In Memory of Daniel McCauley
We have learned that 26-year-old Ohio State Penitentiary prisoner, Daniel McCauley, committed suicide in May 2007. Daniel was a contributing author to Prisonersolidarity. Fellow inmates described him as a decent and generous person who cared about others. Daniel's crime was committed at the age of 16. Deeply and sincerely regretful, this young man dreamt of a society that would give youth offenders a second chance, rather than allowing them to "rot" behind bars, at a supermaximum security facility.
We are re-posting Daniel McCauley's Prisonersolidarity essay, in honor of his memory and his dream. Please circulate widely.
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Saving Our Youth
By Daniel McCauley, Prisonersolidarity.org
Aug. 10, 2006
My name is Daniel McCauley and I'm a lifer at Ohio's only "super-max prison," the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. I started my sentence at the young age of 16 after the youthful mistake of drinking beer, doing drugs, and running with the wrong crowd. One fateful night I was with a couple of childhood friends when someone came up with the idea of breaking into an unoccupied house. "Just some troubled youths being troubled youths." Someone ended up being in that supposedly unoccupied house, and the intended "breaking in and entering" became much more. It led to the aggravated crimes of burglary, robbery and murder.
To make matters worse, while my co-defendant and I awaited our hearing (to be bound over and tried as adults), we escaped from the Juvenile Justice Center. We were so out of control and homesick that we ran. We were captured and re-arrested three hours later.
During my short and troubled lifespan I've made mistakes that I've come to regret deeply. But the greatest mistake, which I'm forced to live with day after day, is the knowledge that I was involved in the taking of another human being's life. This is something I will not be able to compensate for as long as I live. I mourn daily the death of that innocent victim and can only imagine the loss and pain that the victim's family has had to endure. No matter what side you view it from it is and always will be an incredibly tragic event for all who were involved.
But the youth that I was yesterday is not the man that I have become. Today I find myself in control of my thoughts and actions. Still, I am not perfect and have gotten into minor trouble while serving my time. But when you throw a kid into a rainstorm, he is bound to get wet.
As I sit here today, at the age of 25, and take the time to repent and think about the senseless pain I've caused others (my family included), I find myself wanting to make things right. Now that I've grown up and become wise enough to think for myself, I want to give something back to humanity. In fact, I feel it is my obligation. I've lost a lot through thoughtless action, so hopefully I can somehow use my voice/pen to stop someone else from making the same mistakes - mistakes that would cost him and others a great deal of unwarranted grief.
I see kids every day, coming to prison at age 16 and younger, making their own costly mistakes, and then doing 15, 20 even 30 years to life. Speaking from experience, I can understand how some of our youth can get out of control and have no sense of positive direction. And that's only the surface of the problem. What I can't understand, however, is how society can so easily give up on its youth. Why do we pin such outrageous sentences on them, with the intention of supposedly teaching them a lesson? It's plain to see that this vindictive method is not solving youth crime. Prison should be about reform, and not mere punishment, at least for its youth. Our youth need to be given the proper tools, to think rationally for themselves, so they can become productive members of this same society that has allowed them to be thrown away. In my opinion the best tool you can give a prisoner is a good education. Unfortunately, instead of adopting education as a rehabilitative approach for our youth, our leaders spend hundreds of thousands of dollars locking up juvenile offenders for almost an eternity. If the courts and politicians would spend that money on our troubled youths' educations, they could change the lives of many lost souls.
Aren't we still human, after all? To err is human. No human is infallible. It's essential that people begin to see us as humans and not animals or unsympathetic monsters. Why are we so focused on severely punishing our youth? Life goes on, people learn and change. They don't stay in one moment of time. I myself have changed. Many youth grow up and no longer have the passion for crime and all the troubles that come with it. Yes, we have committed a crime and are in prison. But if we could live a productive life in society, why not give us another chance at life? Following a personal transformation and decision to help others, I think the system should evaluate a prisoner's change seriously consider granting freedom.
The individual is able to change when given the tools to do so. Allow us the opportunity to help others, rather than mercilessly housing us in prisons, to rot. It may take different amounts of time for people to change for the better. But the one thing that does not change is our outrageous prison sentences. Beyond our youthful mistakes, it is the system itself that holds us back. Let us save our youth by extending to them the tools they need to prevent them from drowning in self-destruction.
Daniel McCauley #355-364
OSP - 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd
Youngstown, Ohio 44505
I appreciate your taking the time to read my testimony and hope that I may help at least one person to learn from the mistakes that I've made, and not end up where I am. If you would like to correspond with me or if there is anything else I can tell you that may help, please feel free to write to me. If you'd like to receive a response, just include a pre-stamped envelope with your return address on it. Again thank you for listening to what I have to say, and don't ever give up.
----- Original Message -----
From: Angela Jancius
To: [email protected]
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 11:22 AM
Subject: [prisonersolidarity] Daniel McCauley, the Lynds and Prisonersolidarity air on WBAI's nationally syndicated "WakeUp Call" program
Radio journalist Mimi Rosenberg read Daniel McCauley's Prisonersolidarity essay in a show that was dedicated to his memory, which focused on youth incarceration, rehabilitation, prison reform, and the inhumane conditions at supermax prisons (a comparison is made between Youngstown's Ohio State Penitentiary and Guantanamo). The interviewed guests were Staughton and Alice Lynd. Rosenberg's report aired on WBAI New York, on the nationally syndicated morning show, "Wakeup Call." You may listen to and download the interview at WBAI's program archive: It is the June 6, 7 a.m. "Wakeup Call."
Mimi Rosenberg ([email protected]) is planning to do further radio shows on prison-related topics, and may be featuring more Prisonersolidarity writers. We'll keep you updated.
*** Want to respond to issues raised on Rosenberg's program? Make your
voice heard. Contact:
* Governor Ted Strickland -- 614-466-3555 (phone); 614-466-9354 (fax)
* First Lady Frances Strickland -- 614-995-2000 (phone)
* Marc Dann, Ohio Attorney General -- 614-466-4320 (phone)
* Terry Collins, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction -- 614-752-1164
* Andrea Dean, Public Information Officer of the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction -- 614-752-1150
* Keith Fletcher, Public Information Officer, Ohio Supermax Prison ("Ohio
State Penitentiary") -- 330-743-0700 -ext. 2003
* Marc Houk, Warden, Ohio State Penitentiary; 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road;
Youngstown, OH 44505-4635 -- 330-743-0700
About WBAI's "WakeUp Call":
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Hosted by Deepa Fernandes (Mon-Thurs) and Mario Murillo (Fri).
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