was locked up, it's a well known fact that drugs do find their way into prison.
The next step was to come up with a way to be a productive citizen whenever I was to be let back into society. I signed up for a residential electrical class, and it seemed like I found my calling. Once I finished the class, I was hired on as a teacher's aide in 2008. I help students learn to be electrician's helpers. I also show them that there was a different way of life other than one of crime. To some thats all they've ever known, I help them acquire the tools they need to live away from crime. Over the last 11 years as a teacher's aide I studied, did my apprenticeship, and passed my journeyman's exam to become a licensed electrician. Next April, when the time eligibility has passed, I'll be testing for my master's license. I did all that without any treatment programs. Treatment was never given to me as an option, it was always just lock him up. The understanding of opiate addiction wasn't at the level it is now. As more people fall victim to the opiate epidemic we start understanding exactly what is happening with people and their addictions. The answer isn't lock them up and throw away the key. There has to be a better way. Not everyone has the support network I have to give them something to fight for. I am truly and utterly sorry for what I have done to myself and all the ones I hurt. I have been living this death now for over 16 years. How many years does it take to redeem a man's soul?
I have a great support network of friends and family that have been doing this time with me, that just want to see me come home. When a person is in prison, it isn't always just that person doing the time, the friends and family are doing it as well. I just want a chance to prove to them and myself that I can do it. I would live to be able to give back, to pay it forward if you will, to help people overcome their addictions. I also have dreams of using my electrical skills with habitat for humanity or something along those lines.
So what I'm asking is if you agree that I be given another chance to live again, please sign this petition and pass along the link. If I get enough signatures, I plan to include it in a clemency package to present to the Governor of Virginia.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.