My husband, Tony Dameron, deserves parole after almost 25 years of being incarcerated. He is not the same person he once was. Family and friends tell me and police reports document the man he was 25 years ago. They talk about someone that I’ve never met and do not know. Once full of anger, drugs and violence, he now has regret, is remorseful and accepts his culpability. He has nothing but love, compassion and generosity to give today. He has a wife and family, grown children and grand-babies who love and adore him. Our daughter recently told him that the DOC doesn’t need him, but we do. The man once feared and deemed by the judge on his trial as “having no rehabilitative value” is now industrious and trusted, which is apparent from the various jobs he’s held over the years. This includes his last one in maximum security as “critical” worker/welder in Pontiac’s maintenance department and his current position in MSU as Porter on his unit. Tony is considered an “exception to the criteria,” and he was leveled down from maximum to medium security. He was granted his spot at the MSU in Pontiac 2 years ago, which is quite an accomplishment for someone who once had a sentence to die.
Tony has a genuine desire to be a better man today than he was yesterday. He has worked tirelessly to correct behaviors of the past through rehabilitative programs offered through the Department of Corrections, programs he’s sought and paid for himself. He lives the life of an accountable, committed recovering addict whole-heartedly, taking full responsibility for his past actions. He leads Celebrate Recover Inside at Pontiac Correctional MSU and is one of the Peer Counselors for the institution. He’s served as a mentor with various programs designed for the inmates that will be released with the hope of helping others to be successful outside so they do not return. He’s also served as a teaching assistant for those that are working on their GED.
Tony is a talented artist — he shares with his family and friends many pieces of artwork. He has won various awards for art contests at the institution. In the summer and fall of 2018, he volunteered and was granted the opportunity to share his artistic talent with the prison to paint the visiting room, which made the visiting experience a brighter, more positive one for families visiting their loved ones. This included designing and painting murals on the walls so that there was a background for families to have their photo taken with their loved one when the DOC brought that back. Painted in bright, cheerful color are the words, “Live, Love, Laugh,” the new direction for his life. A cheerful scene of children reading under trees adorns yet another wall inviting families to the shelves of books to read, coloring books, puzzles and games — a stark contrast to the grey wall that used to be there. His plan upon release is to continue his ministry with Celebrate Recovery, to counsel those with addictions before it is too late, and to continue in his skilled trades from before and during incarceration. He wants to give back, to be a productive member of society, and to take care of his wife and family. His family and I want him home so that we can further build on the life that we’ve grown with him.