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Prison Reform Rally 1/20/18: Statement by Cody Nelson on Drug Rehabilitation & Incarceration

My name is Cody Nelson and I am 27 years old. I am currently incarcerated for Malicious Wounding and 4 Counts of Felony Shoplifting to which I was sentenced 6 years to serve with 94 years suspended. These are my first and only felonies on my record and the only time I have had any criminal charges period. Let me tell you my story. In 2008 at the tender age of 17, I was newly graduated from high school and had no real purpose or direction for my life and at the encouragement of others I went to an army recruitment office on nothing more than a whim. Needless to say I was sold on the glamour and glory of the lifestyle and decided to enlist. Me being the adrenaline junky I am, decided the job for me was none other than the elite, airborne infantry division. 8 months later after pushing my body and mind to its outer limits I finished my training and received my first duty station, the famous 101st. Not long after that we received orders for deployment to Afghanistan and I spent the next 11 months kicking ass, taking names, and most importantly jumping out of planes. I loved my job but as fate would have it, it was not to be. A month before the end of my second 6 month rotation, we received orders to go on a nighttime reconnaissance mission and to do a LALO (low altitude low opening) jump. Due to equipment failure my primary parachute failed to open and my secondary (due to the low altitude of the jump) opened way too close to the ground. I hit the ground and shattered my pelvis in 3 places and that was the end of my illustrious military career. 4 months later after surgery and extensive rehab I was released from the hospital and received a medical discharge with 80% disability pay for the rest of my life. Unfortunately due to the nature of my injury, disability was not my only parting gift from the military, I realized, too late, that I had grown physically dependent on the pain pills and narcotics that were so freely given to me upon my return. This was the beginning of my descent into hell. I needed more and more and I didn't care how or where I got it from. It took me getting locked up to break free of that physical dependency and when I was greeted at Court it wasn't rehabilitation that was offered, but rather a cold, indifferent prison term of human storage. Our prison system needs to change, not for those like me who have already gotten the raw end of the deal, but rather for future generations. Department of Corrections should be a place where you can actually rethink and replan your life so that you might actually have a chance to do better once you reenter society, instead it is currently being used as a stagnant human storage facility that only benefits corrupt companies looking to turn a quick profit off of human misery. The first step to change in a democracy begins with awareness of the problem and so in knowing this, we as a people might make the necessary steps to do better. So spread this story and all the others you might hear today so that we might begin that truly remarkable path towards betterment as a society, progress as a people, and unity towards this movement.

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